The Surfrider Foundation sponsored the fifth annual Surfrider Longboard Team Challenge at the Castle in the Sand in Ocean City on June 11.
Winning is the chief goal at most surfing competitions, but the Longboard Challenge was laid back. Teams intermingled, shared laughs and stories, and enjoyed the atmosphere. Mothers surfed with daughters and fathers with sons in what seemed more like a picnic than a competition. But that was what made it so fun.
“Just being out here with all these different surfers is like being at a reunion — it’s a lot of fun,” said Bonnie Preziosi.
Preziosi was joined on her team by her three kids, Hanna, Tim and Nick, and friend Steven Bolgiano. She started surfing shortboards in 1977 but took 10 years off from the sport when her kids were born.
“I actually planned my first pregnancy around the summer so I could surf in the summer without showing a belly,” said Preziosi.
Contestants from Hawaii, New Jersey, Florida, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Annapolis and Delaware turned out to compete in the event in five-man teams, with the highest wave garnering the top score.
That proved a difficult goal because the waves never reached more than 2 feet during the competition. But every once in a while a wave would roll on down and break for a nice ride for whoever was lucky enough to be in that particular spot.
The waves broke the best just south of the northern buoy but surfers switched sides in a sort of halftime, so as not to give any one team an advantage.
The waves might not have been conducive for the speedy shortboards but they sure moved those longboards along.
“The East Coast doesn’t get a lot of big surf, but these waves are suited for longboards,” said Mike Baroco.
Though the highest wave was what scored, surfers still flashed some showmanship and tested their best tricks. They effortlessly spun their boards and tip-toed back and forth on their boards like they were on a balancing beam as they wowed the crowd.
In one instance, two surfers caught the same wave — each coming from the opposite direction — and when the surfer going left bailed, the surfer going right tried to jump on the abandoned board.
The transfer was unsuccessful but from the cheers on the beach one would’ve thought that he landed it. Spectators were just happy to see him try.
While there were no losers, only one team could actually win. That honor went to Team Ashton, which comprised Jon Ashton, Art Baltrosky, Justin Weismiller, and Chris and Ian Tilghman.
Team Ashton was presented a 3-foot tiki-style statue in honor of the victory. The trophy will be on display for the next 12 months at K-Coast’s new surf shop.
Proceeds from the event were to go to the Blue Water Task Force, Storm Drain Marking, Beachscape, Hold on to your Butts, Adopt Your Beach and Respect the Beach conservation efforts.