Ben Bourgeois, Shea Lopez and Dean Randazzo didn’t just wake up one day on top of the surfing world. No way! It was a long road between gromhood and the Dream Tour.
There were years and years of amateur events leading up to their pro careers (and in Randazzo’s case, a lot of riding his bike to surf in a beavertail in April.) New Jersey is home to dozens of amateur surf events ever year.
In 2010, MC and entrenched event director, Scott Goodwin, decided to give some of the younger and more local guys and girls a chance to shred without all the pressure of the event.
The result was the first Belmar Amateur Weekend, which was held the weekend before the big show. Goodwin’s rolling out the big Am Weekend again this year, Septmeber 10-11.This will give younger surfers a nice warm up at the same break, with the same scaffolding, and same feel as the Pro without having to draw Kyle Garson or Jamie DeWitt. The Am event will offer six divisions – Mens, Boys, Juniors (under18), Longboard, Girls, and Bodyboard.
Last year saw a host of rippers from Hawaii and California who were in town early, looking for hurricane swell. Young Kalani David won the boys over Nic Hernandez. But Stone Harbor’s own Mikey Ciaramella beat him out in the Juniors. Monmouth County surfer, PJ Raia took third.
Hawaiian Nathan Carvalho won the Mens. The Girls title went to super-talented local female, Kim Kepich, who won a close one over Caroline Duerr. Corey Kisiel edged out JJ Egan in the Longboard and not to be left out, Rob Mack won the Bodyboard.
And don’t think because it’s an amateur event there aint some money being thrown around. The Boys, Jr. Men, and Mens division offer $200 for first place. That can do some damage over at T.R.’s Food Court. Second, third, and fourth place will get you $75, $50, and $30 respectively. Even the Longboard, Women, and Bodyboard Division have $100 on the line for first place!
The Longboard Pro has never been simply a sideshow in Belmar. With it’s celebrated history on logs, the folks of Belmar have a wholesome respect for the cross-step. And this year, it will even be more exciting, as Monster Energy has signed on to sponsor the 2011 Longboard Pro. “Last year, the waves were so big and people were going nuts on the beach,” says Belmar’s own Brian Dalton, who took second place in front of his hometown crowd, “I think people really liked seeing us out there in challenging conditions.”
This year, the Monster Energry Longboard Pro boasts a $3,000 purse with $1,500 going to first place. That kind of cash is sure to attract even more longboard talent or even sway a few pro shortboard shredders. “That will make it tougher for the locals,” says Dalton, “but a little Belmar knowledge will help.” Dalton is prepared to surf against Tony Silvagni ultimately defended his title in 2010 and should be back to electrify the beach again this September.
Silvagni won the Longboard division at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games earlier this summer to become a legit East Coast superstar. The Monster Energy Longboard Pro will go down in conjunction with the rest of the Belmar Pro, September 15-18.