International paddle surfing champions are arriving in Wrightsville Beach for the biggest standup paddle board competition on the East Coast, the Wrightsville Beach SUP Surf Pro-Am this weekend. Among the competitors will be India’s first SUP female champion.
Local SUP surfer April Zilg met Tanvi Jagadish when she was living in India in 2012. Since that time, the 16-year-old Indian has won three first place national surfing titles.
“Her dream is to continue to train and represent her country in SUP, and to also compete all over the world,” Zilg wrote on a crowdsourcing website she used to fund the girl’s travel expenses. The fundraiser collected over $2,000.
“Flights from India aren’t cheap,” Zilg said, but with the funds raised, the pair was able to purchase a flight.
Jagadish is set to compete in the Pro Am that will begin with a registration and welcome meetup on Friday, April 14 at Carolina Paddle Co.
The surfing is scheduled to begin Saturday at 8:00 a.m. at Crystal Pier and conclude Sunday afternoon, followed by an awards ceremony and after party.
Zilg, a world top-10 racer who will also be competing in the paddlesurf competition, said conditions are looking good this year.
“I don’t want to jinx it, but the forecast looks favorable,” Zilg said on Tuesday. “There should be a little swell but nothing too big.”
With smaller waves predicted for this year’s competition than last year’s, Zilg said she expects to see more locals sign up in the amateur divisions because of the less intimidating conditions.
Some skilled international competitors are already signed up to compete and should make the event one to remember.
Coming in from Florida, California and Brazil, three time women’s APP world champion Izzi Gomez, ISA gold medalist Emmy Merrill, three time world longboard champion Colin McPhillips and APP world champion Caio Vaz are all registered.
The professional divisions are competing for $8,000 in prizes, with first place in the men’s and women’s A tier divisions winning $2,000 each.
In addition to the cash prizes, the surfers will be vying for the Newkirk Waterman Award that will be granted to the participant with the highest combined score in the pro and longboard divisions. Local North and South Carolina surfers will be competing for the Carolina BAMF Award as well.
The SUP Surf Pro-Am was started in 2015 as a fundraiser for the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.