BELMAR, NJ — The New Jersey State Surfing Championships is making a comeback, returning to Belmar on May 6 and 7 for the first time in 25 years.
Open to both professional and amateur surfers in New Jersey — adults, children and teen-agers alike — the event’s registration deadline is Wednesday, May 3 at 5 p.m.
“The forecast for waves is getting better and better,” said Don Tarrant, event organizer and owner of Eastern Lines surf shop on Ocean Avenue in Belmar. “When everyone starts hearing there’s going to be surf, they go crazy and start signing up.”
The competition will be divided among age groups and by gender, utilizing a double elimination format — meaning surfers must be defeated twice to be dropped from the contest.
“We’re hoping to bring a really fun, exciting competition that will showcase the best talent in our state and once again crown true state champions in each age group, as well as a pro champion,” Tarrant said.
He expects nearly 17 hours of competitive surfing over the two-day event, which will be held on the 16th Avenue beach. Some 20 vendors will be situated on the sand and boardwalk, including its major local sponsor Playa Bowls, as well as a variety of other eateries, clothing makers and artists.
Surfing has been an integral part of the Jersey Shore for decades, with championships taking root in the 1960s, only to grow to encompassing the entire East Coast. Tarrant became part of scene in the mid-1980s when he and colleague Gary Clayton were instrumental in leading a new Central New Jersey District of the Eastern Surfing Association.
At that time, they resurrected the New Jersey championships, which crowned a winner in every age group. After three successful years, the event was discontinued due to the demands of the district, securing sponsors and personal commitments, said Tarrant, who also is an organizer of the annual Belmar Pro Invitational, held in September.
Last year, talks of another revival of the state championships surfaced. “With the help of some sponsors, we have the funding to move forward this year,” Tarrant said. “So I’m taking the plunge again.”
Online registration, which is due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3, can be made at http://njsurfchamps.com/registration/.