Friday, July 22, 2011

Feeling groovy at 70s surf contest

(from OC Beach Blog)
The Surfside Seventies event is more than just another contest – it’s a way to pay tribute to those who paved the way to where we are today.
The laid-back event was held for the thirteenth year, bringing together about 75 competitors of all generations to take some waves, catch up with old friends, and just hang out on the sand at Anderson Street in Surfside, a small stretch of beach between Bolsa and Seal Beach.

“I’m digging the vibe,” said Shane Jones, who was competing for his first year. “Everyone is super mellow, I dig it. If I was born again, I’d want to be born in the 70s.”
There was a lot of talk on the sand about the past, and what the era did for the sport.
Gary Sahagen, of Huntington Beach, recalls it being the underground period where surfers didn’t dig contests, having a more anti- establishment mindset against businesses making money off the culture. Oh, and everyone had really thick moustaches. “The 70s were gnarly,” he said. “We all wanted to be soul surfers.” Then, Peter “PT” Townend won the first world championship, and along with the “Bronzed Aussies” started marketing the sport and making a living from it – helping to change the entire industry into what it is today.

“The 70s was pretty experimental,” said Townend, who along with his son Jye was in the contest. “Everybody did a different stuff. I was known for the soul arch and the lay back cut back. It was much more freestyle, and that’s the spirit of doing this contest.”

Boardwise, the designs were much different back in the day. Instead of just seeing the same ol’ thrusters in the water, there were the twin fins, single fins, wings and more. That was what was seen on the sand in Surfside. Competitors pull a number from a bowl before their heat, and that number determines what pile of old boards they can chose from. There were more than 100 retro boards from the 70s, many from the personal collection of Tony Alvarado.

The contest started when organizer Benny Bigler was working at Bruce Jones in the late ’90s, when people starting bringing in retro boards. He thought it would be a good idea to get a couple of friends together for an event. Surfboard shaper Tim Stamps once again took the win – his fifth Surfside title through the years. Stamps has entered the contest about ten times out of the last 13. “It’s just fun, there’s old boards and a collection of good surfers – young, old and in between. It’s about having a good time,” he said. “It’s a good vibe, everyone is happy. Win, lose or draw.”
Don Bigelow, of Orange, says it’s a lesson he tries to teach his kids: to pay respects to the guys who were doing this way before they were. “The older guys, they were the grass roots behind the whole movement of surfing,” he said. “It’s really important we know where the fundamentals of the sport came from, and what it’s all about.”

Did you miss it? Townend is also putting on a 70s contest in Huntington Beach on Sept. 17. The city event will allow 48 surfers to come out and competes 70s style – but they must have a board from that era, and it must be from a Huntington brand. To name a few: Robert August, David Nuuhiwa, Hawk … and there’s no winner announced, after the event everyone goes back to the Hilton, takes back a few beers, and talks about who caught the best waves – just like the old expression sessions four decades ago.

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