Jim Fishman was standing on the beach with his two, preteen sons Harrison and Isaac and saying to anyone who would listen, “We don’t have anything like this in Venice. The competition here is better than on the scholastic tour.”
The Venice resident’s sons were among the 50-plus, 12 and under groms competing in the ET Surf/South Bay Boardriders contest Saturday at 26th Street in Manhattan Beach.
Paul Thompson, brother of former world champion Shaun Thompson, expressed a similar sentiment. Thompson had brought to the contest a West Los Angeles grom he is coaching.
It helped that Saturday’s surf was a solid two- to four-feet, with occasional overhead sets, the wind was offshore all day and the air was a sunny 70 degrees.
Still, the contest’s success wasn’t entirely a gift of nature.
Former Pier Avenue Junior High and Mira Costa schoolmates Mike Balzer, Dan Bradford, Tom Horton and Derek Levy were reminiscing during a lunch at El Gringo about the long gone surf clubs that had helped them develop as surfers. Following the 2009 lunch they decided to form the South Bay Boardriders Club.
Six contests, spread over six months have been held each winter since. And each winter the number of groms and the level of competition has ratcheted up.
At Saturday’s contest, groms who were being pushed into waves by their dads last winter, were paddling into waves on their own this winter, and smacking the lip. Proof of the club’s success can be seen in the accompanying photos by grom Myles Gaffney’s dad Steve (SteveGaffney.com).