Joe Surf: Senior surfers seeking bragging rights

October 26, 2011|By Joe Haakenson

No, there's no truth to the rumor that Kelly Slater will compete in this Saturday's Huntington Beach Senior Surf Invitational.

While Slater indeed is the old man of the ASP World Tour, he's still a young man by any other standard at age 39. The HB Senior Surf Invite is open to those ages 50 and up, so Slater will have to wait a few years.

The old guys will get out there on the south side of the HB Pier Saturday morning in what was previously called the Senior Olympics Surf Contest. The awards are trophies, not the $100,000 Slater brought home from winning the US Open a couple months ago.


But for 99.999% of the surfers out there, it's not about the money.

"A lot of it is bragging rights," said Chris Slama, the Huntington Beach city recreation supervisor who is running Saturday's contest. "There's a lot of camaraderie. They know each other going years back. Although it's fun, there are going to be guys going at it, going for the first-place trophies. But in the end, it's all good."

Trophies go to the top three place finishers in each division — 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74 and 75+ — and there will also be gift packages awarded that were donated by local businesses.

The city is putting on the event, taking it over from the Senior Olympics, which is based in Anaheim and had previously sanctioned the contest.

"They dropped out of the event, so we took it on," Slama said.

The primary sponsor is the Huntington Beach Council on Aging, and the others sponsors are Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Huntington Surf & Sport.

Last year's contest had 64 competitors. So far this year, Slama said there are 60 registered. He said there are a few slots still open, and he's is especially interested in adding more women to the contest.

There is one division for women: 50 and up.

Slama said the oldest competitor to register is an 86-year-old.

"It sets an example and inspiration to really everybody of what you can achieve," Slama said.

The waves Saturday should be pretty good, but as you can imagine, this is primarily a longboard group.

"That's mostly what we'll see," Slama said. "But I'm sure we'll see a few shortboarders. There'll be some shortboarders in the 50-54 division, and of course it depends on the waves, too."

Last year's winner of the 50-54 division, Mike Downey of Huntington Beach, is one of the judges this year. And though most of the competitors are H.B. locals, the contest is open to all-comers.

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