Though North Florida surf contests rarely see great waves during contest windows, one thing they do have, consistently, are great names: The Wave Masters, Justin Quintal’s Loggerhead Classic, Surf Warriors, King of the Hill; excellently branded events, all! But the late-March surf contest, Barrels for Boobs, takes the cake.
While one could admire the contest organizers’ wonderful use of alliteration endlessly, Barrels for Boobs is much more than a surf contest with a fun name. The annual event, now in its fifth year, raises money to promote awareness, prevention, and funds for the testing and treatment of breast cancer. This year Barrels for Boobs is donating to Pink Up the Pace, an organization that provides free breast imaging services to women and men in St. Johns and Putnam counties who have limited income or are uninsured.
This year the contest will move north from its previous locale on the rocky shores of Marineland to the St. Augustine Pier. Unchanged, will be the contest’s ultra-inclusive ethos, as those who wish to compete can sign up for traditional Men’s and Women’s Open divisions, join in on a Co-ed and novice heat, or enter a division which asks interested competitors to ride the “Weirdest thing you can surf.”
“Our contest is unique in that it truly is a friendly competition that anyone can enter,” says contest organizer, Jenna Curtis. “You have groms, veterans, and collegiate surfers in some of the heats and the sense of camaraderie is unreal.”
The first contest ran back in 2015 when Curtis was a member of the University of Florida organization, Wahines of the Waves; an all girl surf, skate, and wake club. Curtis and co-VP Marley Boerema brainstormed the first installment while long boarding with the club during the fall of 2014.
“We schemed about doing an event in October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month–clearly not realizing how long it took to coordinate an event!–but decided against it as October was jam-packed with football games, wakeboard contests, and other events,” Curtis recalled. “No joke, I was sunbathing on my St. Pete dock in December and it just popped into my head, ‘Barrels for Boobs!’”
Armed with a good idea and a clever name, the Wahines kept the momentum going and started contacting sponsors and pulling permits. In March 2015, the first contest took place on Butler Beach, south of St. Augustine. Sixty surfers competed in front of two hundred spectators and the event ended up raising about $1,300 for the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation.
This year, they’re mixing it up by adding the collegiate team category, where surfers who are members of collegiate surf teams compete for individual titles and overall team titles. Another notable division is the “Weirdest Thing you can Surf” category, where there’s only one rule: you must catch a wave to win. Previous years have seen the lineup populated by contestants riding folding tables, a canoe, a flatscreen TV, and most appropriately, giant inflatable boobs.
The top three finishers in each division will receive a podium pineapple, pink lei, and prize packs from sponsors. Top prizes for vary according to each division, but they include a hot pink Catch Surf Beater board, a Barrels for Boobs longboard shaped by Sean Piper of Ghetto Surfing Boards, and a hot pink quiet Flight shortboard.
Contest registration caps at 90 participants, so interested competitors should act fast and register before the slots are filled.
To find out more information, register for the contest, or make a donation, check out Barrels for Boobs’ website.