“It was so exciting to see so many familiar faces, kids that we taught and who are doing very well and having so much fun,” Skudin said. “And the parents are embracing the sport as well — nowadays, kids are learning to surf the safe way and they’re able to do it successfully, and then competing and having fun at the same time. For us in Long Beach, the ocean is a big playground that we have, and for them to be able to learn how to use that playground in a safe way and have fun doing it is life-changing.”
Unsound’s Surf Pro event was presented by SPY Optics, and was dedicated to the late Danny Bobis, a well-known leader in the surfing community and a Long Beach High School math teacher who fought for three years to establish the school’s surfing team. The event raised money to help the team purchase new equipment and fund a trip to a surfing competition in New Jersey.
The best surfers on the East Coast, including Long Island pros TJ Gumiela, Balaram Stack and Leif Engstrom, competed in the event, part of a loosely connected East Coast surfing tour. The contest ran on a Sept. 5-8 waiting period, and the best swells rolled in on Sunday. Florida’s Ryan Briggs scored an 8.6 in the semifinals to advance into the finals and ultimately win the contest, while Rob Kelly took second and Blake Jones and Michael Dunphy tied for third.
It was the first major professional surfing contest to take place in the city since Hurricane Sandy. Surfline described the Unsound Pro as “the most progressive, professional surfing contest on the East Coast,” adding that this may have been the “most important Unsound Pro ever,” since organizers managed to hold the event in the aftermath of the storm.
Unsound, which opened in 1997, organizes a number of pro surfing contests and events throughout the year, and is credited with bringing the Quiksilver Pro New York contest to the city in 2011, an event that brought national attention to Long Beach and East Coast surfing. Last year, Unsound held its Right Coast Cup contest, an event presented by Quiksilver.