Surfside surf contest draws crowds and perspective

On Saturday, Surfside Beach came alive with the surfing vibe for the Eastern Surfing Association surf contest.

The big waves became the big talk of the day for event organizers, because they say an influx of people signed up for the contest at the last minute after hearing about the surf.

"We had a little bit of a swell come in over the night, so it kind of filled in great. But usually waves are small for contests, but this is probably one of the better contest days of the year," said Jacob Simmons, owner of Eternal Waves, a surf shop that sponsored the event.

Several competitors were also pleased by the waves, because it made this year's competition more interesting and fun.

Among the dozens of competitors, from all walks of life, Bree Labiak was one of the younger surfers.

At the age of 9, Labiak was the only female in her competitive heat, which is a sight that's become more uncommon in the surfing world these days, because more women are competing in our area than ever before.

"We do notice there are more girls competing, which is exciting because its always been such a boys and men's sport," said Cate Sutz, owner of Island Inspired, who works to empower females in the water with her company's 'Girls Only Surf Club.'

Sutz told WPDE NewsChannel 15 that her group tries to encourage and teach young women in ways that allows them to build up their self-confidence.

Although many spectators and competitors at the competition have seen the ways the sport has changed over the years, one surfing veteran has noticed one thing stay the same since he took up the sport in 1966.

"One Constant has always been is that surfing is seen as kind of a cool sport. You know, a sport of people that are kind of, you know, one with nature outside a bit and healthy lifestyle," said Wilton Jordan.

The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) is organized at the grass roots level. Those who are top-finishers in the ESA will go onto regional surfing competitions.