Leif Engstrom wins fourth NYSEA Open title; event included Surf for All outing

By Anthony Mitthauer-Orza

Despite the overcast and poor wave conditions for this year’s open surf contest, NYSEA’s seventh annual Surf Week took over Long Beach last week, and kept spectators busy with a five-day, jam-packed lineup of events.

Thousands of spectators came out to Long Beach to celebrate the summer event. The event, which honors the memory of Long Beach surfer George “Geeza” Geiser, ran from July 13-17 and featured surf and skate contests, parties, concerts and children’s events, and took another step toward publicizing Long Beach and its thriving surf culture.

This year’s event — sponsored by Hurley, Clif Bar, Honest Tea, Vintage Seltzer, 3 Water, and Skudin Surf — featured a “vending village” on the boardwalk between National and Edwards boulevards, offering food and products from the sponsors as well as clothing and accessories from local vendors.

“The vending village is awesome,” said Will Skudin, the founder of NYSEA Productions’ Surf Week. “It gives another element to New York Surf Week where people can go shop and see what’s going on and feel out the event”

The week’s main event, the open surfing contest on National Boulevard beach, took place last Thursday, and featured both professional surfers and locals vying for a $3,000 purse. Some of New York’s most talented surfers, including Jeff Anthony, TJ Gumiela, Leif Engstrom and Alexander Fawess, competed in the event.

Engstrom took home his fourth consecutive NYSEA Open title while earning the first-place prize of $1,500, but he wasn’t the only surfer who had a good surf outing. Jeff Anthony was the contest’s runner-up, and Alexander Fawess grabbed a third-place finish.

The event also saw Long Beach native Noah Wilson surf his way to a fourth-place finish in the professional event. After defeating local CJ Mangio in the quarterfinal, Wilson found himself in the semifinals against Jeff Anthony, but Anthony would advance to the final heat against Engstrom, who was looking for his fourth consecutive title.

Engstrom had a busy path to the finals as well. In the first round, he narrowly edged Gumiela in a rematch of last year’s finals, and went on to defeat Alex Fawess in the semifinals.

Prior to the final round, Surf for All held a surf outing for the blind and visually impaired. The group holds various outings throughout the summer where volunteer instructors give people with disabilities the chance to do something they’d never get the chance to do — surf.

“By showcasing the skills of the athletes who have disabilities, it helps in such a big way to inspire others,” Surf for All Co-founder Cliff Skudin said in an interview with the NYSEA. “There are really no barriers and obstacles that we can’t overcome.”

From there, the finals were underway until a thunderstorm approached the area. Although the storm quickly passed, the finals were postponed until 7:45 a.m. the following morning.

Though the final heat was put off, fans were treated with a movie night that featured the screenings of three movies at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park: “Fire and Water,” “Jobless,” and a SURFER magazine short featuring Will.

The kids’ surf contest — for competitors 17 and under — was held on Saturday, as the kids were given the spotlight to hang ten like the pros. Jack Richards took home first place in the male division, and Summer Ejnes snagged the trophy for the girls.

“New York Surf Week has really turned into an event where the community can come together and enjoy the sport of surfing and celebrate the sport of surfing,” Will said.

The Bowl and Street Bash that was scheduled for Saturday night at the Long Beach Recreation Center was cancelled due to inclement weather. The coordinators of Surf Week are reportedly hoping to reschedule the event for later in the summer after a successful showing this week.

“[Surf Week] is definitely growing,” Skudin said. “We’re not trying to make it much bigger because we like the local vibe of the event but it’s going really well. The community is out supporting the event, and enjoying a fun surf contest in the middle of the summer, and it’s great for the town.”

Article via LI Herald