The rumors started making their way through the surf industry in early 2015. There was a group called the West Coast Boardriders working on plans to create a small trial contest series that would pit the best surfers in each community against one another in a team - Club v Club format. The concept was to mimic the surf club contests that are so huge, highly competitive and respected in Australia.
Ever since we started the SBBC in 2009 we’d had discussions about the need for such a contest series. So when we started to hear these rumors we immediately stuck our name into the conversations hoping to be able to get a South Bay team into the mix.
The WCBR formally kicked off its series in 2017 with 3 contests that featured all Orange County teams (Huntington Beach, Newport, Seal Beach, & Dana Point) and it was a success. There were instantly requests from newly forming clubs as far north as Santa Cruz and as far south as San Diego to get entered into the next contests. In 2018 the WCBR created a northern and a southern division and laid out 3 contests for each division – with a seventh championship contest to feature the top 3 teams from each division and to crown a true West Coast Boardriders Club Champion.
Initially we got some pushback coming in as the “South Bay”. Every other club was specific to a single city, and as the South Bay we we’re asking to be allowed to create our surf team by pulling the best surfers from PV, Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan and El Segundo. As rich as our surfing history is here in the South Bay, to field a competitive team we knew we were going to have cast a wider net. We’ve got the talent but something about the make-up of the beach cities and maybe even our proximity to downtown LA seems to scatter our best surfers both by age and hometown. Anyway, they ultimately accepted our appeal and in March of 2018 we entered the first official South Bay Boardriders Club Surf Team into the first legitimate West Coast Club contest.
On March 3rd, 2018 at the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, on a day that was rainy and windy, and then sunny and glassy, and then rainy and windy again, 28 South Bay Surfers shocked the other 5 teams from Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach by winning the inaugural West Coast Boardriders Contest. We narrowly beat out Huntington Beach that had supposedly never lost a team event at their home beach. At the awards ceremony later that afternoon, there was no shortage of murmured grumbles about us being the South Bay and pulling surfers from multiple cities, while the teams like Seal Beach and San Luis Obispo are such sparsely populated little towns. But we awarded Matt Pagan our MVP for the contest for coming through with a huge score on his last wave with time running out, and we carried the WCBR Northern Division Cup out of Orange County with the South Bay logo and plaque freshly and forever affixed to it.
Then our challenges truly began. We need 28 surfers each contest to make up our team. That’s broken down by age as 4 each from under 14, 15 to 19, 20 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 + and 4 girls. After word spread about the first win we started getting calls from guys that felt they should have been on the team. So as we started working on the 28 surfers for the next contest in Ventura in May we tried to incorporate some of the others that would represent the South Bay well. Our assertion that we needed to pull from all the South Bay cities proved to be true and while we had some age groups with too many great guys available, it was mostly a struggle to get a full team of 28 for Ventura. We had some highlight moments and the waves were really good but we finished 5th. With only 1 contest remaining we knew we were going to have to get a top 3 result to have any shot of making the championships.
The contest was July 7th in Santa Cruz and as we’d find out, getting 28 people (let alone 28 good surfers) to make the 7 hour drive north during the July 4th holiday week is a big ask. We couldn’t pull together a full team but we represented with a team of about 18 and we finished 5th again (because Seal Beach couldn’t even get that many surfers and pulled out of the contest the week of.) We were recognized multiple times throughout the day and at the awards for having still made trek and the effort to compete without a full team. And we had several guys get to surf Steamer Lane with only 4 other guys out on a beautiful day. We learned a lot from the Santa Cruz club and the massive showing of support from their community. But we missed out on the chance to represent the South Bay in the championships and, fair to say, we finished our first season optimistic but still slightly disappointed.
Since July the WCBR has exploded and it’s just the beginning for our South Bay Boardriders Club Surf Team. There are now even more Surf Clubs that have formed on the west coast, along with several on the east coast and even a couple in Texas. The divisions are being reshuffled and the schedule is getting re-worked. There’s talk of having the best clubs from the US compete against the best clubs in Australia. This thing is only growing and it’s growing fast.
We were ahead of the times when we created the South Bay Boardriders Club but the rest of the surfing communities are quickly following our lead. Our club does so many great things for our surfing and waterman communities. The South Bay Boardriders Club Surf Team will be another one of those great things and being a member of the South Bay Surf Club Surf Team will be an honor. As 1 of 4 surfers from your generation being asked to compete and represent the South Bay in these events you’re being recognized as one of the best of your time. We’re looking forward to holding work-outs, mock contests and team meetings. We’ll have TEAM specific gear for our 28+ surfers to represent us at each event. We’ve got so much surf talent and wisdom – especially from the 50+ legends – to be passed along to all the incredible up and coming groms. It’s going to be blast! And we’re going to make sure the South Bay is well respected when we show up anywhere!
Coaches – Dickie O’Reilly, Matt Walls, Dane Zaun