All photos by Carolina Sessions @carolina_sessions
The Wahine Classic has been a welcomed New Hanover County staple since 1997 started to promote the physical, mental, and emotional well being of women and girls.
The Wahine Classic Surfing Competition in Wrightsville Beach began in the summer of 2013. The event is one of the only all-female surfing competitions on the East Coast and it continues to grow each year, attracting both amateur and pro surfers.
The origins of the Wahine Classic in Wrightsville Beach go back to 1997 when Tammy Zybura Kennedy started the East Coast Wahine Championship (ECWC) in response to a tragedy that occurred in our female surfing community. The ECWC was a success from the start. As the event continued to grow, additional organizers were asked to help including Jo, Anne Beasley Weber, Paula Bushardt, Karen Allison, Lisa Andre and Jack Viorel.
Jo Pickett, a legendary surfing instructor with over 20 years of experience and the owner of Crystal South Surf Camp, is now the event’s organizer and current torch bearer. Jo’s skill at teaching surfing and her love of incorporating yoga for strength and balance, have made her a popular coach and a successful one in competitive surfing.
Many of her students have gone on to become surfing instructors themselves. From teaching surf etiquette and ocean safety to coastal ecology and marine life, Jo has helped many surfers develop a vast understanding of the ocean and how to enjoy surfing for pleasure or at the competition level and the current Wahine event is an extension of that part of her and then some.
As for the 2020 event Jo said, “We had the biggest participation this year I’ve ever had. We had 115 girls from Maryland to Florida stoked to join in. People want to do something,” stated the east coast surfing legend.
Pickett also said they took an abundance of precautions this year by distributing free masks to all the competitors, requiring groups to stay within their own social distancing bubbles and soaking jerseys in cleaning solution after every heat before giving them to the next athlete to don.
From seasoned female professionals to toddlers, the competition had divisions for everyone and was held over the weekend August 15th and 16th at the Carolina Beach Pier. The location was changed from Wrightsville Beach this year. There were a number of contestants from throughout the East Coast with 13 competition categories in all.
The weather was on and off, with rain and sunshine and on Saturday the waves were small in the 2-3 foot range but picked up a tad more on Sunday allowing enough wave action for the contestants to cut loose and put on a show.
Check the final standing below to see who won or placed.
Open Shortboard~ Katelyn Sewell
Girls Under 14 Shortboard: Annie Adams
Girls Longboard: Kaylee Heath
Pro Shortboard: Leilani Pickett
Jr. Women Under 18 Shortboard: Katelyn Sewell
Guppies Shortboard: Whitney Gwisc
Jr. Womens Longboard: Lili Preziosi
Tandem: Natalie Parker and Cate Arnold
Girls Under 16 Shortboard: Emmerson Shutterworth
Guppies Softtop: Kieran Bradley
Open Longboard: Kylee Heath
Pro Longboard: Kylee Heath
SUP: Nancy Slater