The Unsound Pro surf competition returned to the Lincoln Boulevard beach for its 18th year last week, as 48 surfers battled it out from Sept. 1 to 5.
The competition also featured a vending village made up of the event’s sponsors with huge sales and discounts on their products, as well as parties and autograph signings throughout the week.
The contest is sponsored by Unsound surf shop, at 359 E. Park Ave., and is the largest surfing competition in New York. It follows last year’s Volcom Unsound Pro, and saw the return of hometown favorites Balaram Stack and TJ Gumiela, as well as pro surfers from around the globe.
Unsound co-owner Dave Juan said that over the years, the contest has grown and helped to put New York surfing on the map. He added that the promise of hurricane swells is a major draw for surfers from other parts of the world, and that although this year’s weather didn’t fully cooperate, there’s always hope for next year.
Surfers competed in 20-minute heats of four athletes, with the two top-scoring surfers advancing to the next round. Dane Mackie, a grom from Barbados, took home the top $2,500 cash prize on Saturday after edging out Micah Cantor in the event’s final heat. Juan said that the victory was huge for a teenage competitor like Mackie.
“The contest is pretty well known and there’s a lot of big surfers there, so it’s a big accomplishment to win,” he said.
He also noted that local pro surfer TJ Gumiela performed great throughout the contest as well, advancing the furthest of anyone from New York.
This year’s event — sponsored by Spy Optic, Nixon, Oam, Stance, Panda Diplomacy and Swingbelly’s — also featured a visit from Norm the surfing dog, which Juan said drew a huge crowd. “It looked like the train had just let out, that’s how many people were coming down to Lincoln to see Norm,” Juan said. Norm helped raise money for the Tommy Brull Foundation and nearby Camp Anchor, which benefits special needs children.
According to Juan, the event is an opportunity for younger surfers to check out the pros up close and aspire to compete on their level some day.