Wrightsville Beach welcomes wahines


At many beaches, male surfers outnumber female surfers. That will not be the case, however, on Aug. 16 and 17 at the south end of Wrightsville Beach.

For the seventeenth year, Wrightsville Beach will host the female surfing community for the East Coast Wahine Classic presented by Crystal South Surf Camp and Indo Jax Surf School.

The contest welcomes surfer girls age five to 65 and includes divisions for all ability levels, from sponsored professionals to novices entering their first contest. Competitors have the option to enter the longboard, shortboard or SUP surf category.

Although many of the competitors are from the Wrightsville Beach area, contest organizer Jo Pickett said she expects several talented professional surfers from out of town to enter this year’s event.

“We have a standout longboarder coming from Virginia Beach,” Pickett said in an Aug. 8 phone interview. “Her name is Morgan Knight and she won it last year. Another pro longboarder, Leldon McClary, is coming from South Carolina.”

Pickett said she has been coaching several of the local girls this summer, working with them on their skills and technique, and she feels they have a good chance to do well against the professionals.

“I’m going to encourage some of the girls who compete in ESA contests around here to enter the pro division,” Pickett said. “I work with quite a few of them each morning, and we’re out there surfing all the conditions that the ocean is serving up.”

One of those girls is Savannah Meeks. Meeks won the 15-and-under novice division last year and this year she is entering the girls shortboard amateur division. She said in addition to eating healthy and practicing every day, her preparation has included refining her competitive surfing to meet the judges’ criteria.

“Now that [the judges]know I can get up on the board, they want to see me do different stuff rather than just trying to catch a wave,” Meeks said. “You can only catch a certain amount of waves and the two best waves count so you have to be careful about that.”

Wrightsville Beach local Kirby Smith is also graduating from the novice division to the amateur division this year. Smith said the supportive atmosphere of the East Coast Wahine Classic fueled her interest in competitive surfing.

“It gave me the opportunity to have fun and do my best,” she said. “I was nervous before my heat but the girls were really nice and asking me if I was new, and now we’re all friends. It’s a good community.”

Pickett said 30 local businesses have sponsored this year’s event, making it possible to hold several raffles and giveaways on the beach throughout the weekend. Activities like these make the contest fun for not only the competitors, but also the many spectators that stop by to be a part of the atmosphere.

“A lot of girls that don’t want to compete still come just to be a part of the event, to be on the beach with hundreds of other female surfers,” Pickett said. “The sport has been male-dominated since its inception and the girls now realize that this is our time.”

For more information visit www.crystalsouthsurfcamp.com/wb-wahine-classic/

Email emmy@luminanews.com

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