When Tom Beatty, owner of Wooden Jetty Surf Shop in Beach Haven and President of Alliance for A Living Ocean, ran the first LBI Longboard Classic in 2009, he was merely hoping for some kind of wave to ride that day.
What he didn't expect was 8-foot storm surf, courtesy of Hurricane Bill, that would force the postponement of the contest. When ALO finally held the event a week later, there were overhead waves, courtesy of Tropical Storm Danny. This year, he's not sure what to expect.
"Last year was a treat. We had epic conditions, but I feel like that swell hurt the signups a bit. People were struggling to ride old boards without leashes in those waves," said Beatty, a surfer and fisherman from the Holgate section of Long Beach Township.
The LBI Longboard Classic, held on the 110th Street beach in Long Beach Township, is a celebration of surfing's past. Only 1960s-era boards with no leashes can be ridden. There won't be any Category Five hurricanes offshore on Saturday, but a fun swell is likely.
While 2009 was a success, the response this year has been even better, according to Kristin Neal, ALO's interim executive director. In addition to LBI locals, she's already received registrations from Toms River, Ocean City and inland surfers.
The contest, which will again feature live traditional 1960s surf music by the Diamondheads, has exploded into a full environmental fair with a tent village of eco-minded organizations and local businesses sponsoring green initiatives.
"Everybody I've talked to is really excited to come down and break out the old boards," Beatty said.
Manny of the boards are old Hobie Alters or Greg Nolls, two classic surfboard shapers who assembled rival teams on LBI in the 1960s. Some of those surfers still come out to the Classic.
Last year, Holgate lifeguard Tucker McGrath stylishly edged out Ship Bottom's Billy Webster on a Hansen "Master" model from 1967.
In addition to the surf contest, today will also see an ocean paddle race and a skimboard contest. Beatty is hoping to keep with the vintage theme, having the racers paddle classics and the skimmers compete on vintage skimboards. Beatty adds that he has his old Sandpiper skimboard to ride.
Alliance for a Living Ocean, headquartered in Ship Bottom, is a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness and protection of the waters around Long Beach Island. The event starts at 8 a.m. today. Surfers can register for $35 at the ALO Headquarters, 202 W. 27th Ave. in Ship Bottom and the Wooden Jetty Surf Shop at 126 N. Bay Ave., Beach Haven, or on the beach for $40. All proceeds benefit ALO. Call 609-494-7800.
LBI Longboard Classic
When: Starts at 8 a.m. today
Where: 110th Street Beach, Long Beach Township
How much: To surf, $35 in advance, $40 at the beach. All proceeds benefit the Alliance for a Living Ocean. Call 609-494-7800.