Story by Laurie Simmons, WTKR Reporter
Web Package/Photos by Holly Henry, WTKR Online Producer
It’s been 50 years in the making.
“It will be, hopefully with the weather cooperating with us, the largest action sports event on the east coast,” said organizer D Nachnani of Coastal Edge.
The East Coast Surfing Championships, a Virginia Beach staple since the early 1960s, just got a big boost for its 50th birthday celebration – it will be moving up from just a four-star rated tournament to a six-star rated tournament.
This means some big names in surfing will be competing for bigger prize money.
“We will see a lot of people that normally don’t compete in the pro division be here for the money and the points, it’s a big deal, because Virginia Beach doesn’t really get this type of attention very often,” said Wes Laine, former pro surfer.
And those bigger names will draw bigger crowds.
“The rooms we secured on the Oceanfront for the event are already filling up. To give you an idea, we expect over 300,000 people to come to Virginia Beach,” Nachnani added.
Businesses like Waterman’s Grille, located right next to the site for the surfing championships, can’t wait for what’s to come.
“Huge weekend for retailers, restaurants, hotels, means a lot to us,” said Mike Standing, owner of Waterman’s Grille. “This is the biggest draw I believe for the Oceanfront, for the city, for the entire year, because it attracts all different types of people.”
But this event is not just about money, – it’s also about showcasing the rich surfing tradition and heritage that has grown over generations in Virginia Beach in what is now the longest continuous running surf event in the United States.
Former pro surfer Wes Laine says, “Families who have generations of kids, parents, and grandparents who have competed in the event and still do, it’s lots of fun to see them down there.”
Event coordinators have even invited President Obama to attend. He has an invitation, and his own board if he chooses to come.
According to surfecsc.com, the ECSC will be held in Virginia Beach from August 20 – August 26, 2012.