Part competition and part festival, the Buddy Pelletier Memorial Longboard Classic takes over the strand near the Oceanana Pier July 25-26, for a family-friendly match up for all age groups.

For years, this mid-summer contest has been a tradition for the surfing community and residents, not only for the prime chance to catch a few waves, but also to pay homage to the competition’s namesake, Buddy Pelletier. A top-ranked professional surfer and three-time winner of the Puerto Rican National Longboard Championship, Pelletier came home to the Crystal Coast in the early 1990s to spend his final days with friends and family before succumbing to cancer. It is through those same friends and family members, as well as new ones made along the way, that his legacy lives on through the nonprofit Buddy Pelletier Surfing Scholarship Foundation, which provides humanitarian aid and scholarships to the east coast surfing community.

“Atlantic Beach is thrilled to have the Buddy back at its home at the Oceanana Pier. Surfing is a big part of our culture and our history in Atlantic Beach and few events showcase this part of our town the way the Buddy does. It’s a family-oriented sport with a close knit community,” said Atlantic Beach Mayor Trace Cooper. “It’s great to see multiple generations of the same family surfing in the same contest at the Buddy.”

Longboards, unlike their shorter counterparts, allow competitors to ride even the smallest of waves, leaving onlookers with plenty of action to take in and giving entrants the opportunity to showcase their skill. While adult boards measure about nine feet, junior boards must be three feet longer than the youngster’s height.

Luring legends and grommets, professionals and newcomers to the sport, the festival celebrates the man, the sport and Bogue Banks’ longstanding relationship with surfing.

“Surfing’s deep roots in Atlantic Beach are evidenced by three of our town’s longest standing businesses – AB Surf Shop, Marsh’s Surf Shop and Bert’s Surf Shop. AB Surf Shop recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of doing business in Atlantic Beach and Marsh’s and Bert’s are not far behind,” said Cooper. “This shows how long surfing has been an important thread in the fabric of our town.”

The annual competition is sanctioned by the Eastern Surfing Association. Entry fees begin at $25 for all age divisions, plus $100 for the open pro heat, which carries a $2,000 payout – plus bragging rights.

Surfing begins each day at 7am and generally lasts until 5pm on Saturday, while awards are usually given out at 3pm on Sunday. Spectators are invited to linger for a while or spend a full day on the beach. But make sure you hang around long enough to enjoy the beach party and live music on Saturday night.

For more information, visit buddypelletier.com.

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