Joe Surf: Senior surfers seeking bragging rights

No, there's no truth to the rumor that Kelly Slater will compete in this Saturday's Huntington Beach Senior Surf Invitational.

While Slater indeed is the old man of the ASP World Tour, he's still a young man by any other standard at age 39. The HB Senior Surf Invite is open to those ages 50 and up, so Slater will have to wait a few years.

The old guys will get out there on the south side of the HB Pier Saturday morning in what was previously called the Senior Olympics Surf Contest. The awards are trophies, not the $100,000 Slater brought home from winning the US Open a couple months ago.

But for 99.999% of the surfers out there, it's not about the money.

"A lot of it is bragging rights," said Chris Slama, the Huntington Beach city recreation supervisor who is running Saturday's contest. "There's a lot of camaraderie. They know each other going years back. Although it's fun, there are going to be guys going at it, going for the first-place trophies. But in the end, it's all good."

Trophies go to the top three place finishers in each division — 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74 and 75+ — and there will also be gift packages awarded that were donated by local businesses.

The city is putting on the event, taking it over from the Senior Olympics, which is based in Anaheim and had previously sanctioned the contest.

"They dropped out of the event, so we took it on," Slama said.

The primary sponsor is the Huntington Beach Council on Aging, and the others sponsors are Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Huntington Surf & Sport.

Last year's contest had 64 competitors. So far this year, Slama said there are 60 registered. He said there are a few slots still open, and he's is especially interested in adding more women to the contest.

There is one division for women: 50 and up.

Slama said the oldest competitor to register is an 86-year-old.

"It sets an example and inspiration to really everybody of what you can achieve," Slama said.

The waves Saturday should be pretty good, but as you can imagine, this is primarily a longboard group.

"That's mostly what we'll see," Slama said. "But I'm sure we'll see a few shortboarders. There'll be some shortboarders in the 50-54 division, and of course it depends on the waves, too."

Last year's winner of the 50-54 division, Mike Downey of Huntington Beach, is one of the judges this year. And though most of the competitors are H.B. locals, the contest is open to all-comers.

Last year's contest included surfers from Costa Mesa, Riverside, Buena Park, Cypress, Westminster, San Diego, Oceanside, Anaheim, Pacific Palisades and even one from Aurora, Colo., and another from Sydney, Australia.

Registration is through the Rodgers Senior Center. For questions or to register, call (714) 536-9387 or go to The cost is $30.


The second contest in the ASP World Junior Tour is underway now in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Newport Beach's Andrew Doheny is in the hunt for the World Junior title.

Doheny took second place in the first event, losing in the final heat to Davey Cathels a couple weeks ago in Bali.

The third and decisive contest will be held in January in Australia.


The U.S. surfing team won the 2011 ISA World Masters Surfing Championships last weekend in El Salvador. The Masters level is open to those ages 35 and over.

Tom Curren won the Kahuna division (age 45 and up) and U.S. teammate Jimmy Hogan, a San Clemente High grad, was the runner-up.

On the women's side, Alisa Cairns of Laguna Beach placed fourth.

The U.S. team, coached by Ian Cairns, took the top spot over teams from 20 other countries. Brazil, South Africa, Puerto Rico and Australia rounded out the top five.

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

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World