GLOUCESTER – For many of us, April isn’t exactly the ideal time of the year to be hitting the beach. Mother Nature is still undecided as most of this season comes with rain, melting snow and constant confusion on how to dress in the morning.
However, if you’re like those in the UMass Surf Club, that doesn’t really matter a whole lot.
On April 6, the club hosted its very first surf competition at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA.
Dubbed the Lake Atlantic Invitational, the UMass Surf Club invited 25 competitors for the inaugural event. The surfers came from various states like Maine and Rhode Island to participate in the competition.
“This event is extremely significant as it is not only our largest event to date, but also involved students and surfers from all throughout New England,” said Peter Roy, president of the club.
The competition concluded with three winners. Gloucester native Colby Kelly, 18, concluded the competition as the first place winner. In second place was Rhodes Cole from Rockport, MA, and rounding off in third was John Lane from Yarmouth, Maine.
Divided into four separate rounds, the preliminary round featured eight heats (a preliminary round) with between three and four people competing against each other. The best two from that group moved on to the next round.
The following round featured the same structure in terms of grouping with the top two competitors from each heat moving on to the semifinal.
The two semi-final rounds and final round operated much the same, with just four surfers competing for the top three spots in the final rounds of the competition.
“The waves may have been small that day,” said Roy. “But our spirits soared as everything went even better than expected.”
While the competition certainly caught every wave it was supposed to, Roy says that the club prepared extensively to ensure that the competition was the best it could be.
“We were basically starting from scratch,” said Roy. “ We had to find a coastal town that would allow us to host the competition, then work with that town to figure out what they would require from us.”
The process, unfortunately, was met with much choppier waters than Roy or the rest of the UMass Surf Club anticipated.
“We ended up wasting most of fall semester believing a certain town would allow us to host the competition,” said Roy. “We found out in December that they had voted against it.”
With the primary planned scrapped, Roy had to work fast in order to get the support the club desperately needed to host its competition.
“When we decided to host in Gloucester, I made two separate trips to the city to present our event to the council,” said Roy. “We ended up needing to get an EMS detail, port-a-potties, lifeguards and an emergency action plan.”
Once everything was in place, the town of Gloucester approved of the club’s competition. Thus, the scramble ensued.
“We conducted various forms of outreach, contacted sponsors and had custom trophies made for the first, second and third place winners,” said Roy. “We had to make a Minute Fund for the competition and managed to raise almost $1200 in one week.”
With the stage finally set, Roy and the rest of the UMass Surf Club hosted their successful competition with much more planned for the future.
“We plan on hosting our next competition next fall,” said Roy. “The conditions should be better, and I plan on working with the town to get a larger, more flexible window to host the event.”
The first competition’s success set UMass Surf Club on a bigger course for the next event with even bigger plans and ambitions.
“I think next time will be a lot bigger,” continued Roy. “I’d like to try to get food vendors at the event, and maybe even a band to come play at the beach once the competition is finished.”
With no immediate plans set in place, Roy encourages those interested to join the UMass Surf Club. On April 27, the club will host its final indoor surf trip of the year with much more planned for the following school year.
Roy hopes to have the next competition up-and-running in late September or October.
For more information on the UMass Surf Club, check out their Campus Pulse and Facebook pages:
Follow Trevor on Twitter @TrevorWilsonOG.