Aspiring young surfers will find instruction and inspiration on Wrightsville Beach this summer.
The Gnarly Charley Surf Series will stop at Wrightsville Beach’s Crystal Pier on June 1. Founder Charley Hajek, who has a slew of amateur contest wins to his name, said he hopes the series will instill young groms with skills and sportsmanship needed to perform well in contests.
He also hopes it will be fun.
“It’s not just a surf contest. It’s a carnival of fun on the beach. I have running races, tug of war, boys against girls and of course the surf contest,” Hajek said. “It benefits them as far as meeting new friends, growing confidence. It’s a great base for sportsmanship.”
Hajek said he is excited for the series’ first-ever stop in Wrightsville Beach.
“It’s a fun surf city. Everybody’s [had]open arms and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and working with the kids,” Hajek said.
Sign-ups start at 8 a.m. June 1. The cost is $25, which includes a trophy and T-shirt for every kid. Events begin at 9 a.m. and end around 3 p.m.
In July, surf camps for the visually and hearing impaired, organized by Indo Jax Surf Charity, will welcome another batch of young surfers into the waves.
Indo Jax co-founder Jack Viorel said his surf camps also aim to instill confidence in participants.
“It has less to do with surfing and it has everything to do with the rest of their lives and how they approach issues and difficulties. If they never surf again, they will remember if they could surf, they can do anything,” Viorel said.
The camps have called Wrightsville Beach Public Access No. 10 home since 2007, when the first camp drew only five kids because parents feared it was too dangerous.
“There’s this limiting belief among the kids that are blind. … What we have found is that they come out, they have a great time and they do just as well as anyone else,” Viorel said.
Viorel said he expects at least 40 participants in the July 2014 camps for the visually and hearing impaired.
As the camps grew, the organization struggled to find financial assistance to accept every child for free. In 2014, the Helen Keller Foundation offered to support the camps for three years.
“They’re building awareness plus helping financially. That allows us to keep up with growing numbers,” Viorel said.
The camp for the visually impaired will take place July 14-18, from 5-7 p.m. The camp for the hearing impaired will take place July 28-31. Preregistration is preferred so the staff can make appropriate accommodations for each participant’s safety.