It’s all about sharing the stoke – respecting one another out in the water and being good ocean stewards.
And the beaches belong to everyone.
That’s this year’s message for the Surfrider Foundation’s International Surfing Day, a quasi-holiday created in 2005 to celebrate the sport and promote the protection of clean water and healthy beaches.
“We have made it a huge priority to make sure we are encouraging, and have a welcoming and inclusive beach culture for all,” Surfrider Foundation’s Head of Marketing Eddie Anaya said.
As a record number of people flocked to beaches around the country in the past year – some coastlines experiencing a 200% to 300% increase in visitation – the need for Surfrider’s “Good Vibes Beach Guide” is especially important as weather warms up and tourist season approaches, Anaya said.
“All those themes are what we’re seeing as vital right now. Everyone is excited, it’s summertime and we know there’s going to be a lot of excitement to get to the beaches, so we want to have each other’s back and enjoy it together,” he said.
International Surfing Day is always the third Saturday of June and typically has about 200 gatherings worldwide in more than 30 countries, with more than 1 million participants in the last decade.
In the past, events have ranged from surfing and stand-up paddleboarding clinics, kayaking competitions to beach cleanups and collaborations with organizations to bring kids and underserved communities to the beach.
While there’s still coronavirus pandemic concerns lingering and gatherings are limited, there’s are ways to celebrate in 2021, Anaya said.
It could be pushing a newbie into waves or cheering on a beginner enjoying their first session. Or it could be as simple as letting people know where waves might be too dangerous or advising people to sit near lifeguards, he said.
“As a lifelong surfer, I feel a responsibility to keep an eye out for a new surfer,” Anaya said.
Surfing can be a sport where people simply seek out as many waves as they can get for themselves, but it can also be more about inclusivity, he said.
“I, as a selfish surfer most of my life, I want to catch all the waves I can get. But I recognize that it’s a finite resource and we need to find a way we can share,” he said. “I think it’s acknowledging there’s a reason why we love surfing. We all go down to the beach and surf because it’s an amazing sport. More people are going to want to experience that as well. It’s good for us that we’re all wanting to do it in a safe and positive way.”
There are ways to get involved with groups that help underserved communities get to the beach, with many people in the region not having transportation or means to make a trip to the coast.
Beach cleanups are another way to get involved, with more debris dotting the sand and waterways due to the increased crowds and single-use plastics and PPEs brought to the beach during the pandemic.
While solo cleanups are a great way to give back, a few Surfrider chapters are meeting for the first time since the pandemic started last year.
The Surfrider Huntington/Seal Beach chapter is hosting a beach cleanup from 8 a.m. to noon at two locations Saturday, the Seal Beach Pier and the San Gabriel River Jetty, the first the group has held since February 2020.
“Our mantra is to protect and enjoy ways you can make sure it’s clean and not add more burden for the different types of services at the beach – pack in and pack out your trash,” he said. “Pick up trash you see on the beach to keep it clean.”
Attendees have to pre-register online and it is limited to 50 people per location, though some spots may be available the day of the event, according to an announcement by the Huntington Beach/Seal Beach chapter.
An surf session and cleanup event is happening in Manhattan Beach between 26th and 27th streets at Bruce’s Beach, a significant location in itself, once owned by a Black couple, Willa and Charles Bruce, who operated a beach resort but were forced out – the city seizing the property through eminent domain.
While discussions of returning the beach to Bruce family descendants are ongoing, there’s also been more attention to inclusion at local beaches.
“As we’re in this unique time, as things are opening up and there’s tons of enthusiasm, we see there’s so much people get out of the gift of surfing,” Anaya said. “How can we all give back? We want to encourage, regardless of race, economic background or gender, to just enjoy the special day of surfing.”
Urban Surf for Kids is a nonprofit with an Orange County chapter that helps get kids in impoverished communities to the coast.
The Los Angeles Surfrider Chapter started One Watershed, aimed at improving access for underrepresented communities in Los Angeles County to their local beach for “surfing, fun in the sun and conversations in community watershed conservation.”
Denise Erkeneff, president of Surfrider’s South OC chapter, said no official event is being held by the group this year for International Surfing Day, but people can enjoy on their own.
“We are encouraging everyone to go and celebrate the Surfrider holiday, go to your favorite beach and celebrate,” she said.
Ideas to consider include a picnic at the grass overlooking Salt Creek beach, but don’t use single-use plastics, she encouraged. Doheny State Beach is also a good all-day beach outing. Get there early enough and you may be able to nab a fire ring for when the sun sets.
“Make it a whole day,” Erkeneff said.
End the day with a surf movie that can transport you to far-away waves. While there’s plenty of action-packed flicks with pro surfers, try a film that explores culture and compassion.
A good pick would be “Breaking Boundaries,” a film that follows the San Clemente Gudauskas brothers – Pat, Dane and Tanner – to Trinidad and Tobago as they deliver boards donated from across the country through their nonprofit Positive Vibe Warriors.
Surfline, a surf forecasting company based in Huntington Beach, also suggests a list of ways to enjoy the day: have a surf session, go to in the water on any type of watercraft that will allow you to catch a wave, or simply go bodysurfing or swimming. If you’re not near the beach, you can log on and mind surf their cameras that show beaches around the world.
“Break out the ukulele and your favorite Hawaiian shirt, make yourself a Dick Dale playlist, call up an old surf buddy and wax nostalgic on all your experiences together,” Surfline says. “Bottom line: Stay stoked. All day. Longer if possible.”
Source: Orange County Register