November 17, 2014

What to Bring with You to Watch a Surf Competition

If you've never had the pleasure of watching a live surf competition, you really should try it at least once.  First of all, surfing is one of the few sports you get to watch while sitting on a beach and soaking up some sun.  Secondly, you can witness moments of spectacular action.  Like watching a baseball home run, football long bomb, or basketball slam dunk, seeing a surfer drop into a ferocious barrel wave or launch into an aerial maneuver high above the crest of a wave can make your jaw drop.  Finally, it can generate emotions of intense tension.  As time winds down in elimination heats, and the surfer you're rooting for is behind in the scoring, you can find yourself on the edge of your seat, praying for the ocean to send in a set of surfable waves and for your favorite surfer to surf flawlessly.

Granted, surfing might not be for everyone.  It requires patience and time.  There can be long lulls in the action during the 30 minute heats, and a series of heats might take all day and an entire event might take several days.  But if the aforementioned reasons pique your interest, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a live surf competition.  The ASP, the Association of Professional Surfers, soon to be renamed the World Surf League, features 11 events around the world on its World Championship Tour.  It has 34 events in its Qualification Series.  And that's just for the men's side of professional surfing.  In addition to women's professional surfing events, there are also any number of local surf competitions worth checking out.

If you decide to go, you're going to need to bring a few things with you.  Unlike a trip to an arena or stadium to watch your local professional sports team, you're going to need to bring more than just your wallet to buy over-priced beer and food.  Here's what you need:

1. Sun Protection

Whenever you're out on the beach, you need protection from the sun.  Even when it's cloudy, the sun's ultraviolet rays can still be damaging to your skin.  The highest priority is sunscreen.  Remember, most surf competitions last all day, and that's a long time to be under the sun.  Sunglasses would also be helpful.  Most people's eyes start to feel the strain of bright sunshine after spending all day outside.

In most cases, what you shouldn't bring to a surf competition is a beach umbrella.  You're only going to end up blocking the view of other spectators, and they're not going to like it.  If you really need more than sunscreen to protect your skin, wear a hat and long-sleeve t-shirt and cover your legs with a towel.

2. Camera and/or Video Camera

Like any other memorable events, you're going to want to preserve the memories for later years.  So bring a camera and/or video camera.  Just keep in mind that you might need a camera with a lens or a video camera with a high zoom, depending on how far the surf breaks are from the beach where you're watching the competition.

3. Something to Sit On

While there are some surf competitions whose organizers provide grandstands, most do not.  So you're going to need something to sit on.  A towel might do for some people, but sitting for hours with your knees pulled up to your chest or laying back on your arms gets stressful after a while.  Your best bet for comfort is to bring a portable beach chair.

4. Rain Gear

It's not likely to rain, but you never know.  And some surf areas are prone to quick sun showers.  Having a poncho and/or an umbrella on hand will let you continue to enjoy a surf competition without having to take refuge in your car.

5. Cash for Food or Food

At most surf competitions, there are places nearby to buy something to eat.  If not brick-and-mortar establishments, food trucks usually post up.  If you plan to stay all day at a surf competition, you're going to get hungry.  You can also bring a cooler full of snacks and meals, something you can't do at most professional sports arenas and stadiums.

6. Water

You also need to stay hydrated at a surf competition, especially if you plan on staying all day.  Even if it's not hot and humid and you're not sweating profusely, you're still perspiring and you'll need water.  Fortunately, you can bring your own, and you won't have to pay $3 for a bottle at an arena or stadium.

7. Binoculars (Optional)

Some surf competitions take place at breaks that are offshore enough to make them hard to see and enjoy.  In those cases, you might want to bring some binoculars to take in the action.

Pay heed to this short checklist, and your day or days of watching a surf competition will be as pleasant as they can be.

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