WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH – One of the top, all-girls surfing competition returns to Wrightsville Beach this weekend for the annual Wahine Classic, set for Aug. 19 to 21. Participants ranging in age from toddlers to over 65 years old will ride the clear, bimini-blue waves for which this southeastern Atlantic surfing hotspot is known.
“Girls from Virginia to Florida make their way here to compete as one of only a handful of women’s surfing events on the East Coast,” said Jo Pickett, female surfing legend and tournament organizer. “They love this competition because they get to know each other and learn from each other in a supportive environment.”
On Friday, attendees under 18 can participate in clinics to learn about contest strategy and wave selection ahead of competition.
“These surfers are young, might just be getting started, and need some pointers,” Pickett said.
Surfers may compete in a variety of divisions as the professional short board and longboard divisions will each offer a $1,000 purse split between the top four finishers for each board class.
Amateur longboard and short board divisions are divided into age groups specified by Surfing America, the official International Surfing Association (ICA)-recognized National Governing Body for the sport of surfing in the United States. Judges certified by the ICA will score the event.
The standup paddleboard surfing division is open to Wahines of all ages. Winners will receive prizes contributed by local, national, and international businesses. The Teeny Wahine Division, open to surfers ages 10 and under, is the highlight of the weekend for spectators.
“We run it like a real division and put a jersey on each competitor,” Pickett said. “A parent or adult assists each child. Every competitor in the division gets an award and T-shirt.”
Wahine surfing events in Wrightsville Beach started in 1997 and continued through 2011. After a one-year hiatus, the ladies-only surfing competition returned due to widespread demand and support from surfing enthusiasts and the community.
“It’s encouraging to see an increase in girl’s and women’s participation in surfing, standup paddleboard, and other watersports,” said Mary Baggett, Wrightsville resident, and co-owner of Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
Wrightsville Beach Public Accesses 37 and 38 are the best places for spectators to set up camp and browse vendor tents. Pickett expects around 100 competitors.