Surf’s Up

By Barbara B. Covell for the TODAY

Published on September 27, 2017 2:49PM

In the competitive world of surfing, there’s a unique language. First, there’s the weather, which doesn’t necessarily mean rain or sunshine, but wind conditions, specifically the knots and direction. Then, swells, including height and direction, a big factor whether you’re a novice or advanced competitor. The swell dynamic is also important- choppy or smooth. Small waves are considered ankle busters. And, don’t forget the break- beach breaks put you on the sand. A barrel or a tube is considered the ultimate experience. Dumpers are not fun, they usually precipitate a wipeout.

Most important to any surfer is the ride and what he or she can do with it. The feeling of catching a ride or “taking the drop” down the face of a wave is exhilarating to any level of surfer. The combination of balance, stance, and agility can turn the experience from a drop to a masterful spin or aerial maneuver. This is why surfing draws all ages of men and women to gear up or enjoy the thrills of being a spectator.

The Oregon coast offers dynamic surfing opportunities. The rugged coastline, unparalleled views, and offshore winds create ideal conditions. With the right gear, surfers acclimate to the chilly 55 degree ocean temperatures.

On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, the City of Newport Parks and Recreation will host the second annual Agate Beach Surf Classic for surfers of all levels. According to Mike Cavanaugh, Sports Coordinator for the City’s Parks and Recreation department,

“This is a one of a kind event. It is sponsored by the City in collaboration with private businesses. Most people have never seen this; surfing contests are usually put on by surf shops.”

Cavanaugh says the iconic headlands and vast coastline make Agate Beach a good location.

“Last year we had 92 contestants and we expect a good turnout again,” he stated. Agate Beach is also ideal for spectators.

“It is a cool atmosphere, a complete beach party, a great place to meet people,” Cavanaugh added. “We’ll have a DJ playing surf music, Rogue Brewery will be serving food and beer, folks will be setting up small tents, building campfires, and grilling food.”

Packet pickup is on Friday evening at Rogue Brewery in South Beach. The competitions begin on Saturday at 8 am, with onsite registrations closing 15 minutes prior to the first heat.

Cavanaugh encourages surfers to pre-register online at Fees are $40, or $50 onsite. “We want to be sure we can accommodate everyone,” he said. “Last year we had a huge boom of onsite registrations, so we had to change a few heats at the last minute.”

The competition is organized into the following divisions: Youth 12 & Under (with or without parent), Stand Up Paddleboard (non-age, non-gender), Junior Women 13-18 (long or shortboard), Men 19-49 (longboard), Pro/Am Men (shortboard), and Men 50+ in Honor of Bear Club Legends (long or shortboard).

Each division is broken down into heats. Saturday’s schedule will have sixteen 20-minute heats with four to six surfers per heat. There are two preliminary rounds for each heat. Organizers try to give surfers the most time available in the water to demonstrate their skills. Second rounds give people the benefit of competition, since conditions and sets vary. A competitor’s score is a lump sum of their first two rounds.

Pivotal to the contest organization is the Heat Board, which will be up by 7:45 am daily. Each heat begins with flag and airhorn. A second flag/airhorn signals 5 minutes left in the heat. Those surfers scheduled for the upcoming heat should be in the designated warmup area. The third airhorn signals the end of the heat.

Sunday will have thirteen heats, including two men’s Repechage rounds for those who don’t get advanced in Saturday’s heats.

“This extends the event,” Cavanaugh said.

“It gives people another opportunity.”

Sunday’s finals wrap up at 3 pm with awards and a raffle. Prizes are given to the top three competitors in each division. Last year’s winners include Jeremy Rasmussen, Johnny Grubbs, George DeSoto, and Amelia O’Connor.

The Committee members organizing this event with Cavanaugh are Dan Hasselschwert, Kirk Tice, and Ollie Richardson, offering skills in marketing, fund raising, beach/event coordinating, and judging.

“All of us are volunteer coordinators,” Cavanaugh said.

“It takes an army to put on a contest like this. We need volunteers for all aspects of setup, registration, party setup, and teardown. This event is on the shoulder season past summer. We want to build the economy for Newport. Our amazing sponsors have made this possible. Ossies Surf Shop, Ocean Pulse Surf Shop, Rogue Brewery, and the Newport Chamber of Commerce are 2017 Presenting Sponsors. Gold Sponsors are Ocean Equity Real Estate and Sport Guard.”

All proceeds from the event go toward the youth scholarship program for sports, summer camp, and after school programs at the Newport Recreation Center.

For more information, or call 541-265-7783.