By Paige Clarke and Luis Sanchez
The third stop of the World Surf League’s International Longboard Tour is coming to Nassau County’s Long Beach from Sept. 6-12.
The four-part competition that just kicked off in Noosa on March 7 will feature some of the world’s best surfers as it makes its way to Long Beach, offering a $30,000 prize to the winners and stimulating local tourism. It will be the largest surfing event to take place on the island in nearly eight years.
“Having the competition here is really cool and exciting, I love longboarding – it’s one of those things that seems like a lost art,” John DiMarzo, a surfer from Oakdale, said. “Now it’s all about how far above the lip can you go, how hard are your turns… but longboarding is really where it all started.”
Long Island could welcome more than the 9 million visitors it already receives annually, according to research by Discover Long Island, a local non-profit tourism agency. The agency has been working closely with the World Surf League to hold the competition and give the region some positive exposure.
“The benefits of an international event of this caliber for the destination are tremendous, shining a spotlight on Long Island as the epicenter of the Northeast’s surfing culture and establishing Long Beach as a world-class family surfing destination,” Maggie LaCasse, the director of communications at Discover Long Island, said. “Surfing is a special part of our region’s culture – an untold story that a widely viewed competition can help us tell potential new visitors around the world.”
The last major surfing competition hosted at Long Beach was back in 2011, called the Quiksilver Pro Tour. It was the largest professional surfing competition held on the East Coast, with top surfers like Kelly Slater vying for a million-dollar prize.
Locals like Luke Hamlet, who owns Long Beach Surf Shop, are stoked to see big-name contests returning to Long Island shores. “I think it’s a really good thing – last year they had a smaller test of the Stand-Up Paddle Board Association’s international event from the World Surf League, and people from places like Australia, Spain, Norway and Sweden attended. It was really nice,” Hamlet said.
The World Surf League was granted $254,000 by the New York State Regional Economic Development Council to host the event, a significant amount of funding compared to what local competitions have received. “I think it’s weird how the state gave people out-of-state money to run a surf competition, yet people from Long Beach have been running competitions for years,” John Henry, who works at Unsound Surf Shop in Long Beach, said.
“These contests have been underfunded and never get any help from the state. I think it’s unfair giving people out of state money while acknowledging no other local entities. We’ve always had international contests, but they got more funding than local ones,” Henry said.