The local Isla Vista Surfrider chapter held its first annual benefit surf competition on Saturday at the water below Dogshit Park.
The competition had been postponed for two weeks due to lack of swell, but this week’s dropping tide provided surfable waves.
The judges’ table and contest headquarters were located between the park and the backyard patio to 6876 Del Playa Drive. The bluff-side seats provided a panoramic view of the contestants in the water.
First place went to James Burns, fourth-year financial mathematics and statistics major, because he was able to “get his feet on the nose of his board in every heat,” according to Benny Drescher, head organizer of the competition.
“Like in any surf contest, James won because he picked the right board for the day – a longboard, that is – and caught the best waves in each heat,” Drescher said.
Four judges scored the performances of each surfer. With each new round, the judges would drop the lowest-scoring surfers from the competition.
“They judge you on style, like if you fall or do something really well,” said Axel Eaton, fourth-year environmental studies major and competition contestant. “It’s subjective, but it’s the nature of the sport.”
Teams representing Greek houses joined in the competition, and each house donated a sum of money as part of their philanthropy efforts. Organizers also accepted donations from non-surfers.
The competition raised $230 from contestant entry fees and general donations. Individual entries were $8 per person and $35 for teams of five.
Proceeds from the contest will go toward the I.V. Surfrider’s campaign to distribute reusable party cups made entirely of recycled plastic. Some of the donations will also be sent to the Rainforest Action Network to benefit their Climate Action Fund.
“What we want to do with our campaign is minimize the waste of red solo cups by replacing them with the reusable ones,” judge Marcus Vicari and current I.V. Surfrider president said.
Organizers hope to get a bulk order of the cups to distribute to the contestants who can then document how much they have used the cups, Vicari said.
The benefit competition is partly in response to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that contains millions of pieces of polluting plastic, he said. The initiative stems from their “Rise Above Plastics” campaign that strives to help bring an end to single-use plastics.
“Surfrider foundation was founded on the thought to keep oceans clean and open to the public,” judge Zach Georgii of the San Luis Obispo Surfriders chapter said. “No person should be able to own a part of the ocean, and nobody should be polluting our waters.”
Organizers are also trying to get local restaurants in I.V. and Goleta to stop using single-use plastics in their “ocean friendly restaurants campaign.”
The I.V. Surfrider chapter also hosts beach clean-up days throughout the year in its efforts to keep local waters clean.