One You Won’t Read and Finally…
In the next couple of days there will be all kinds of coverage on the Reef/Sweetwater Pro-Am Surf Fest. There will be photos galore of solid surfers making sloppy conditions look excellent. Despite what you may have already read, the surf wasn’t worth its hype. But hey, you have the media machine ready to sell you the sport and what would it be if they were honest? Who comes to watch a contest held in knee to waist-high (being generous here) small period swell? Mothers and fathers of the groms entered,that’s who. Perhaps a few masters candidates hanging out in the shadows hoping that some wave which they haven’t seen since March may suddenly show up for their afternoon heat. Beyond that, no one. Admit it. When you have been at contests with such conditions, who did you see? Exactly. However, the Reef Pro-Am comes on the tails of the long running Record Bar Pro-Am and is now one of the few well-attended and high paying pro surfing events on the east coast. The event promoters have worked very hard to make it that way. Having the support of a local ASP pro may have started the credibility, but now it functions on its own as evidenced by web, print, and beach coverage. In Malibu’s Surf Shop along the boardwalk of Ocean City Maryland “the notes” found a flyer advertising the event. Maryland. What may have started as a self-promotion is now an honest event. Solid competition despite the mid-July doldrums or maybe due to them saw a pay out list of plenty of recognizable names, some local, some coastal, and some global. Check the results here. When you have Ben Bourgeois and Heath Walker finishing second and third to a local, that’s some good competition. Mike Losness was fighting for a $175 pay for goodness sakes. Barely enough to cover a down payment for any self-respecting Aussie’s bar tab. But you can read all about the names and faces that make such an event happen. You’ll have the photos and the onslaught of media promotion and merchandise. You’ll have the “behind-the-scenes” from guys that know all the hand shakes and wear the contemporary clothes. What you won’t read or see in any of those articles is the name Danny Wrenn. Why? Who the hell is Danny Wrenn you ask? No one. He’s me. He’s you. He is the story and the reason for the east coast surf contest in July.
A local charter captain, Danny Wrenn, entered the Reef/Sweetwater Pro-Am on a whim. It was his first contest ever. Not a bad time to pony up and give it a go. Pretty gutsy. Couple hundred people on the beach, pros from all over the world, all your family and friends watching. Simply trying not to trip over your own leash would generate enough lactic acid to taste. Now, add to the fact that you are older than the top ranked contestant in your heat by almost thirty years. No worries. For two heats Danny Wrenn hung in there with some of the best longboarders along the east coast. For thirty minutes he caught as many waves as he could and enjoyed every one of them, even the one with the stink eye of the 13-year-old trying to psyche him out. The grin on his face two days later told the story. The thrill of the crowd, the risk of personal persona, the athleticism, and the rush when the horn blows, just the uncertainty of it all funneling into a half hour of all out activity. While Captain Wrenn made just two heats, it was two heats on one of the biggest stages available on the east coast in his own back yard with everyone watching. That is the east coast surf contest. It may not have the visual thrill of Pipe, the perfection of J-Bay, or the consistency of Trestles but it has every bit of the adventure. For two heats it gave the guy in the line-up next to you a chance to feel the adrenaline and experience the rush. To all those that ponied up, well done.
And finally, it has been business as usual at the North End. “The Mayor” of the North End has had the flags up and the rest of the extended family has been out enjoying our little home away from home. There has even been a little bit of surf to celebrate. Very little, but in July here in southeastern NC it’ll do. There may even be a little more on the way. One can only hope. Here’s to it.