On the board, riding the waves. No cell phone, no worries.
“I enjoy being out here,” local surfer Jacob Simmons said as he emerged from the Atlantic Ocean, board braced by his side after catching a few early morning waves this week. “My alone time to get away from the world. For me, it’s like a sense of calmness.”
Like many other surfers in the Grand Strand’s tight-knit surfing community, Simmons remembers that first wave eight years ago; he caught it but, at that moment, the sport caught him too, for good.
For me it’s like a sense of calmness.”
surfer Jacob Simmons
“It’s like an instant thing,” Simmons said. “It kind of just sticks with you.”
The 23-year-old isn’t big into surf competitions anymore — except the Guy Daniels Memorial Surfoff, which kicks off Saturday in Surfside Beach. He’s not just one of the 100 to 150 surfers who will participate in the two-day competition, he’s also a local surf shop owner who will have a team there and who has donated book bags, board shorts, surf gear and other items for the event’s raffle prizes.
“The biggest thing is the atmosphere,” Simmons said. “Guy Daniels has always been that contest that gets everybody together.”
100-150Surfers expected to compete in Guy Daniels Memorial Surfoff
Some may come just for the competition, but many of the surfers who have participated in the 15 years since the event began come for the guy it memorializes. Guy Daniels was an avid surfer and Surfside Beach native who died in 1999 at age 19 after collapsing while jogging from an undiagnosed heart condition. He was a rising sophomore at the College of Charleston, spent his summers as a lifeguard in Surfside Beach and worked in a local surf shop.
Friends of his who have since moved to other cities find their way back for this August weekend every year, said Mikey Pruitt, co-director of the Guy Daniels Memorial Foundation.
“It’s not Christmas. It’s not Thanksgiving. It’s the Surfoff” [that brings them back to the beach], Pruitt said.
The competition has evolved through the years. The goal is to have something new every time out. The event has the usual shortboard and longboard competitions, but also features a stand-up paddle board race that was held for the first time last year and a “push-in” heat that lets adults push their surfing kids in the water. There will be a “mystery heat” this weekend where surfers won’t know what they signed up for until the competition begins. Audience applause will determine the winner.
And new this year: an adaptive heat for disabled adults and kids.
Organizers estimate about 2,000 spectators drop by the event at 13th Avenue South in Surfside Beach every year.
The Guy Daniels Memorial Foundation has awarded $85,000 to 57 students since it started in 1999
Pruitt said the event wouldn’t be what it is without the support of Surfside Beach, businesses and the surfing community.
Take Simmons. He wasn’t asked to donate items for the raffle on behalf of his surf shop Eternal Wave in Surfside Beach, he called and asked what the Surfoff organizers needed, Pruitt said.
“They are kind of part of it,” Pruitt said. “It’s just been a lot of community support.”
Simmons has won a second and third place in the Surfoff the past two years, he said. Could this be the year to land in first? “Hopefully, we’ll see,” he said.
But if not, that’s OK, too for the laid-back surfer, who never gets tired of a day in the water.
“It’s never the same,” Simmons said. “It’s always something different. No wave is the same.”
If you go
WHAT | 16th Annual Guy Daniels Memorial Surfoff
WHEN | 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
WHERE | on the beach at 13th Avenue South, Surfside Beach