Local surfers will get “pitted, so pitted” this weekend along Santa Barbara’s legendary coastline during the 29th annual Rincon Classic surf contest.
The power-packed professionals’ heat will include world-class athletes Tom Curran, Dane Reynolds and UCSB surf team co-captain Theo Lewitt among other competitors battling on one of California’s best point breaks. The Rincon Classic, Santa Barbara’s oldest surfing competition, also offers divisions for surfers of all ages and board sizes.
Contest Director Chris Keet said the tournament highlights the area’s top-tier surf spot — a regional favorite off Highway 101’s exit 83 — and unites the sport’s enthusiasts in a battle on the breakers.
“Rincon is arguably the best wave in California, which produces some of the best surfers in California and in the world,” Keet said. “This is for locals only; it is the community vibe that makes it really special. This is a weekend when the locals get to have the waves to themselves without all the outsiders. Sometimes we have three generations from the area competing together.”
The boys’ quarter final heats will kick off the Classic at 7 a.m. and the professional heats will begin at 1:15 p.m. The Red Bull Air Show will also perform aerial stunts and displays throughout the weekend.
Lewitt, a second-year undeclared major, said attending UCSB allows him to qualify with the competition’s “residents only” policy.
“If you don’t have an address in the Santa Barbara area, you cannot sign up for the event,” Lewitt said in an email. “[It’s] pretty cool for a contest as prestigious as the Classic to keep everything really community based like that; it’s not something I am used to.”
According to former professional surfer and current TransWorld Surf Magazine Editor Chris Coté, non-residents will only be allowed to attend as spectators.
“The Rincon Classic is bittersweet,” Coté said. “Obviously it’s wonderful to watch some of the world’s most stylish surfers ride on the best waves in the world without a traffic jam of bobbing dorks in the way of their surfing, but then again, it is nice to be one of the bobbing dorks in the lineup begging for a wave; at least, that’s what I do when I’m out there.”
Coté said he predicts that one of the big names in rail-to-rail surfing will take home the title.
“Style. Speed. Carves. Not many airs,” Coté said. “I expect Conner Coffin and Tom Curran to battle it out in the most stylish final ever. This may be complete blasphemy … but Conner will win.”