Rip Curl gave a boost to East Coast surfing by signing on as sponsor of the Heritage Rip Curl Memorial Pro, a two-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) men’s event.
The event, which will be held August 30 through September 1 in Sea Isle City, New Jersey also includes a WQS Junior Pro competition and a men’s open longboard division, carrying a total of 30,000 dollars in prize money.
“Rip Curl is super stoked to be involved in an East Coast qualifying series event that is so highly regarded and supported by the East Coast surf community,” said James Sampson, chief operations officer at Rip Curl. “This is one of the few opportunities for East Coast surfers to get WQS points on their home turf and we are happy to back it — from the East Coast point of view, all the riders are there in a really big way.”
In addition to gaining WQS points, surfers will also have the opportunity to qualify for the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour.
“It gives some of the local kids here a chance to test the waters and see how they do in an international competition,” explains Brian Heritage, contest director and owner of Heritage Surf and Sport, which has put on the event since 1990. “We’re really excited to have a fresh and energetic group like Rip Curl backing this contest into the new millennium.”
The Heritage Rip Curl Memorial Pro is open to any surfer who is a member of the ASP, and offers a prize purse of 20,000 dollars. The Junior Pro, for ages nineteen and under, is also a WQS sanctioned event with a 5,000-dollar purse. The longboard division, open to everyone, also carries 5,000 dollars in prize money.
The preliminary competition begins on Thursday, August 30, with the quarters and semi finals on Friday, August 31. The finals will kick-off a great Labor Day weekend on Saturday, September 1.
“We’ve scheduled it at a time of year when not only is it a great way to end summer, but there could be a hurricane swell with a better chance of good waves,” says Heritage.
Competitors will include last year’s winner and Rip Curl team rider Gabe Kling of St. Augustine, Florida: Rip Curl team Riders Jamie O’Brien of Hawai’i; Anthony Petruso of Malibu, California; Mike Losness of San Clemente, California; Matt Gilligan of Wrightsville, North Carolina; along with Bruce Irons of Hawai’i; Joel Tudor of Carlsbad, California; and local standouts Frank Walsh of Long Port, New Jersey and Matt Keenan from Marmora, New Jersey.
Over the years the event has gained a loyal following of competitors from coast to coast, says Heritage: “We’ve had guys from California to Florida coming to the event because we make it fun, like surfing competitions used to be, with a grassroots feel.”
The contest will include a party for the surfers on Friday evening with surf movies and a live band. “We create a friendly atmosphere for the competitors- almost like a family type of surf contest,” continues Heritage, a former pro surfer. “Only the stakes are higher now as a two-star WQS event.”
The first Heritage Pro took place as an amateur event in 1990, with the top surfer winning a round-trip ticket to Hawaii. It became the Heritage Memorial Pro and a one-star WQS Pro event in 1998 as a memorial to Dan Heritage, founder of Heritage Surf and Sport, and a major supporter of East Coast Surfing, who passed away in 1998. The 2001 contest will be covered in live time on www.Heritagesurf.com.
A major sponsor of worldwide surfing events for 31 years, Rip Curl sponsors surfing events from the World Championship Tour event in Bells Beach Australia (for 28 consecutive years) to the North Shore of O’ahu and the beaches of Southern France.
Domestically, the company will also sponsor the Rip Curl Pro at Newport September 4-9, a four-star WQS event on the PSTA tour.