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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 6:57 pm | Fair 56º

 
 
 
 

Lakey Peterson Leads Wave of Young Surfers at Annual Keiki Bowl Competition

More than 200 kids 14 and under take to surf off Leadbetter Beach for day of adventure, instruction, and ocean and beach stewardship

The annual Lakey Peterson Keiki Bowl featured 205 surfers ages 14 and younger surfing Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
The annual Lakey Peterson Keiki Bowl featured 205 surfers ages 14 and younger surfing Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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Equipped with a red shortboard surfboard, a wetsuit and sunscreen, Vela Mattive was prepared to catch waves at the third annual Lakey Peterson Keiki Bowl on Saturday in Santa Barbara.

The 9-year-old Santa Barbara surfer braved the cold waters off the west end of Leadbetter Beach, and the Washington School student said she was looking forward to paddling out, surfing and testing her skills after “a couple of years” of practice.

She embarked with 205 surfers ages 14 and younger.

Participants were separated by age and surfing heats throughout the day.

Each child at the low-pressure surf contest series had the opportunity to surf multiple rounds and walk away with a trophy.

“It’s great to have a surfing event at our local beach,” said Nilus Mattive, Vela’s father. “It’s helping teach the kids the rules of competition and educating them about the ocean.”

Lakey Peterson, a 22-year-old Santa Barbara native on the professional women’s surfing tour, led a beach cleanup to encourage surfers and others to pick up five pieces of trash each time they visit the beach.

Peterson also assisted 40 surfers ages 8 and younger with an extra nudge while catching waves during the “Push In Party” division.

A handful of bystanders and family members lined the beach and bluffs, cheering on the young surfers.

Community members shouted encouraging tips to the youngsters as they headed toward the water.

Hosted by the Surf Happens Foundation, the free event was designed to create a fun and healthy activity that gets kids outdoors, sharing their passion for the ocean together and learning about keeping the beach clean, executive director Jenny Keet said.

“There are no other local surf competitors in place,” she told Noozhawk. “We feel it’s important for local kids to have their own event where they can check out the world of competitive surfing in a fun environment.”

Keet said the event has seen a spike in attendance from previous years, and this year featured more girls participating.

The contest was also a fundraiser for the foundation’s Girls Inc. Surf Club, and Keet said the goal was to raise $10,000 to fund 12 girls year-round in an after-school surf club.

“Most of these girls come from low-income families that would not otherwise have this opportunity,” she said. “When kids feel part of a community they make healthy life choices.”

The event was also sponsored by Channel Islands Surfboards, Hurley and Surf Happens Surf School, along with contributing sponsors GoPro, Clif Bar, Scosche Audio and Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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