THE BIG FIVE-O
 
 
 
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THE BIG FIVE-O

  • subtitle: Cocoa Beach's Renowned Easter Surfing Festival Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Written by  Tom Dugan
Tuesday, 4/22/14

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Easter Surfing Festival in Cocoa Beach, and this year’s edition was held over a three-day period from April 18th to April 20th. The contest is by far the longest running surfing event in Central Florida, and from the very first winner (Kenny Cohen in 1964) to this past weekend’s Men’s Shortboard Pro winner Michael Dunphy, Easter Surf Fest at Canaveral Pier has always been a favorite for top surfers and beach-goers alike. The first time I attended was in 1968, when the likes of Gary Propper, Claude Codgen, Bruce Valluzzi, Mike Tabeling, and Mimi Munro took to the water, and throughout the years, names like Jeff Crawford, Greg Loehr, Charlie Kuhn, Matt Kechele, Rich Rudolph, Todd Holland, and Sean and Kelly Slater have all graced the podium. Revered ASP contest vet Matt Kechele explained that this event has always been the one to win, and the prize money he and his fellow competitors would earn there each year helped them travel to other events around the world in pro surfing’s early days.

If there’s one person whose name is synonymous with the prestige of Easter Surf Fest, it’s East Coast legend Dick Catri, the event’s longtime organizer. He told me he was at the first event in 1964 and has been promoting it for 35 years since, with the last 25 consecutive years truly being he and event promotions partner John Griffin’s “baby.”  Dick said the list of great surfers who have come through the heats at Easter Surf Fest is a virtual "who’s who" of East Coast surfers, along with a sprinkling of Californians like David Nuuhiwa, Dale Dobson, Joel Tudor, Dodger Kremel, the whole Paskowitz clan, and also the likes of Hawaiia’s “Bonga” Perkins. There have been good years, and there have been great years throughout the contest’s history, but Catri was excited that this year’s waves were undoubtedly some of the best the contest has seen in recent memory, and he is also super proud that Surf Fest has come full circle back to its roots as a good, clean family event.

This year, competition started out on Friday in onshore winds with 5- to 6-foot sets rolling through, and the bar for performance was set high early on, as huge maneuvers went down in the chunky and somewhat challenging surf. Saturday dawned with clean offshore winds that changed throughout the day from west to southwest then back to west (which is offshore at the pier), keeping the overhead sets clean and rip-able. Saturday also saw sunny skies and mild 80-degree temperatures, making it an excellent beach day for the thousands of spectators on hand. Come Sunday, the waves had gone down in size, but there were still a few head-high sets coming through during high tide, and all the finals saw excellent surf, with an especially consistent pulse arriving for the Men’s Shortboard Pro finals. And, impressively, this year’s Stand-Up Paddleboard finals exhibited some of the most progressive surfing of the event, though there was plenty of mind-blowing talent to go around in all divisions.

If this year’s showing was any indication, Easter Surf Fest will definitely continue to be an event to keep an eye on in years to come. "Even though there are changes in the air with new sponsorship opportunities and a new owner of the actual pier, the show will roll on into the future," said Catri. And for as long as he’s still able to hit the beach, Catri plans to be right there in the middle of all the action. So, congratulations go out to all the competitors, and here's hoping for 50 more years of Cocoa Beach's Easter Surfing Festival.

FINAL RESULTS OF THE 2014 EASTER SURFING FESTIVAL:

MEN'S SHORTBOARD PRO

1. Michael Dunphy

2. Evan Thompson

3. Chris Duff

4. Corey Howell

 

GIRLS UNDER 12

1. Hannah Blevins

2. Isabella Perlmutter

3. Zoe Benedetto

4. Coral Schuster

MEN'S LONGBOARD PRO

1. Justin Quintal

2. Steven McLean

3. Tony Silvagni

4. Fisher Grant

 

MENEHUNES

1. Blake Elmore

2. Noah Dovin

3. Rachel Presti

4. Matt Edwards

WOMEN'S SHORTBOARD PRO

1. Emory McClary

2. Caroline Marks

3. Kayla Durden

4. Nikki Viesins

 

50 AND UP

1. Charley Hajek

2. Thomas Cook

3. Larry Holmes

4. Ken Osbourne

WOMEN'S LONGBOARD PRO

1. Leldon McClary

2. Mason Schrommer

3. Debbie Walker

4. Morgan Bakinowski

STAND-UP PADDLE

1. Kieran Grant

2. Fisher Grant

3. Tony Silvagni

4. Chris Rockwood

JUNIOR MEN'S SHORTBOARD

1. Logan Hayes

2. Chase Elmore

3. Noah Dovin

4. Andrew Slaughter

BOYS UNDER 14

1. Chase Elmore

2. Christian Mocny

3. Noah Dovin

4. Christian Daniels

   
 
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ESM EXCLUSIVES ARCHIVES
Access all the past archives of all features under ESM Exclusives.