Flagler Beach, FL – Ready to bring home the hardware, Flagler Beach surfers were out in full force representing the Flagler Board Riders Club on Saturday, October 9th.
As the first stop on the Florida Cup Series, North Division for the Florida Board Riders, it was an auspicious occasion with picture perfect weather, moderate wave action and plenty of good-hearted camaraderie among the clubs out to compete.
Watching from the boardwalk, Chris and Colleen Conklin were out to cheer on the home team. As a board member of the newly founded Flagler Board Riders Club and mom to two surfers, she was excited to see a competition finally making its way to Flagler Beach.
“One of the things I love the most as a mom of boys who grew up surfing and competing, we had to travel to St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Melbourne, Cocoa to compete. And all of the groms, young surfers, from here, had to go elsewhere to compete. This is an exciting time because we, in Flagler Beach, now have our own board riders club and we can host competitions here in the city. The city has become very friendly to surf competitions, and so we hope this is just the beginning of a large number of events that we would like to host here,” she said.
As part of the close-knit surfing community she, along with many other parents, have had an opportunity to watch the local surfers share their talent and technique with the next generation, helping to produce national and world champion surfers and more importantly, good human beings.
Among those home grown champions, Haley Watson Stephens headed out to compete, representing the Daytona Beach chapter, where she now lives. As a three-time national champion and founder of the annual MayDay Memorial Surf Classic, she’s had the benefit of surfing some in some of the greatest locales on the planet, but still pays homage to her East Coast roots.
“I’m actually kind of conflicted because since I live in Ponce Inlet I’m surfing for the Daytona Board Riders, I’m from Flagler Beach and that will always be my hometown, and then I even have sponsors out of St. Augustine, so that kind of all just sums up the camaraderie of surfing that sometimes gets forgotten in a traditional surfing competition format. I think that’s why we have such a great turnout, because it is so much fun.”
She was excited by the team mentality for what is usually regarded as an individual sport.
“The setup is extremely unique. It’s kind of a new, innovative format with the board riders clubs. Here with the board riders it makes it a team effort. I think one of the reasons Flagler is so strong is because it has always been such a tight knit community both in and out of the water and reflects their performance when it comes time to compete,” she said.
The Florida Cup Series drew solid attendance from both surfers and spectators, something that bodes well for the next big surfing event in Flagler Beach, with the upcoming 20th Annual Tommy Tant Memorial Surf Classic set for November 14-16th.
On hand to represent his hometown as a member of the growing Flagler Board Riders Club, surfer Will Tant credits the local community for supporting the ambitions and dreams of their kids who take to the waves on a near daily basis to enjoy the sport they love, while making events like the Tommy Tant and FLBR cup series stop possible.
“I think this surf town needed a spark to get us to start a surf club, and now there’s such momentum because it is a surf town, where we all really enjoy surfing, we invest our lives in it, so it’s fun,” shared Tant. “I always think Flagler’s a powerhouse of surfing. It’s a great place to start because more than anything else I think Flagler Beach is a surf community. You really get that community spirit here.”
“For us, for me personally, I’ve run a local contest here with the help of the entire community and so the Flagler Board Riders is really tapping into that sense of community that we’ve had here for so long.”
Looking to November anniversary event, it’s full circle for the Tant family as they watch the next crop of young groms hit the waves together.
“The special thing about the Tommy Tant is that it’s more than a surf contest,” he said. “It’s about spending a day, a weekend at the beach with your family and friends, and that’s actually what we try to tap into. We all take for granted each other’s lives and it only takes a second to lose one person. Every single person here makes a difference, so we’re just looking forward to gathering everyone together, celebrating 20 years of community.”
Florida Board Riders North Division Cup Series Stop 1 Results (By Points):
- Flagler Beach
- Fernandina Beach
- Ponte Vedra
Featured Photo: Pro surfers Haley Watson (Daytona Beach) and Will Tant (Flagler Beach) take part in the Florida Board Riders Florida Cup Series on Saturday, October 9, 2021 in Flagler Beach. Photo: Danielle Anderson/FNW