Parents Crowd the Shore, 2012
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I remember the first East Coast Surfing Competition, which is probably not something I should be bragging about since the 2o12 ECSC, as it’s come to be known, is the fiftieth anniversary of this event. In its early days the ECSC was mostly a local affair. There have been surfers in this area since at least the 1940s, riding waves on what today would seem like monstrously large and heavy wooden boards.
Surfing reached into the mainstream in summer of 1966 when the movie “Endless Summer” was released. Surfboards were being made from fiberglass by then, making them not only lighter and cheaper but also accessible to people who lived far from the waves.
The thrill of surfing can be hard to describe to someone who’s never done it. There you are, sitting out just beyond the breakers with nothing but the swell and energy of the mighty ocean underneath you. As you head out over the crest of the wave and down its front you feel the rush of being simultaneously in and out of control.
Over the decades, stymied only by the years when there were no waves to speak of, the ECSC became a more meaningful competition and attracted an increasingly national array of competitors.
The popularity of surfing goes up and down. But wherever there are waves there are dedicated surfers of all ages who take to the water whenever they can. They come from all walks of life, but all are equal when they get out on the ocean. They pass their love of the waves along to their children as soon as the little ones can swim. Women have become a much bigger part of the surfing scene these days.
Adolescent Scrum, 2012
Surfing is still the center of the ECSC. But like a lot of festivals and competitions these days, it’s become as much a business of retailing and brand reinforcement as a celebration of wave riding. This past weekend the crowds in the vendor area were, if anything, larger than the number of people out on the beach watching the surfing. Middle schoolers lined up at retail tents for free temporary tattoos, flavored water, t-shirts and hats adorned with the names of popular surf-oriented brands. Corporate sponsors put on competitions of BMX bikers and skaters. Bands played and beer tents opened at night for aging Baby Boomers anxious to rekindle a few memories of those old days in the sun of the endless summer.
Getting the Picture, 2012