Named one of the “ten best little surf towns in America” by Coastal Living magazine, Wrightsville Beach will host three headline surf events in a span of two weeks.
First on the calendar, Aug. 10-12, is the Wrightsville Beach Wahine Classic, open to lady surfers of all ages including amateurs, professionals, and teenie wahines. This marks the 21st consecutive year of Wahine competition at Wrightsville Beach, excluding a hiatus in 2012.
“The atmosphere of the Wahine Classic is friendly and enjoyable, where many girls get their start and their first taste of surfing competition,” said Jo Pickett, event organizer. “Everybody’s happy and laughing. There are a few tears shed and some disappointment, but it’s a very encouraging and nurturing environment.”
Next on the calendar, Aug. 17-19, the 13th annual O’Neill/Sweetwater Pro-Am Surf Fest takes over the town. The second largest surf contest on the East Coast, Surf Fest attracts 64 of the top international and homegrown pros, plus an estimated two-hundred of the best amateurs. Weekend events include Saturday’s Music and Art Fest, combining local musicians, arts, crafts, and family activities. Proceeds benefit nonprofits Hope From Helen and UNCW’s Surf Club.
“Wrightsville is a great beach community and the Surf Fest Pro-Am is very spectator friendly,” said Brad Beach, event manager and co-founder. “You’ll see professional surfers from all over the world at the top of their game. In the amateur ranks, we tend to get the top surfers on the East Coast, most coming from Florida to New Jersey.”
Wrapping the triad of surf-celebrations on Aug. 20, is Surfers Healing, a non-profit organization on a mission to enrich the lives of those living with autism by exposing them to the unique experience of surfing. Surfers Healing is celebrating its 21st season of providing one-day surf camps at no cost to almost 5,000 children in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
“Surfers Healing is a wonderful experience and a perfect therapy for a child with autism,” said John Pike, Director of Development for Surfers Healing Foundation. “Although we work with thousands of children and families, we think in ones. One child, one family, one day at the beach, where we can make a difference and effect change.”
“Our host hotel, Blockade Runner, is an autism-friendly resort accommodating a neuro-diverse demographic,” said Pike. “This is important information to share with our children and families.”
A short walk on the beach to all three events, Blockade Runner Beach Resort, is the host hotel for Surfers Healing and the Wahine Classic.
“In the late 60s and early 70s, surfboards went from 10-feet to five-feet long. Longboard fell out of fashion,” said Pickett. “In the past five years, longboarding is enjoying a fabulous comeback. While the majority of the girls are still on a shortboard, we are getting close to half and half at the Wahine Classic.”
“Longboarding is quite beautiful to watch,” said Pickett. “Many of the young ladies are proficient on the nose of the board with excellent cross stepping skills. I’m constantly mesmerized.”
“Surfing is not just kids,” said Brad Beach. “It’s a lifestyle for people 8 to 80. Just being out in the ocean and with nature. That’s what I think is so cool about our sport.”
“There’s an excitement watching or participating in the Pro-Am,” said Beach. “Watching the action of surfing but also seeing the carefree lifestyle beachgoers and surfers live and desire. Regardless of where you live, most people want to feel carefree, even if it’s only a couple of hours on a Saturday.”