Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Contest Brings out Best in Wave Riders

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Contest Brings out Best in Wave Riders

Article excerpt

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- To average non-surfer observers, the waves probably appeared dismal for last weekend's 17th annual WaveMasters Surf Contest. Two- or three-footers. Minuscule. Lake break.

But the southerly swells were clean, consistent, powerful and gloriously rideable, surfers and organizers said.

"We could get the speed to do the maneuvers," said Mitch Kaufmann, a contest organizer who won the senior long board division. "Something out in the ocean gave us good enough waves."

Through raffles and other financial input, the contest also generated about $10,000, which will be split between contest costs and youth charities such as the Carver Center in South Jacksonville Beach, organizers said.

"It was one of our best contests ever," said Doug Griffin, president of the WaveMasters Society, which organizes the event. "The waves were small, but the best surfers will look good on anything."

About 300 surfers showed up for the event, Florida's largest open amateur surfing contest.

There were the familiar, classic faces like Yancey Spencer, Buddy Evans and Charley Hajek. There also were the young entrants like Jacksonville Beach's Rory Reep, who won the division called menehune (Hawaiian for "little people"), which featured 11 and 12-year-olds, and Cody Thompson, who won the micro mene for those age 10 and under.

The contest was a reminder that surfers are generally better than ever, said Kaufmann, 41, who's surfed all 17 WaveMasters. Surfboards are lighter and sleeker, and more people are surfing.

"With more people getting out there, there's a ripple effect," Kaufmann said. "If your friend's a ripper, chances are you will be too."

Kyle Jacobus of Ponte Vedra Beach, who won the junior men's division for 15-to-17-year olds, epitomizes the hot surfer of 2000, Kaufmann said.

"He was the most aggressive in his final by far," Kaufmann said. …

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