The 27th Annual WaveMasters Pro/Am is officially in the books, and to quote Endless Summer, “You should have been here yesterday.”
With all that WaveMasters Contest Director Mitch Kaufmann does for the Jacksonville surf community, The WM is his baby. And with more than 300 contestants and at least an equal number of family and friends on the beach in support, this year’s edition made Kaufmann one proud father.
“Aw man, it came out great,’ Kaufmann boasted. “The waves, the crowd, the surfing was unreal. The guys were killing it. It was just another lucky year.”
What began as a gathering of friends almost 30 years ago has turned into North Florida’s premier surfing event. With 27 years of good karma, Kaufmann and crew have not only managed to capture that Aloha spirit, but have fully embraced it, an in so doing, created an almost mystic family atmosphere, literally. And yesterday, that spirit totally engulfed the south side of the JB pier.
“Turning back the clock” for the Vintage Longboard heat Waldo
“It’s unbelievable,” says Kaufmann, “because we’ve got multiple generations, moms, dads, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters, all competing, with, and against each other. It’s just crazy, the way that everyone comes together and has such a good time. It’s just a great vibe.”
In a new addition to the event, local surfer and WaveMasters competitor Mike Ferrara offered up four vintage surfboards that currently hang in his restaurant, Cabo’s Island Pizza. In a special Vintage Longboard heat, four current longboarders tasted a feeling of what it’s like to ride the boards of yesteryear.
“These boards are our past,” said Ferrara. “It’s just a total stoke to watch this generation ride what we rode and experience our introduction to the sport 50 years ago.”
“They’re definitely heavier and more difficult to manage,” said local longboard virtuoso Justin Quintal, who not only won the Vintage heat but took the Pro Longboard division, as well. “But once they trim, they’re fast!”
Robert August on his 9’6″, you guessed it “Robert August” longboard Waldo
And speaking of Endless Summer, vintage and longboard virtuosos, in attendance this year was Endless Summer star Robert August. 65 years young, he looked like just another surfer on the beach until, of course, he caught his first wave. Style never goes away.
“It was fun,” said August. “It’s a great event. I really get a kick out of watching the kids. There are some great longboarders out there. They are way better than me.”
August competed in the Legends Longboard division but lost out to none other than Kaufmann, who also took home another trophy in the Grandmasters Shortboard division.
Said a beaming Kaufmann, “Yeah! That always puts you in a good mood!”
Yep. You should have been there yesterday.
Special thanks to Jedediah Waldo of Jedediah Photography for the photos. Check out more of his photography at imindstudios.com.