Award-Winning Surfer Dies From Staph Infection

The San Diego surfing community mourning the loss of an award-winning surfer.

Barry Ault, who won the U.S. Surfing Championship in the Master’s Category in 1970, died Christmas Day from a staph infection.

"Great guy in the water, had a great sense of humor," said Vince Iacono, who knew Ault for 30 years.

The weekend before Christmas, Barry had gone surfing at Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, just two days after a rainstorm. It's still not clear if that staph infection came from storm runoff into the water that day, as there are several storm drains around Sunset Cliffs that empty into the ocean.

"There is another gentleman that Barry was surfing with that day that got very ill as well, and a younger gentleman that also got sick," said Ault's surfing friend Donn Clark. "So, kinda too coincidental."

Lifeguards always caution people to wait at least 72 hours after a storm to go into the water. A city spokesman told NBC 7 the water from those storm drains is regularly tested by city microbiologists, but not specifically for staph. More thorough tests for the time when Ault was surfing are not yet available.

However, Ault had underlying health issues, which included heart surgery last year.

"I'm gonna be thinking about it, and I'm sure others will too, and it's just a tragic end to a wonderful man's life," said Clark.

Ault was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Los Angeles and Arcadia before moving to San Diego to attend San Diego State University. He was a veteran and served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He later worked as a computer scientist in Civil Service for the government and for FGM until retirement.

In addition to winning the U.S. Surfing Championship in 1970, he placed second in the U.S. Surfing Championship in 1971. He placed first in the senior category in Hawaii in 1980. Recently, he competed locally with the Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association. Five days before his death, he was surfing at Sunset Cliffs.

Ault is survived by his wife, Sally, his daughter, his son, two nephews and his cousins.

There will be a paddle out for Ault at Luscomb’s Point in Sunset Cliffs Saturday, January 17 at 2 p.m. A celebration of his life will be held at San Diego Yacht Club on Sunday the 18th.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Surfrider Foundation in his memory.

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