"Have fun, this a local's contest!"
This line reverberated over the loudspeaker just before the horn sounded to start the 3rd Annual SEV Chamber of Commerce Surf Contest in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Colorful sponsor tents — Bajio Sunglasses, Oceans of Hope, Advent Health and so many more — giving out free swag lined the compact sand.
Spectators and photographers were excitedly meeting and greeting.
Surfers, including Shea Lopez, Noah Schweizer, Gnarly Charley, Jonathan Wallhauser, and many more were high-fiving and waxing their boards while watching a rideable and glassy wave break in the contest area.
All present listened to contest organizers discuss the ethos of the event — a homegrown local's contest for the surfers and community of New Smyrna Beach — and the event's unique format.
In the relay-style format, each heat lasted an hour. The first team member was allowed to catch a maximum of three waves and were scored on their best wave.
If the surfer experienced a lull in the swell and needed to save time, they could claim one of their waves to be scored.
Each surfer’s best waves were then tallied and added to the team's overall score.
It's a format that breaks up the monotony of the typical surf contest and emphasizes team effort — and a format that the surfers present enjoyed.
“This style promotes fun, relaxed surfing," said Jonathan Wallhauser, Quiet Flight Surf Shop Team member and 2023 NSSA Men’s Longboard champion. "When you can ride any size surfboard, it helps add to the creativity — and overall fun factor."
The overall fun factor — that was the best aspect of the event. Whereas some surf events are full of three to the beach, waiting for scores to drop, and pressure, pressure, pressure — the SEV Chamber of Commerce Surf Contest was a breath of fresh air.
Fun, family-friendly, and positive all around — even with small waves on hand.
Yes, the waves were small, but surfable nonetheless — the running joke on the beach was that the entire state of Florida was flat, yet there was luckily a contestable wave coming through at New Smyrna.
Even in such small conditions, the surfers on hand gave it their best, wielding their small wave repertoire on bigger boards and hunting for open faces.
The action-packed Final featured Quiet Flight Surf Shop, Go Juice, Orange Theory and Kevin Schweitzer Architect.
Kevin Schweitzer Architect took home the trophy with an overall score of 22.70, beating two-time champions Go Juice, who came in second (21.62). Quiet Flight finished third (9.83), and Orange Theory rounded out the heat (5.74).
Champs crowned. Photo: SEV Chamber of Commerce
Event Director Stephanie Ford, who serves as the Executive Director of Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce was thrilled to see the palpable excitement surrounding the contest — and explained why it's the ultimate local's contest.
“It's the most unique event of the year because it’s a surf contest for the business community," she said, her eyes scanning back and forth from the surfing action to the sponsor tents. "We promote local businesses and economical development because that’s a big part of what the SEV Chamber of Commerce does and advocates for. It brings the whole community out.”
Stephanie communicated that the event wouldn't have been possible without its generous sponsors, who included the following:
Both surfers and sponsors, along with Stephanie herself, are already looking forward to next year's SEV Chamber of Commerce Surf Contest — the ultimate local's contest.