Photos and captions by Tom Dugan @tomduganphotos, story By Donny Ottofaro and Jim Tolliver
The 2020 Eco Pro Surf Series kicks off with our opening event at Paradise Beach and Park in Indialantic, October 3 or 4. The crew behind the Eco Pro is looking very forward to their 4th season especially because the WQS and international travel has been on hold this entire year. They are working tirelessly to provide a professional surf series for professional surfing right here in the Sunshine State. This season they will run 3 competitions within a 9-week period to crown this year’s champions.
The Eco Pro has an excellent staff going into the 2020 season including Contest Director Skye Robinson, Head Judge and former WCT judge Jeff Klugel, along with a lineup of experienced WSL certified staff, event directors and contest organizers including Jim Tolliver, Donny Ottofaro, Jesse Robinson along with supporting staff members. In an effort to stay true to the staff’s coastal conservation initiatives, there’s even a high probability the team may go to Live Scoring instead of paper this season.
Due to unfortunate and obvious circumstances like Covid-19, the managing charitable organization behind the Eco Pro, Future 6 Helping Hand, has had to make some tough decisions to cancel their own free surf programs for children with disabilities in 2020. Future 6 Founder and Executive Director, Donny Ottofaro, mentions “the risk is not worth the reward this time around when children’s lives could be at stake.” However, in speaking with the Committee that Donny helped put together including Committee Chairman Jim Tolliver, Jesse Robinson, and Skye Robinson, the Eco Pro can, should, and will go on.
The Committee agrees that this year’s series could be what actually saves Future 6 heading into 2021 as the organization is down financially by almost 70% in charitable contributions directly affected from Covid-19. Charities only thrive when they stay active in the community and this team clearly understands that. “There are no professional surfing events in Florida this year, too many restrictions on traveling making surfing destinations tough to get to. The Eco Pro must happen because Florida’s surfing community needs it, Future 6 needs it”, says Eco Pro Chairman, Jim Tolliver. With Skye Robinson also excited for the series, the crew at the Eco Pro and Future 6 are hopeful for a solid turnout.
“While we have had to make several adjustments keeping safety in mind, we have decided on hosting the 2020 three stop series in specific locations for specific reasons. Not only will the Eco Pro be the only professionally run surfing event in Florida in 2020, every competitor should recognize they are playing an intricate role in helping to save an amazing organization like Future 6 and empower them to continue running their free programs when Covid-19 is under control.”
Competition will be top level once again this season. Men’s Pro division will be stacked this season with likes of WCT hopeful Evan Gieselman, WQS standouts Chauncey Robinson, Micheal Dunphy, Giorgio Gomez, and Blake Spier. WQS standouts and Eco Pro champions Daniel Glenn, Tommy Coleman, Chase Modelski & Ryan Huckabee heading the Men’s Pro field also with Florida standouts Corey Howell, Tommy Grooms, Jensen Callaway, Jesse Heilman, Robbie Goodwin, Robbie McCormick, Sam Duggan, Chris Duff, Matthew Glenn, Josh Nicastro, Matthew Zaccaria, Hunter Roland, Kedren Ferrero, and Austin Clouse.
Competition promises to be exciting. Masters Pro champions like Jimmy Bloomenfeld, Kent Compayre & standouts like Jay Smith, Stephon Nipple, Matt Dayton, Bob Lindsey, Shane Suefert, Bryan Craig, William Kimball, CJ Ilano and newcomers like powerhouse Randy Nolan should make it a very competitive season. Women’s Pro should also be very competitive with past champions Coral Schuster, Ava McGowen along with WQS competitors Zoe Benedetto, Sara Abbott, Bree Smith, Rachel Presti, Australian stand out Amiya Doyle, Kayla Durden and local standouts like Haley Watson, Ellie Barimo, Bree Labiak, Salome Abegar, and Abbey Yates. Junior Pro champions returning include Chase Modelski, Ryan Huckabee, Tommy Coleman along with standouts like Blake Speir, Robbie Goodwin, Braeden Kopec, Ethan Harbinson, Kepa Mendia, Sterling Makish, and Reef Coote. We can’t forget our international competitors like Icah Wilmot of Jamaica along with a list of former WQS competitors from Australia, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Barbados, and Trinidad.
Competition Event Directors Jim Tolliver and Donny Ottofaro, contest director Skye Robinson and head Judge Jeff Klugel are all focusing on the goal of building a model for professional surfing especially for the upcoming youth in Florida and across the east coast. Jeff Klugel states “I’m excited about the upcoming Eco Pro series for 2020! The WSL’s cancellation of events for this season opens so many doors for competition at the grassroots level. Surfers still want contests and opportunities to improve their skills. The Eco pro events will provide surfers those opportunities. I’ll have competent judging panels ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and results are true and consistent. I’ll do my part as Head Judge to maintain the professional level throughout the events the Eco Pro strives for. It will be fun for everyone and I hope to see you there”.
Mens Pro competitor and all-around great human, Corey Howell, gave these heartfelt words “the Eco Pro Surf Series is among the few contests that strive to give surfers a platform to compete and deliver a powerful message. A call to action to our surf community to save our favorite place, the ocean. Pick up some trash, be aware of what is going on in Okeechobee, sign petitions, take action, don’t let people get away with trading our happy place and the life of the ocean for money. At the contests, I will be doing my part setting up an area for all athletes to check on musculoskeletal injuries and partnering with ‘Who We Play For” to provide all contestants with EKG heart scans. Each year, the Eco Pro is getting bigger and the message is getting stronger. Let’s stand together for what is right and do all we can before it’s too late.”
The schedule looks promising and there’s nothing that anyone can tell thus far that will hinder a schedule change outside of Mother Nature. The Eco Pro crew is working diligently on securing donors to help offset costs and up the ante in the pro division purses. In case you didn’t know, the pro division purses are determined by the # of entries and 100% of those entries determine the base payouts in that respective division. The Eco Pro last year was able to pump up the earnings at every contest with some help from the communities they hosted in and the crew is hitting the streets hard to do the same for this year’s series. “Competition is going to be tough this year as all of us have been cooped up frothing for a contest and of course to be around friends up and down the coast” says Event Coordinator, Jesse Robinson.
The 2020 Eco Pro Surf Series, presented by Surfing’s Evolution and Preservation Foundation, West Palm Animal Clinic, EKO Beach Life, Surf Taco Jupiter, Island Root Kava Bar, My Religion Surfboards, Groundswell Surf Shop, Tropical Waters Pool Services, Crowd Control Surfboards, Konrady Coring and Cutting, and McCranels Orthodontics, have provided the schedule below:
October 3 or 4 – Paradise Park
2301 N. Highway A1A, Melbourne, FL 32903
October 24 or 25 – Juan Ponce de Leon Landing
4005 Florida A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951
November 14 or 15 – Jupiter Beach
Stair Access TBA based on conditions
Season Final Points Champion awards location Surf Taco Jupiter.
Registration should be done online and is available up until 3pm of the Friday prior to the scheduled event date and can be found at www.ecoprosurf.org