A good friend, surfer, and fellow photographer gave me a heads up to check out the 36th Annual Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout at Carmel Beach on Sunday, May 15th. I'd never been to a surf competition before and it was an opportunity to practice people, so on Sunday I drove over to see what was going on.
Lots and lots of gear. It reminded me of my swimming days. When we went to the big meets there were tons of towels, googles, and other miscellaneous accruements littered all over the place like a bomb from the summer section at Target had gone off. However, at swim meets, there is a sense of urgency and intensity. The screams of coaches as loud as the frantic splashing of water. The smell of chlorine or ozone is inescapable, hovering like a mildewy cloud if you are swimming in an indoor pool.
This was similar but different. There was a sense of competition but it didn't feel cutthroat. The atmosphere was much more relaxed and the only screams were those of children as they ran around playing. It also smelled a lot better. It can be hit or miss with the ocean, but the strong wind that day was doing a great job of keeping any odors away. While watching the surfers was fun, there was plenty to be seen on the beach.
I've surfed a little, not as much as I would like, but I am not as brave as the people who where out there. The water here is COLD. A favorite local pastime is to watch tourists arrive at the beach in bikinis and run into the water only to get half a shin in before scrambling away screeching. Yep, sorry guys, it may be California but there is a whole northern half on top of that southern one.
A majority of my friends are crazy enough to surf the waves here so I just stand on the beach being cold for them. Despite how arctic the water is, when you're a surfer you will surf anytime anywhere.
Overall it was a blast. My glasses and lenses were covered with a film of sea salt by the time I left but it was worth it. The energy was great and they were shredding it out there. Here's to next year!
If you are ever in Monterey, the shop that held the event, Sunshine Freestyle Surf & Sport , provides rentals! Check em out!