Surf-off has become a staple event on the Strand

A local foundation keeps riding the waves every summer to help some local students with college scholarships, and everyone is welcome to watch the action along the coast.

The Guy Daniels Memorial Foundation’s 13th annual Surf-Off is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the beach at 13th Avenue South and South Ocean Boulevard in Surfside Beach.

This surfing competition – for men and women, and boys and girls, of all ages – rolls in memory of Guy Daniels, who died in 1999 at age 19 while a student at the College of Charleston and who spent his summers as a lifeguard in his hometown of Surfside Beach, where he also worked in a surf shop.

Mikey Pruitt, co-chief executive of the foundation, grew up in the same neighborhood with Daniels. He talked about how year after year, this surfing contest, which also promotes awareness to keep beaches clean of litter and cigarette butts, has become “smooth sailing” in making a difference for the community at large, especially with scholarship recipients going to schools such as Coastal Carolina University, Horry-Georgetown Technical College and the College of Charleston.

Having awarded $1,000 scholarships to eight students this year, the foundation’s fundraising committee hopes to increase the gift amounts and the number of recipients every year, Pruitt said.

Question | With $53,000 disbursed in scholarships shared by close to 50 students through the years, do those gifts for young adults’ long-term futures help complete a journey that Guy began?

Answer | That’s basically what we’re going to do. We get around 75 to 100 applicants every year, and it’s really hard to narrow down the list . ... We ask for a lot of things on the application. One of the most important ones is: What other scholarships have you been awarded or applied for? We want to help the people who won’t have an easy time getting into college, or who need more help financially. ... We’re trying to help people who are promising students, but have financial hardship ahead of them.

Q. | How does this surf-off, and any other surfing event, remind everyone of the importance of awareness on keeping beaches clean – for animals’ and humans’ benefit? Are surfers ambassadors for that cause, to “espect the beach”?

A. | Absolutely. We pretty much found that people who surf spend a lot of time at the beach and in the water. They’re more adept at the promotion of keeping the beach and ocean clean.

Q. | What are some basic fundamentals the spectator should look for competitors in the sport of surfing?

A. | The biggest thing is how they score on the waves. ... It’s basically how long your ride it and how maneuverable you are on the ride. The more waves you can do, and the longer you ride it, the better score you’re going to get. You break close to the beach, so it’s difficult to get a long ride. Kids have a weight advantage.

Q. | What have surf-off coordinators noticed in the turnout every year?

A. | Every year, we do see more people in attendance. Usually, we have 3,000 to 3,500 people on the beach; these are the spectators, families and the competitors. ... We’ll have people who started surfing in the contest when they were 10. These kids end up applying for the scholarships, when they become seniors in high school. So it’s great to help someone who has been a part of our foundation growing. ... The kids who started in our surfing contest are now in college or doing something in another state or country. We keep tabs on them and see what they’ve been doing.

Q. | When does the rush for a surfer hit? At the start of a crest? When the wave breaks?

A. | I think, it starts when you’re kind of waiting on the beach for your heat to start. ... When I was a kid, I noticed ... it’s like you’re anxious, with butterflies in your stomach. But when the horn sounds, and you’re far out, you think, “Now, I just got to surf.” You’re not just catching a wave, so you want to get those anxious feelings aside. Finally, when the wave comes in, it sends an exhilarating feeling, and if you break early, you think, “You’re still surfing. How bad can it be?”