The '80s are back in the water

Music, hair and fashion weren't the only things treading new ground in the early 1980s.

On the sands of Newport Beach between 52nd and 56th streets, guys and girls in bright-colored wetsuits, head bands and new, sleek surfboards were making a splash in surfing.

They called the area Echo Beach. To the rest of the world, the surfing regulars there would be known for changing the sport and style that can come with it.

This weekend, young up-and-coming surfing prospects will team up with professionals in a team competition in Newport Beach. In the Quiksilver Echo Beach Challenge, the public can watch the legends partner with local talent.

In a separate event at the same place, the 22nd annual Quiksilver Newport Beach Surf Championships, sponsored by Jack's Surfboards, gives the public gets a chance at $5,000 in cash and prizes.

On Sept. 25 and 26, eight amateur surfers, or "groms," will be paired up with professionals, taking the sport back to the '80s. Competitors get to surf with their own boards, but for at least one round they have to compete like it's back in the day.

Surfers will don '80s fashion and use '80s boards, twin-fin boards that were heavier and didn't allow for the surf acrobatics you can see on big days in Southern California. The decade was notable in the evolution of surfing, organizers said.

Through time, surfboards have become lighter and fin design has changed. It's transformed the maneuvers that surfers can perform on a wave. Guys and girls have an easier time climbing the face of a wave into a spectacular air maneuver.

In the surf championships, surfers are divided into seven age divisions, ranging from 11-year-olds to the over-40 crowd, which will surely include some of the original Echo Beach crew.

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If You Go

What: Quiksilver Echo Beach Challenge and 22nd annual Quiksilver Newport Beach Surf Championships

Where: Newport Beach between 52nd and 56th streets

When: Saturday and Sunday

Cost: $30 to enter for residents and $35 for non-residents.

Information: or the Newport Beach Recreation and Senior Services Department at (949) 644-3151.

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