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Preserving ‘The Vic’

For many locals, summer in Laguna Beach without “The Vic” wouldn’t be the same.

Victoria Skimboards general manager Trigg Garner, who grew up in Laguna, certainly feels that way, and not just because the company sponsors the annual World Championship of Skimboarding at Aliso Beach.

After 33 years of competition, it’s a staple of the city, but Garner felt it was threatened this summer. During setup for the second day of the contest, a park ranger came to the event and said Victoria Skimboards might have to move the event out of the summer months due to too much traffic at Aliso.

“One of the park rangers came up to us and said that parking was such an issue, and that it was our fault,” Garner said. “Because of that, it seemed like we were going to have to move the event to before the summer months, or after the summer months. That was a huge, huge blow and was kind of really the last straw for us. We put together a petition online and we’ve gone around to local businesses, got a lot of them to sign on a petition saying the benefit of the event, what it does for community and for business. We were going to go to the county officials.”

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No citations were issued, but the message seemed clear. The online petition got more than 500 signatures, but as it turned out, it didn’t have to come to that.

Last week, Garner and Victoria Skimboards owner Tex Haines met with OC Parks coastal district supervisor Leslie Ray and communications manager Tom Starnes. Ray had heard of the organizers’ concerns.

“We were real disappointed to hear that they had any concerns,” Ray said. “I think we were definitely able to share enthusiasm for [the event], and it’s genuine. It was a very positive meeting We’re looking at how we can kind of be a sponsor of their event, being that its on a county beach and a county facility.”

The World Championship of Skimboarding does bring a large crowd to Aliso Beach on a prime summer weekend. Ray said that since Aliso is a regional facility as opposed to a strictly local beach, out-of-towners do tend to come to the beach. A possible solution that was discussed to alleviate some of the traffic problems was to better advertise “The Vic” on both the Victoria Skimboards and OC Parks web sites, Garner said.

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He said he is working on building a list of things the tournament organizers want, giving the example of a band or live music. He understands selling isn’t allowed at the beach, but he said in the past the county also wanted to charge up to $1,000 for sponsors to be able to even showcase their products at the event.

At that time, Garner said he questioned how he would even be able to grow the still relatively small sport of skimboarding with restrictions like those.

“I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be a problem in the future,” Garner said. “Now it’s a much more open working relationship, whereas we kind of felt like doors were getting shut in our face before. Now, it seems like they’re open and a seat’s there to sit down and talk. Who knows what will happen from there? We might not get everything we want, but I’m happy to talk and happy to help.”

Moving the World Championship out of the summer months would make things tough for some international and school-age competitors. In addition, holding the event in late June or early July works best as it takes advantage of the early-summer northwest wind swell.

The dates of next year’s competition have already been set for June 19-20.

“It’s definitely a worldwide event,” Ray said. “We’re excited to have it at an OC Parks facility. That’s good for us.”

OC Parks recently created the communications manager spot, Ray said, and hopes to work more closely with other events as well.

“We have surf events at some of our beaches, too,” she said. “We’d like to be working together, instead of just issuing a permit.”

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