A pro-am longboard and standup paddleboard competition, a surf film festival and a surf expo are just a few of the events planned for the inaugural Wrightsville Beach Waterman Ocean Festival beginning May 1.
In its 14th year, the Wrightsville Beach Longboard Association Longboard Classic and SUP Surfing Pro-Am is one of the events anchoring the festival.
WBLA vice president John Sideris said professional and amateur competitors have already begun registering for the contest. The pros will be competing for a $4,000 prize purse in both the longboard and SUP divisions.
So far 20 professionals have registered between the two divisions with 10 others verbally committed to competing, Sideris said. The pro division will max out at 45 contestants and Sideris said event organizers expect the amateur registration to reach 60. The cutoff for registration is May 1.
Sideris said the contest is planned to take place east of Columbia Street Public Access No. 26, May 3-4.
Another major component to the festival is scheduled at the Wrightsville Beach Holiday Inn Resort, Annex Surf Supply and Tidal Creek Co-op with short- and feature-length surf films showing for Surfalorus film festival.
Founded in 2012 as an offshoot of the Cucalorus film festival, Surfalorus has migrated to different venues in New Hanover County each year. Surfalorus coordinator James Martin said he is excited about the festival being based in Wrightsville Beach this year and collaborating with the waterman’s festival.
“It is awesome that we are exclusively in Wrightsville Beach this year, and I don’t think that would have happened without the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History and the WBLA,” Martin said. “That is a big step for the festival and I think it will really start to engage that community, which was a goal from the beginning of the year.”
Starting with a barbecue and surf shorts block on Thursday at the Annex Surf Supply, the festival’s climax will be the 50th anniversary screening of Bruce Brown’s classic surf film, “The Endless Summer,” at the Holiday Inn Resort Friday, May 2. The screening is part of the film’s worldwide 50th anniversary tour. Martin said having such a recognizable film would help bring in a new Surfalorus audience.
Another highlight of the Surfalorus program will be the surf expo on the lawn in front of Tidal Creek Co-op all day Saturday, May 3. Martin said the expo was the most successful part of last year’s Surfalorus and there would be around 30 exhibitors present at the event he called half surf expo and half block party.
On the night of the “Endless Summer” premier, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History will announce the raffle winner of the replica Robert August “Endless Summer” surfboard and the inaugural class of inductees to the Wrightsville Beach Waterman Hall of Fame.
Wrightsville Beach Museum director Madeline Flagler said the Robert August surfboard raffle has attracted a significant amount of attention and the hall of fame will continue to help the museum showcase the local history of Wrightsville Beach.
Visit www.wblasurf.org for more information about the festival.