OCEAN CITY - Like a bikini-clad Goldilocks, the Marie A. Becker Memorial Longboard Contest has seen waves that were too high and waves that were too low - but on Saturday, in the wake of Hurricane Earl, they were just right.
Or close enough, anyway. The surfers were at the beach with longboards - what else were they going to do?
"As far as this contest's surf goes, we've had a history of no surf or too much surf," said surfer Scotty Goucher, of Ocean City. "But the waves look pretty good today."
"We've had years where the waves were so big and so intense, we've had to move it to the other side of the pier," said co-founder Erich Becker, of Ocean City.
This was the 10th year of the annual Surf for a Cure competition, started by Becker and a few of the other 12 children of Ocean City resident Marie Becker, who died of a brain tumor in 2000. All proceeds benefit the American Brain Tumor Association.
"My mom dying was such a shock to us," said Erich (No. 7), standing next to Pauline (No. 4) and Robert (No. 13). "We all grew up together, and we decided to raise money for research and get things done."
On Saturday, about 100 surfers gathered at the beach at 59th Street in groups ranging from "Groms" (11 to 16 years old), "Mini-groms" (10 and under), "Wahine" (women 26 and up) and the first group to surf, "Real Men" (40-49).
Of course, if you learned the names of the categories only after several guys in Speedoes keep insisting "I'm a real man," then it just sounded kind of weird.
"The tone to it is more friendly than competitive," said Goucher. "But the top surfers will be the ones that win. Even though people are out to have fun, there are great people in each age bracket, and they're here to win it."
Herbie Godfrey, 15, of Ocean City, said he has been surfing his whole life - "But I never do good in contests," he added.
"This is fun, man, this is it," said his father, Herb Godfrey. "We're soul surfers, not competitors."
Godfrey, a Real Man - "'Cause I'm old," he explained - also said that the use of longboards contributed to the laid-back feel of the event.
That, and "us old, decrepit guys can't pop to our feet on a short board."
Grace Becker, 17, a member of the Ocean City High School surf team and daughter of Erich Becker, agreed with Godfrey about the different vibe of a longboard contest.
"This one's my favorite," the Greenfield, Upper Township resident said. "Longboards are better than short boards. It's less competitive and more friendly."
She's certainly put in her time in the water - Erich said he had her on a tandem board when she was 4 years old.
'They loved it!" he said of his kids. "They swallowed a lot of water, though."
For all their talk of friendliness and laid-backitude, however, both Scotty Goucher and Grace Becker were all business in the surf. Both walked away finishing first place in their competition, Becker in the Girls category and Goucher becoming the Realest of Men.
Locals dominated the event overall, with Paul Breitinger, Brian Stewart and Teddy Lyons of Ocean City taking first in the Older Men, Mini Grom and Young Men categories, respectively, while Upper Township residents Paul Becker (No. 11) and Jake Kreiser took first in the Men and Groms categories.
Even after such a successful day, though, there were still some people unconvinced.
"I could do it," said 9-year-old Josh Cummings, of Collingswood, watching the surfers do their thing. "But I'm not going to do it."
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For information on Surf for a Cure and the American Brain Tumor Association, visit click on this story online at pressofac.com.