Community first. That’s the Board Riders concept in a nutshell. Modeled after existing clubs in Australia and California, the newly formed Florida Board Riders is a place for local surfers around the state to come together and do all sorts of things as a unit: inner-club meets, beach clean ups, charitable drives, movie nights, and of course, surf contests.
“Surfing has grown so big so fast, which is cool,” says Dane Jefferys, about why he started the Florida Board Riders. “But I think especially during these crazy times we need to pump some blood into the heart of the culture, which are the local surf communities. Bringing everything full circle, the Florida Board Riders hope to not only foster the next generation of surfers in the state, but also to support local businesses and better connect surfers to the communities they surf in.”
The last decade has seen surf comps in Florida fizzle. Whether from a lack of financial support or because social media has turned us all anti-social, the days of a new amateur, pro or pro-am comp happening every Saturday all over in the state are over. Which is why the Florida Board Riders is revitalizing comp days and community gatherings, while bringing some big names back into the fold.
When was the last time CJ Hobgood, Asher Nolan and Gabe Kling were in the water at the same time competing in a surf contest in FL? It’s been a decade, at least. But last Saturday, at the Saint Augustine Pier, that’s what happened when the three ringers from the 40s division battled against not just one another, but also for their communities as a whole, during the first stop for the Florida Cup, held in fun chest-to-head high January surf. A score, by all standards.
Utilizing a tag team format, the Florida Cup pitted Saint Augustine, Ponte Vedra, Jacksonville, and Space Coast against one another in 7 divisions: 14 and under, 15-19, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and Open Women. While each division competed directly against each other, the overall point tally determined the winner.
“The Board Riders reminds me of being a kid again,” says Saint Augustine club President Gabe Kling. “I remember growing up I’d be so starstruck of all these other surfers around the state, and the weekend comps were such a good personal measuring stick, and also where I first formed lifelong friendships with guys like the Hobgoods and so many others.”
And that’s really the point. Sure, the competition matters. In Saint Augustine on Saturday, Jacksonville and the Space Coast entered the final division—the 20’s— nearly tied after six divisions, until Chauncey Robinson’s 7.5 double-whammy banger put the Space Coast up for good. But more important than the final tally was the gathering itself. The fact that, for a day in Saint Augustine, generations of Florida surfers—including former CT and QS surfers, a world champ, magazine poster and cover boys and all of their families—came together to support and compete with one another once again.
Next up: Melbourne Beach on February 20 for the second of three stops.
Results from Stop #1:
Space Coast: 173.3
Saint Augustine: 141.42
Ponte Vedra: 94.1
For more information about Florida Board Riders or to get involved with your local club, visit floridaboardriders.com