At the beginning of Vans' "Get-n Classic Volume 1" from last year, Joel Tudor refers to San Diego as, "a working-class town." It's sensible that the Pacific Beach Surf Club held its Club Contest at Tourmaline Nov 3rd and 4th, and Tudor was there. Tourmaline is a working class wave. It is uniquely ordinary: flattened, crumbly beach break that shines infrequently. It is more likely that you will find average surf populated with people squeezing in a morning session before work, or scrambling to grab a few waves during glass off at the end of the day. It's a wave covered in longboarders recognizing the practicality of those boards for the wave's (lack of shape), and a few of us that stubbornly surf there on shortboards regularly with often disappointing results.
The first day of the contest proved the fickle nature of the break, with waves in the contest zone running regularly a foot shorter than those 50 yards further north into the cove. A smattering of brightly colored boards with colorful 8" and larger fins lay spread on the grass between the parking lot and the beach, a longboard buffet. Winds held off for the majority of the morning, and with a 7am start a fair number of rounds completed before they started blowing side-shore from the north just ahead of noon.
This was a contest about glad-handing and high fives rather than any serious competition from all that was observed. The only malice was directed at an errant free surfer who refused to kick out for a competitor, prompting cries of, "what a dick!" from shore. It was more about smiles and beers tucked in between vans and VW buses in the parking lot. There were divisions for kids, adults, older adults, paddle boarders, shortboarders, the whole gamut. Despite an announcer and a PA system, I never heard a heat winner announced any time of either day; only the awarding of raffle prizes, including several references to Donovan Frankenreiter's mustache. Fitting, since with the start of Movember, a number of participants sported mustaches, both real and applied with glue.
The second day provided significantly smaller waves than the first, but with warmer weather and bright sunshine, it provided the rest of the things that those of us working up and down the San Diego coastline love: big groups enjoying themselves on a November day above 80 degrees, beautiful people scattered among the sands and cheering for everyone in the water. The finals heats I watched commenced without acknowledgement that they were anything more than six people going surfing in jerseys for fifteen minutes at a time. no muss, no fuss.
I couldn't tell you who won. I can report with certainty that there were nose rides and cross-stepping for days. And I realized I should pull out a board above 5'10" on a more regular basis, and see if it doesn't prompt the big smiles most people were sporting. And maybe a mustache.