VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The 20th Annual Coastal Edge Steel Pier Classic finally got underway Monday morning at the Oceanfront after two days of weather delays.
More than 300 surfers from around the world traveled to Virginia Beach to compete for the World Surf League North America Regional Longboard Title this Memorial Day Weekend. But high winds, at times in excess of 30 mph, and scattered thunderstorms caused competition organizers to call back-to-back lay days.
And even Monday morning came with challenges: fog was so thick Virginia Beach Ocean Rescue had to put up red flags because lifeguards couldn't see people on the water. And red flags remained up at the Oceanfront due to the high risk of rip currents and dangerous surf conditions.
Now, the competition is catching up on two days of surfing.
"We are surfing!" Coastal Edge President D. Nachnani said in a press release around 10:30 a.m.
"We are running double heats with double judges, and with the exception of a couple of fog delays, we remain on schedule. Activities will continue until 6 p.m. and end with our awards ceremony."
The event is the 2023 Regional Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) that surfers must compete in to move toward the 2023 Longboard Tour.
"As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this event, it is an honor to showcase the top longboard talents in North America and provide them with the opportunity to qualify for the 2023 Longboard Tour," Nachnani said about the competition.
Because of the weather delays organizers said they had to pack a lot of competitions into the Memorial Day holiday.
“What we have this Memorial Day is a three-day surf contest that has been condensed into one day," said Contest Director Wes Laine.
Contest Director Wes Laine said despite the low visibility, surfers had a lot to work with.
“Surf conditions today are great," Laine said. "It’s really good for First Street. We have many of the world's best international, professional surfers here for the WSL 1000 Professional Longboarding event.”
Vacationers and locals also packed the sand to soak up the sun.
“It was very rainy, misty, but thank God the sun came out today of all days," said visitor Bettina McClendon.
Bettina McClendon came from Maryland to enjoy the holiday.
“The people are nice the vendors are out selling nice lovely jewelry," McClendon said.
In the middle of all the fun, people said they didn’t forget why many people have off on Memorial Day.
“Just remembering who gave the ultimate sacrifices so we can be here today," said Petty Officer First Class Zack Owen.
There are also two Memorial Day-themed events taking place Monday to honor fallen soldiers. There's a surf competition taking place at 10 a.m. and a Memorial Day Paddle Out at 12 p.m.
Coastal Edge's Monday's schedule was condensed as follows:
- 7:00 a.m. - Competition Begins
- 10:00 a.m. - Military Invitational
- 11:00 a.m. - Pro Final
- 12:00 p.m. - Memorial Day Recognition Ceremony and Surfers Paddle Out
- 12:30 p.m. - Surfing Continues
- 5:30 p.m. - Awards Ceremony
After 2 days of weather delays and 300 surfers competing for just the one day, and 13.5 hours of surfing, Coastal Edge announced their champions.
Richie Cravey is the WSL 1000 Longboard Champion
Luke Gordon is the Mens Pro Shortboard Champion
Several winners were crowned in amateur competitions and other pro categories of surfers from 6-60+. A full list is available on their website.