Surfers who take themselves too seriously should not enter the Fall Foamy Classic south of Surf City Ocean Pier.
Even that rule is up for debate for the inaugural event scheduled 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 15 by Surf City Christian Surfers, members of which often frequent the pier’s south side.
That’s the idea: to break emerging traditions and restore the very reasons most people started surfing.
“Whoever has the most fun is the winner. It’s not about who the best surfer is. We’ve just kind of adjusted the rules (of other contest formats),” Christian Surfers-Surf City Co-director Gary Cavenaugh said.
In a normal contest, a group takes to the water in a heat. In early rounds, high scorers advance based on judging per wave.
Donnie Marshburn, also a member of Christian Surfers, said the event even praises the worst fall with the Best Wipeout award.
“The rules are not like a conventional contest,” Marshburn said. “They encourage multiple people on a wave.”
The Fall Foamy Classic will reward such group efforts for participants laughing the hardest.
“They can have two to three people on one wave, two people on one board if they like,” Cavenaugh said. “Whatever they want to do to get back to what surfing is all about: having fun, spending time with friends and family.”
Surfers are different than most people. That’s why it’s important to have a different type of contest, he said: to showcase, too, that all surfers aren’t bums and partiers.
“It puts surfing in a bad light. People don’t understand it. Just come out with us when there are waves,” Cavenaugh said. “We’re the only people watching the Weather Channel waiting for bad weather.”
The contest will start with a paddleout — the group will gather in a circle outside the lineup of waves. That practice, too often, is a posthumous farewell.
“We’re going to have a paddleout that morning to celebrate another summer’s gone by. We’ve had so many paddleouts after a surfer’s passing,” Cavenaugh said.
He added that Christian Surfers’ local chapter also wants to be a resource for surfers on hard times and otherwise.
“It’s just to let people know we’re here,” Cavenaugh said. “Too many people don’t know where to turn when they get into trouble. You’re not going to get (many) surfers to go to church. We call it a family, our surf community.”
The Fall Foamy Classic also has distinct board requirements: Participants can bring theirs, but boards also will be provided by Surf City Surf School.
“I did competitions for a while. I saw where they were taking surfing the same way that soccer and little league baseball did,” Cavenaugh said. “I got the idea from two or three different places.”
The event will benefit Share the Table Food Pantry and Community Meal, a “food ministry with a free community meal, food pantry and school backpack program,” according to SharetheTableNC.com.
Cavenaugh said he went to observe the organization’s practices and was impressed by the masses served.
“They’re feeding 1,200 people out of that little place (in Hampstead),” he said. “We got together to see what we could do to raise money.”
GUIDELINES, NOT RULES
There will be three soft-top divisions:
• Beater Board: Usually a small board, but the rules may be meant to be broken, or beaten, Cavenaugh said.
• Longboard: Usually longboards are at least 9 feet. Maybe that standard can be challenged.
• Paddleboard: Any object that can be stood on and paddled is fair game.
Early registration is $20 per division or $30 for all three.
Registration at the event will be $25 per division or $35 for all three.
A slew of awards will honor:
• Best wipeout
• Best tandem
• Best trick
• Best overall
• Best dressed
Registration forms are available on Fall Foamy Classic’s Facebook page. Contestants can drop off registration and entry dues at OnShore Surf Shop, 50 South Surf Shop and North Topsail Surf & Paddle.
All ages are invited to participate in the three open divisions.
For seasoned surfers, Cavenaugh hopes the event will be a break from industry norms.
“We’re trying to break the monotony of the real world, to see that there’s something else out there than ‘It’s just all about me, all about work, all about surf,’” he said.
Sponsors include Herrings Outdoor Sports, Hwy 55, The Gathering in Surf City, among others. Sponsorships are still available.
For more information, visit Facebook.com/SurfCityChristianSurfers.