Gather the entire surf industry together, and you’re bound to have a good time. But put a beer in everyone’s hand and let them all loose in Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon to enjoy the surfable wave pool, lazy river, and waterslides for free, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a party. The Surf Expo Industry Party presented by Sanuk went down at Typhoon Lagoon on Friday, September 7th after a seven-year hiatus, and the 2012 edition also featured a surf contest to kick off the Stokes Me fundraising campaign for the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) Humanitarian Fund.
More than 20 surf industry teams entered the contest, including O’Neill, Rusty, Body Glove, Hurley, Nixon, Go Pro, Reef, Liquid Tribe, Billabong, RVCA, Volcom, Sanuk, VonZipper, Olukai, Ocean Minded, Quiksilver, Roxy, Teva, Surfline, GoPro, KeepABreast, Cocky Bastard, and Transworld. The two-person teams had to include at least one company employee, but teamriders like Mark Healey and Dave Rastovich also got in on the action. Each company donated $500 to the SIMA Humanitarian Fund in exchange for one split-peak wave that team members rode together. Actual surfing skill was a plus, but the crowd was essentially in charge of picking the winners based on who was the most entertaining, so ridiculous costumes and general buffoonery were highly encouraged. In fact, soft-top surfboards provided as a means of leveling the playing field wound up as the shred sleds of choice for many competitors. In the end, it was the RVCA team of Cori Barnick and a disturbingly skimpy bikini-clad Jim Shubin who went home with the win, but the entire event was so laid back and goofy that nobody was really concerned about winning or loosing.
“I was just here for Expo, but then Matt Kechele asked if I wanted to surf in this event, and I had always wanted to come here so bad as a kid,” said Quiksilver teamrider Mark Healey. “The wave is actually longer than I expected. It would be really cool to try bodysurfing here.” Australian stylemaster Dave Rastovich was also on hand for the Sanuk team, and he seemed equally impressed with the event. “It’s all about the cultural learnings of America for me,” he said. “I heard Surf Expo was the cream of the crop as far as the surf culture goes, and I think the wave pool is unbelievable. They should do this all over the world.”
As VIPs devoured free food and beer and thousands of spectators lined the wave pool between laps in the lazy river and tearing up the dance floor, fellow Sanuk teammate Alek Parker said he was glad to see everyone having such a great time while supporting a good cause. “I think it’s a really fun thing that Sanuk brought back this event, and to add in the charity element is just really cool,” he said. “They’ve done a good job making it a fun atmosphere. There’s no better way to raise money for charity. I definitely think it’s good that Sanuk stepped up to provide this for everyone.” Quiksilver’s Matt Kechele couldn’t have agreed more. “It’s great to see so many people turn out for a good cause,” he said. “This sort of thing makes you proud to be a surfer.”
Sanuk Marketing Manager James Crush said his company was happy with the way everything turned out, and he was glad to be able to include the Stokes Me Surf Contest as part of the Surf Expo Industry Party festivities. “We just wanted to do an event to support our East Coast retailers and say thank you, and we were also stoked to work in conjunction with SIMA’s humanitarian efforts,” he said. The feeling was mutual, according to SIMA Humanitarian Fund President Ross Garrett. He explained that the event’s overall vibe fit perfectly with his plans for the Stokes Me campaign, an industry-wide fundraising competition that kicked off with Friday’s surf contest. “Our campaign is about happiness,” he explained. “All these causes that our program supports get negative connotations associated with them because they are hard issues, but for us as surfers, it’s just about being stoked and giving back.” The SIMA Humanitarian Fund donates directly to 10 carefully chosen, surf-related humanitarian organizations, and the Stokes Me campaign will be pitting surf brands against each other throughout the month of October to find out who can raise the most money for the cause. There’s also a non-industry competition that anyone can join in on, and the winner gets sent to the Triple Crown. For more information on the Stokes Me campaign and to find out how you can help, visit www.StokesMe.org.