Here’s a bit of trivia: The most successful, most recognized surfer EVER is 11-time World Champ (and former Baywatch star) Kelly Slater. You with us, so far? But what feat, pray tell, represents Slater’s greatest Sunshine State contest victory of ALL-TIME?

Was it A) Taking the most skins at Sebastian Inlet’s famed King of the Peak? B) Racking up a 4.0 GPA as a National Scholastic Surfing Association competitor? or C) Earning a spot on the renowned ESA All-Star team alongside 1,000-time champion Jason Motes?

None of the above, actually. In fact, the greatest victory of Kelly Slater’s Florida surfing career had to have been his dominance of the U-12 Division in the 1984 WaveMasters Pro/AM right here in Northeast Florida. Of course!

Held annually for going on 35 years now at the Jacksonville Beach Pier, I would argue that–any Slater-related bit of surf world trivia, aside–the WaveMasters is the most esteemed surfing event in the Sunshine State, perhaps the most highly regarded on the whole East Coast. Come at me, dog!

One of the first meetings of the WaveMasters Society. Too many ledge dawgs to name. // Photo provided by Mitch Kaufmann.

Founded by the WaveMasters Society and continued under current torchbearer, local legend, and resident North Florida surf historian Mitch Kaufmann, the Pro/Am contest consistently coaxes top local, as well as regional and even national talent to Jax to compete against the best of the best for BIG MONEY. And with clean, contestable surf on tap for Saturday and Sunday, this year’s comp–the 35th Annual WaveMasters–will be no different. The top finishers in the Marker 32 Longboard Pro, the US Assure Women’s Pro, and the TacoLu Men’s Pro will rake in $1.5K, $2k, and $3k, respectively.

A yearly celebration of local surf culture, The WaveMasters magazine is something of a collectors item. Photo: Tye Wallace

For more info on this year’s event visit Aqua East Surf Shop in Neptune Beach or Sunrise Surf Shop in Jax Beach. While you’re there, be sure to grab a copy of the WaveMasters Pro/Am magazine. Put together by Kaufmann–who never ceases to fill the pages with hot surfing action and shout-outs to local shredders and lenspeople–the yearly publication is a celebration of surfing in Northeast Florida AND something of a collector’s item.

Should be a fun weekend, I say! See you at the contest.