Organizer Andy McKay says he has heard nothing but good things following the last wave of the first-ever Pismo Beach Open surf contest.
“I feel like it couldn’t have gone any better,” said McKay, a Pismo Beach resident. “I wish the waves were there. But other than the (small) waves, it was pretty much epic. It went better than I could have imagined, so I am pretty stoked.”
And the World Surf League Qualifying Series 1,000 event that drew hundreds of spectators over the weekend to the Pismo Beach pier — and around 40,000 viewers to the live webcast, according to McKay — is the first of what he hopes could be a boom of surf contests returning to the Central Coast.
McKay said he’s optimistic the positive feedback from sponsors, the community and WSL will keep the momentum going with three more WSL QS events on the Central Coast in 2018 under his newly formed nonprofit, Surfers of Tomorrow.
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The first new contest is already tentatively planned for March 2018 in Morro Bay, dependent on McKay’s ability to drum up sponsorship money to make the March 1-4 event a reality. He’s also looking to host an event in Ventura at Surfers’ Point on April 5-8 and two more end-of-season contests — a return of the Pismo Beach Open in October and resurrection of the O’Neill Coldwater Classic at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz.
Each event would feature a men’s and women’s division and live webcast.
With Ventura’s Cory Arrambide winning in Pismo, McKay said one of his goals — providing a chance for California surfers to compete in WSL events without having to travel around the world — was accomplished. Orcutt native and Santa Barbara resident Kilian Garland also finished in the money at Pismo, advancing to the semifinals.
“You can do other things other than just surf in events,” Garland said last week of the prospect of more Califorina events. “You can hold down a job or go to school, work with a company and do a surf trip and film and still be able to do events. I think it will raise the level of the surfers in California.”
Now McKay, the former owner of Surfside Donuts in Pismo Beach, has gone all in with his new venture and is thinking beyond just helping California surfers.
McKay hopes Surfers of Tomorrow, a 501(c)3 organization, he said, is able to take advantage of local surf competitions to raise more money. In addition to helping surfers, McKay also hopes to work with environmental groups at each tour stop. For the Pismo Beach Open, he partnered with Sustainable Surf, a group that certifies surf events as “ocean friendly” and measures environmental impacts. That certification is pending.
“We want to help expose ocean-minded groups that are doing good things for the environment or surfing or beaches,” said McKay, who also hopes to create scholarships for surfers who want to remain in school while competing in events. “We want to do a lot of good along the way.”
He’s already in talks with the city to bring the Pismo Beach Open back next October, and hopes to take what he learned this year to make the next event even better.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but now I do,” McKay said. “Getting that first event under my belt was huge, and I am ready for more. I really loved it.”
For more information on these events contact Andy McKay at Andy@surfersoftomorrow.org