Oceanside Pier- Saturday Aug. 20th 6am:
Local buoys read 6ft. at 16 seconds from the SSW. The beach on both sides of the Pier quickly filled with tents and bodysurf fins as an international contingent prepared to kickoff the 40th Annual World Bodysurfing Championships.
Competitors ranged from 12 to 75 years old and from California, New York, Hawaii, Brazil, Australia, France and Britain. They discussed strategies and the inevitable, dreaded current. Solid south swells tend to create strong longshore currents at open beachbreaks like Oceanside. The contest weekend certainly had plenty. Competitors on the south side started their heats 200-400 yards down the beach, expecting the strong drift. Some heats saw numerous competitors wash through the Pier. But the surf remained good to very good throughout the entire weekend.
With Team Kaha Nalu Hawaii making the trip, the unexpected appearance of Mike Stewart, first time contestants from around the world and California’s best…the overall level of bodysurfing was extraordinarily high at the 2016 WBC.
On Saturday night, Swell Lines hosted an event at the nearby Spring Hill Marriott. Tim Burnham screened his fantastic documentary “Dirty Old Wedge” to the delight of the crowd. They laughed, gasped, cried and sat on the edge of their seats. We also planned to honor Viper Surf Fin inventor, Fred Simpson, for his contributions to bodysurfing and the World Bodysurfing Contest.
After the movie, we called a panel of seminal bodysurf figures to the front for a question and answer session. Including Fred Simpson, Mark Cunningham, Mike Stewart, Tim Burnham, JT Nickelson, and Teddy Bandaruk. For us here at Swell Lines Inc, the opportunity to bring Fred, Mark, Mike and an international crew of bodysurfers together to celebrate bodysurfing and the Ocean was a dream come true.
Somebody asked Mark about bodysurfing Teahupoo. “Eh there’s just too much water moving for it to be a great bodysurfing wave.” Mike sharply interrupted, “It’s a perfect bodysurf wave. So much potential.” We all see the Ocean a but different, but certainly Mike’s perspective is especially unique.
Next, Scott Hubbell honored Fred for his years of dedication to the WBC with a beautiful ceramic bowl lined with breaking waves. Tim Burnham gave Fred a one of kind, gold plated Viper Fin plaque. Then an older gentleman rushed to the stage, took the microphone in an impromptu moment of honor. He introduced himself as a friend and former coworker of Fred’s at Xerox. He told the story of Fred’s revolutionary Wedge bodysurfing style. Apparently, in the late 60’s, Fred was rushing through the Xerox offices, slipped on the floor, his necktie then caught in a filing cabinet, one of his hands reached out to break his fall and his other hand formed the now classic chicken wing from his hip. “The Fred” was born.
Men’s Age Group Winners:
12-14 Alexander Makshanoff
15-17 Dylan Biggerstaff
18-24 Cole Margo
25-34 Alexander Vicente
35-44 Matt Solomon
45-54 Mike Stewart
55-64 Mark Cunningham
65+ Jim Isaac
Women’s Age Group Winners:
12-17 Lauren Padilla
18-29 Makena Magro
30-44 Scotti Shafer
45+ Briguette Wiedemeyer
Men’s Grand Champion
Women’s Grand Champion
Team Champion (7th straight)
*Special thanks to Tim Cassinelli, Scott Hubbell and their crews for an excellent contest!