Joe Surf: A surf contest for the family

Any day now, Kelly Slater most likely will clinch an unprecedented and almost unfathomable 11th Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Title. But as we all know, Slater is one in a million.

For the other 999,999 and then some, there are events like Saturday's Family Surf Fest at Ninth Street in Huntington Beach. It's more than a contest; it's a day at the beach.

That's right. In November.

"There are a handful of kids and surfers who want to be the next Kelly Slater," said Chris Williams, the contest coordinator for the Christian Surfing Federation, which is putting on the event. "But there are about a zillion folks — kids, teens, parents — who enjoy having a fun surf day on a softboard while having a good time with family and friends."

The Family Surf Fest is loaded with divisions for all levels and ages, starting at the top with a pro-am division, all the way down to an open softboard division for those of any age, including kids who can be pushed into a wave by their mom or dad or one of the several volunteers that will be on hand, most notably the Christian Surfers Huntington Beach.

"Probably the thing that is most different is that we have an actual softboard division," said Williams, who also owns and operates Soul Surfing School in Laguna Beach with his wife, Karen. "You see what we do with our surf camps; we train and surf with legions of kids. So many kids get on a softboard and have some fun.

"What we figured was we could make this family-friendly, with music and food and dodgeball. We'll have fun prizes for things like longest ride and best wipeout."

It's not a surfing contest where all the focus is on the water. On the sand, there will be activities like a wetsuit slip-and-slide contest, a pie-eating contest and a family-style barbecue.

Registration cost varies depending on which division one enters, but all the entry fees are less than $30.

Though it is billed as a casual day at the beach, there will be competitive divisions, like the pro-am division and men's and women's open shortboard and longboard divisions. There are also divisions based on age.

About the only thing that might seem to make the event a bit curious is the date — Nov. 5. Summer is long gone.

"The water temps are not that much different than summer," Williams said. "Basically, it's in the low 60s, and in the summer it's typically in the low- to mid-60s, very manageable with a full suit.

"It might not be 80 degrees on Saturday (forecast is for sunny skies in the 60s) but I think we've matured to the point where it doesn't have to be 80 degrees. We're trying to bridge the gap between August and next June. People say, 'I have all this equipment; here's an opportunity to get back out there.'"

To register for the event, go to http://www.active.com/framed/event_detail.cfm?CHECKSSO=0&EVENT_ID=1993293. Online registration is due at 5 p.m. Friday, but if you show up Saturday morning, you can register on-site contingent on availability of spots in the respective divisions.

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The city of Huntington Beach and the Huntington Beach Council on Aging staged the HB Senior Surf Invitational on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier last Saturday. Following are the winners in their respective divisions:

Michael Klein, Riverside (50-54), John Wilson, Westminster (55-59); Steve Berger, Huntington Beach (60-64); Lloyd Van Vorce, Cypress (65-69); George Carr, Pacific Palisades (75+); and Becky Ettinger, Huntington Beach (women, all ages).

For photos and information on next year's event, go to hbcoa.org.

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Newport Beach's Andrew Doheny put himself in great position to win an ASP Junior Men's World Title with a second-place finish at the first of the three Junior World Championship events in Bali, Indonesia.

But in the second event, currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Doheny was eliminated in his first-round heat. Both Tanner Hendrickson of Hawaii (11.34) and Michael Rodrigues of Brazil (10.64) out-pointed Doheny (9.30).

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As mentioned previously, Slater is on the verge on clinching the ASP World Championship for the 11th time. The ASP World Tour is putting on its 10th contest of the 11 in the series at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Slater needs to finish ninth or better to clinch the world title, meaning he has to win his first two heats.

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at joe@juvecreative.com.

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