Beach cleanups and bodysurfing enliven surfing contest’s off days
Saturday, Nov. 4 was a lay day for the surfing at the Rip Curl Pro Search, with surfers taking the day off. But that didn’t mean that all was quiet at Ocean Beach.
Starting at 9 a.m. at the contest site across the Great Highway from the Beach Chalet, Rip Curl hosted a beach cleanup in partnership with the Surfrider Foundation and Save The Waves. At the cleanup, Rip Curl presented a check for $5,000 to the Surfrider Foundation to aid the group in its efforts to protect local surf spots such as Ocean Beach. A few dozen attendees turned out for the cleanup.
Meanwhile, just down the beach at Lincoln Way, local surfboard maker Danny Hess hosted the Bodysurf Classic, a bodysurfing contest that was open to anyone who wanted to participate.
Seventy-eight bodysurfers competed in 13 heats of 30 minutes each on the cold and windy day at the beach. There are very few bodysurfing contests in the world, and the Bodysurf Classic had a decidedly non-competitive atmosphere. While the original structure featured three semi-final heats and a final, popular opinion opted instead for a free-for-all final, in which everyone could bodysurf and no one would judge. Which is exactly what happened, as 20 or so bodysurfers stormed the waves to ring in a memorable Ocean Beach event.
The contest attracted internationally acclaimed bodysurfers such as Mark Cunninghman and Dan Malloy, as well as neighborhood wave-riders who wanted to be a part of the tongue-in-cheek local response to the Rip Curl Pro Search taking place in San Francisco. While the Rip Curl Pro Search had been privileged with gorgeous weather and waves for the first few days of competition, the Bodysurf Classic summed up the character of Ocean Beach’s many moods a bit more realistically, as the waves varied from horrible to excellent and the weather shifted from howling onshore winds, to light sunshine, to spitting rain.
Danny Hess provided T-shirts to participating bodysurfers, and carved wooden waves and hands for the “winners” of the event, including Blake Corbin for best barrel, Judith Sheridan for Ocean Beach Legend Award, and Mark Cunningham for first place, Joe Sloggy (who went in without a wetsuit and wore only a Speedo while bodysurfing) for second, and Blake Corbin for third.
Photos and video: Jon Weiand / Ocean Beach Bulletin