California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Surfrider Foundation Promotes National Surf Day

Two surf competitors hit the waves as they commemorate the annual event and the “Rise Above Plastics” campaign.

In celebration of International Surfing Day, the San Mateo County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation hosted a surf competition in Pacifica on June 20 to bring attention to environmental issues affecting coastlines, as well as showcase what surfers simply do best, rip waves and shred swells.

The 7th annual International Surfing Day was founded so that surfers and surf enthusiasts from all over the world could have a day to celebrate surfing and the oceans upon which we all depend on, according to the Surfrider Foundation.

Founded in Malibu, California in 1984, the Surfrider Foundation maintains over 50,000 members and 90 chapters worldwide, according to their website.

While several chapters across the United States celebrated the event with beach cleanups, educational forums and other community engagement activities, the non-profit San Mateo Chapter—under project manager Dylan Christensen—chose to hold a competition to celebrate the sport of surfing.

Held at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica amongst over a hundred beach dwellers, the event was a one hour competition where four teams competed in a tag-team race.

As the event continued on, it appeared the surfers were more interested in the joy of simply being on the water than necessarily competing, as Mother Nature seemed to have provided the perfect waves to honor the national day of surfing.

Starting as a small group of about four surfers, the event quickly attracted new competitors. Soon growing into a large group of participants and onlookers the idea of surfing and its art form seemed to resonate throughout the event as a tool for awareness and enjoyment of our oceans.

“The whole point is to just get out on the water,” said Christensen. “We want to celebrate the ocean and honoring it with our sport today. We want to get people engaged.”

Christensen, who serves as Vice Chair for the chapter for the past two years, has been a member of the organization since he was 11 years old, growing up in Orange County saying he knew from an early age that surfing was his passion.

“It’s the most unique feeling you can ever experience,” said Christensen. “Surfing is calming, relaxing but more than anything a deep connection to nature and our world.”

The June 20 commemorative surfing holiday promoted the campaign to “Rise Above Plastics,” aiming to raise awareness of the dangers that single-use plastic bottles and containers impose upon our coastlines and the abundant ecosystems that depend on it.

According to Surfrider Foundation Chief Executive Officer Jim Moriarty, the use of single-use plastic water bottles are a “symbol of small-minded, insular thinking,” in which he reported to ESPN on June 20 that the work of his organization through its local chapters aim to educate the public on how they can make a difference in their communities to reduce pollution.

“The issue facing all communities is the plastic we’re letting go down our storm drains and into our lineups, oceans and beaches,” said Moriarty. “An ephemeral thirst should not be satisfied by a perennial, persistent plastic bottle that will most probably still be around in a few hundred years.”

“I love that people are starting to understand this and are moving back to the simple options of glasses and reusable bottles,” he said.

The San Mateo Chapter was founded in 1998, with the mission to protect the enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches, clean up coastlines from pollution and ensure that they are available to the people who wish to enjoy them.

Due to the economic troubles many states and counties have experienced in the last few years, budget cuts have closed down beaches to public access. In California, the rate has increased each year since Schwarzenegger’s budget reform.

For surf competition judge Mike Wallace, who works as an assistant coach for Half Moon Bay High School’s surf team, the thought of additional beaches closing, he said, deeply troubles the surfer of over 25 years.

“If you want to enjoy it, you have to give back and work for it,” said Wallace. “Surfers help draw attention to issues that affect our oceans and coastlines, but it should really be everyone, because it truly affects us all.”

“Surfers are the first line of defense for beaches,” said Wallace. “So many issues are being over-looked, and we can’t stand idle and ignore it, we simply cannot afford to do that. We owe it to our oceans not to.”

Wallace brought his son Konrad to the competition and event, saying that the next group of surfers and surf enthusiasts will be the new stewards of the waters and hopefully continue the work of current activists to ensure that our waters are protected and clean.

“Surfing is the kind of sport that anyone in the world can love because the love of the ocean is something we can all relate to,” said the 15-year-old high school student. “I love surfing, it’s relaxing and a great experience, and I hope that I can continue to do this if we keep our beaches clean and are aware of the environmental issues around us.”

Foundations such as Surfrider aim to carry the art of surfing’s legacy through to the next decades as not only a beautiful sport, but as a means of awareness of the waters that create and nurture life to our world and our world’s inhabitants.

Christensen hopes that campaigns such as “Rise Above Plastics,” and the Surfrider Foundation has done will continue to create positive global impacts to ensure that people are aware of the issues and begin to truly care to make a difference.

Only through active participation and thorough engagement in activism, he said, can we one day reach a point in our society where being protective of our environment is second-nature, so that the serene and beautiful waters of our world are clean, safe and accessible to us all.

“Surfers have a close connection with the environment because when we’re surfing we’re one with the waters,” said Christensen. “It affects us all, so we hope to make people aware of the issues and appreciate and love our oceans.

But we need to respect it and protect it for future generations to enjoy,” he said. “That’s the goal, and we have to do it.”

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Surfrider Foundation Promotes National Surf Day