Landlubbers take note: If you want to get a good read on just how intricately — and profoundly — the art of wave riding is woven into the fabric of Santa Barbara, your best chance is just around the corner.
The Classic will get underway bright and early Saturday morning at the end of Bates Road at the storybook right-hand point break that straddles the border of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. On hand will be 260 surfers — spanning 11 divisions and coming in all shapes, sizes, and ages — to battle it out in the most prestigious “local” surf contest in the Lower 48.
“Every year, I am reminded of how it truly takes a community to run this event,” mused Contest Director Chris Keet last week. “And, well, that’s what this is all about. It’s a contest and a coming together for the people that are here every swell of every year, the people who call this place home.”
The Santa Barbara area just happens to have a remarkably high concentration of red-hot, style-conscious surfers, a fact that becomes even more impressive when you consider how rarely our sleepy section of shoreline actually sees rollers that are rideable. People like Dane Reynolds (from Ventura but now calling Carpinteria home), Shaun Tomson, Tom Curren, Bobby Martinez, the Coffin brothers, Davey Smith, Andy Neumann, and Lakey Peterson were all grizzled Classic competitors long before they were household names in the international surf community.
Add to that roster less exposed expert surf sliders like Danny Bralver, Killian Garland, Dennis Rizzo, Demi Boelsterli, Tyler Anderson, and Matt McCabe, and you have a field of competitors that isn’t just made up of people you randomly — and regularly — run into at the grocery stores but one that is capable of putting on a display of high-performance surfing at its finest. Keeping in mind that all these cats and kitties are going to be strutting their stuff on the long walls of one of the world’s best point breaks, and you have an essentially foolproof formula for pure spectator entertainment.
Plot lines to follow are Boelsterli’s quest to become the winningest surfer in Classic history; the 21-year-old’s seven consecutive Women’s Open titles have her one more win away from the record books for most wins in the same division by man or woman. This year’s Expression Session, which typically happens on Sunday afternoon, features a free-for-all jam by the best surfers in the 805 with a few top-secret, high-profile surprise shredders rumored to be entering the fray this year. As usual, the Longboard Open promises to be a stylistic showdown between competitors who often are 20 to 30 years apart in age. Finally, announcer Chris Brown, one of S.B.’s most celebrated surfers and former professional standout, brings pure magic to the microphone as he calls the action live from the beach.
For more info on the Rincon Classic and for updates, go to rinconclassic.com.