OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE – Vaca Beach is a small beach near Las Flores surf club where Billabong was holding their Fantasy Surf Camp, where campers go with one of Billabong's top pros. While the Las Flores point break where the camp took place has an immaculate beach, the crew was taken back by the amount of plastic trash at this nearby wave. With all the enjoyment the area was giving the campers, Billabong Surf Camp Director Jim Kempton and the Billabong team decided it was only right to give back; building pride for the locals and education to solve the more long-term trash problem that plagues the coastline in El Salvador.
Billabong videographer Luke Thorpe was going to be on site for the duration of the camp so he set out to organize a ‘Vaca beach cleanup and locals only surf competition’. While acknowledging that this effort couldn't solve the whole problem, the main mission was to get the locals involved and show them how maintaining a clean environment would not only be healthier for the community, but attract more tourists to their tourism-based economy.
The way to do this would be to offer locals something in return for their work. The Life on a Board Foundation, a non-profit group set up to combat this sort of situation, teamed up with Billabong to accomplish the task. The Life on a Board Foundation stepped up and delivered over 60 board shorts and rash guards which were surely needed. Billabong donated all cleaning materials, board shorts, t-shirts, and sandals to be given to all who assisted with the cleanup.
Each group of campers who visited donated whatever they had to the cause. One camper, Wayne Price, went beyond his call and donated two surfboards! These boards turned out to be the grand prize in a local's only VACA beach surf contest which followed the cleanup.
Over 50 locals turned out to clean the beach and it was a tremendous success. Tara Angioletti of Girls Gone Surfing hosted the cleanup for coverage by Fuel TV. She was able to speak directly to the locals about the importance of the cleanup and the locals overwhelmingly agreed it was a problem they needed to solve.
The cleanup turned out to be a celebration. Las Flores Surf Club graciously dedicated the services of about a dozen employees who provided drinks and helped with the cleanup. In the end over 100 bags of trash were filled and brought in to be recycled. A small local band, appropriately named "Las Vacas locos," provided music and good spirits while the locals received their gifts from Life On A Board and Billabong.
After the cleanup 12 local surfers took part in a locals only contest. Each surfer got to ride 3 waves on each of the two trophy boards. Local shaper and Punta Roca Barrel riding legend, Yepi, was on hand to judge who rode the board the best. The two best surfers, Marvin and ‘Pato’, took the boards thirty steps to their home (and were out in the surf the 3 times a day every day following the comp!)
A huge prop to Luke Thorpe for all his efforts to make a difference – each step gets the planet closer to the solution.