Words by John Kinmonth Photos by Len Bartell
Westport, Wash. – The morning’s first heat had absolutely nothing to do with surfing. Instead, deep-fried dawn patrol in the starkly exposed fishing town of Westport was all about razor clams. Forget about small swell windows, the clam-digging season can be over in a manner of hours due to regulations and—while the surf was marginal—the clams were going off.
Besides dodging Budweiser- and shovel-wielding crews in camouflage (better to sneak up on unsuspecting clams), the scattered surfers of the Pacific Northwest gathered to compete in the ninth-annual Clean Water Classic this past May.
Not to be confused with the much-hyped Cold Water Classic WQS contest series, the Clean Water Classic is the longest running pro-am contest in the area, only with bragging rights instead of ASP points. Though it’s hard to think about clean water as the catastrophic BP oil leak gushes thousands of barrels of black gold into the Gulf of Mexico on the other corner of the country, the feel-good event included competitive divisions for almost all manner of waveriders—sorry bodyboarders—including a costume expression session and kid with parent division.
Drawing surfers from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and a small, plucky contingent from Hawaii, the waves hovered in the waist-high range, varying between mushy and punchy with the tides. The usual high performance contest antics went down. Lips were bashed. Noses were rode. Lulls were greeted with less-than-Zen-like patience.
Scoring one for the old-man crowd, Kirk Tice of Oregon took out a bunch of guys half his age as he swept up first place in both the Pro/Am and the Master’s (40 and up) shortboard divisions.
Can you actually wax an oil tanker? The question begged as the oil executive sprinted out of the shore break searching for a bar of cold-water formula during the costume expression. Meanwhile, a neoprene-clad ladybug snuck a smooth cheater five before getting clipped in the antennae on the inside, and a masked luchador sat out the back waiting for a bomb off the top ropes.
Later, the keiki division embodied the positive spirit of the weekend as parents shoved smiling young children into wave. The crowd cheered for every whitewash standup. The weekend was capped off with a silent auction for some amazing art pieces and surfboards, and a live show featuring Tapwater, the band, and beer, the beverage.
For full contest results, visit www.surfrider.org/seattle/events/cwc_2010_results.php.