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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 10:19 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 
Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Surfers Share the Stoke in Groundswell Society’s Rincon Spectacle

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Inaugural competition emphasizes the thrill of the waves — even though the action was flat.

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Surfers of all ages and from as far away as San Diego and Santa Cruz converged on the cobblestones of Rincon Point this weekend for the inaugural "Sharing the Stoke" Invitation Team Surfing Contest.

The brainchild of Glenn Henning, founder of the Surfrider Foundation, and former world champion surfer Shaun Tomson, the event was organized by the nonprofit The Groundswell Society with the assistance of the Rincon Pit Crew.

"Back in the ‘90s, we focused on the environment and cleaning up the water with the Cleanwater Classic," Henning said.

It appears there has been a major shift in concerns; the intent now is to focus on the social climate between surfers, and to improve the entire psychosocial experience of the sport that so many now share and love.

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The novel format of "Sharing the Stoke" was quite like no other. Rather than surfers competing against each other for the best waves and highest scores, surfers were awarded points for actually sharing waves, all in an effort to reinforce the idea that even in the most crowded conditions, everyone can have fun.

The contest began early Saturday with a ritual blessing performed by Chumash ceremonial leader and Dolphin Dancer Mati "Little Hawk" Waiya from Ventura.

Among the groups participating were Boarding House Mentors, Doheny Longboard Surfing Association, Mary Setterholm/L.A. Surf Bus, Pacific Beach Surf Club, Richard Schmidt Surf School, San Diego Surf Ladies, Santa Barbara Seals Surf School, Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association, Surfclass (Ventura), Surf Diva (La Jolla), Surfers Healing, Surf Happens Surf School, Turf 2 Surf Youth Program and WiLDCOAST/CostaSalvaje.

Unlike other surf contests, no specific competition areas were demarcated or enforced. Noncontestants were free to join in and freely surf among the contestants.

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Henning said he chose Rincon as the location for the first event of many to follow for several reasons, mostly because it is such an incredible natural arena for the sport and because it would offer minimal environmental impact.

Judging by the smiles on all of the contestants’ faces, the event was a smashing success — despite the lack of cooperation from the weather. But small waves and gale-force winds did little to dampen spirits. The lesson learned and the message to be spread is that even as the population of surfers continues to explode in the face of limited and finite resources, it is possible to have fun — provided surfers share the stoke.

Jon Shafer runs www.rinconsurfblog.com.

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