At least 150 surfers will gather in Cherry Grove and surf in memory of Andersen Estep, the North Myrtle Beach 19-year-old who paddled out into the ocean last summer and never returned.
The Cherry Grove Surfing Championships are being held for the third time in North Myrtle Beach, but beginning this year the Northern South Carolina Eastern Surfing Association has changed the competition’s name to honor Estep.
Championships organizer Luther Sharp said the event, which will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 10 just north of the pier, will be known as Anderson Estep Cherry Grove Surfing Championship from now on. North Myrtle Beach City Council approved the special event permit on Monday.
Estep did not return to shore after he went surfing in waves brought to the area by Tropical Storm Andrea on June 7. His body was not recovered after a search by air and sea.
Estep’s mother, Michelle Estep, said she and her family are planning to attend the event, which will be held during Anderson Estep’s birthday week. He would have been 20 on May 6.
“That birthday week, which is going to be hard, is going to be made beautiful not only for us but for the entire community,” she said. “It really shows how God can make things beautiful.”
Michelle Estep said she’s looking forward to talking to the surfers at the event to tell them how much they’ve meant to her and her family since Anderson Estep disappeared.
Sharp said he’s know Anderson Estep for a few years, seeing him when he first started learning to surf near the Cherry Grove Pier for a few years, and the 19-year-old had become friends with Sharp’s children.
“It was really tragic when we lost him,” Sharp said. “He paddled out and never came back.”
Sharp said most people who surf regularly at Cherry Grove know each other, and Estep was known well for his happy disposition and always having a smile on his face.
Michelle Estep has been involved in planning this year’s event, with her Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church donating money to have T-shirts made with the symbol “4A” on them – meaning “for Anderson” – designed by fellow surfer Cody Stevens.
The championships are the first of six point competitions taking place along the Grand Strand this season that will determine who will represent the area at the regional and East Coast championships later this year.
For more information about the event, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/299169520232873.