While scouring social media a few months ago I ran across ads for a weekend of surfing at Lower Trestles. The ad read "The Wheat Cup" The Wheat Cup ?
I had no idea what it was but I was game to check it out.
I found out it was team Surfing. Team surfing?
Yes that was exactly what it was. Kids, young adults and older adults all competing for their home area teams. Turns out it was the culmination of the season of the West Coast Board Riders Club.
It intrigued me so i dove in a little deeper to find out what this was all about.
It was the brain child of three friends, Chris Moreno, Ziggy Williams and Casey Wheat. The "movement" they called it started in 2016 with 4 clubs surfing against each other. It grew to 8 clubs in 2017, reached 10 in 2018 and now as we approached the 2022-2023 season, the California contingent will hit 17 teams.
It is all under the umbrella of the US Board Riders Club which is made up of teams from California, Florida and South Jersey. Teams compete though out the year for a chance to represent their state in a year-end championship, bringing together the top two teams from each state.
Here in California, the WCBR , (West Coast Board Riders ) consists of teams from the Northern California Region ( Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, SLO County, Ventura and new this year San Mateo ), North Central Region (Huntington Beach, Northern LA, Seal Beach and South Bay), South Central Region ( San Clemente, Newport Beach, Seal Point and Laguna Beach) and the South Region (Encinitas, Oceanside, Carlsbad and La Jolla}
All teams compete in their home state, battling local foes on a monthly schedule that begins in October. At seasons end, the top two teams in each club (WCBR, South Jersey Board Riders and Florida Board Riders) compete for the national championship, which was won this year by the home team of San Clemente.
Two years ago, the WCBR decided their two teams would be decided by what you might call a play in tournament . It is called the Wheat Cup named after Wheat, who had recently passed away. The top two teams after this two-day event, would head to the national championship.
The boardriders compete in age divisions. It starts with 14 and under then goes 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50 and over and womens open.
Scores are tabulated through-out the day as each age group sends out 4 surfers per division, one at a time in a tag team style competition, combing the best heat scores of each group.
One thing that struck me as i watched the competition was the incredible comradery between the kids and adults.
Not only cheering on their own teammates but their opponents as well. Friends in life is stronger than a day of competition. I loved seeing adults, some who clearly are doing it for the love of the sport, get as excited as the kids, when they pulled off a good heat
"It all comes down to the fact that we encourage the clubs to not only surf but support the community with certain events they can do'" said commissioner and event director Darren Bilhart. "In the water, it bridges the gap between the older and younger generations."
The growth of the club continues to look bright as Brilhart told me that the mid-atlantic and Hawaii are working on putting together clubs that could join in upcoming years.
All clubs are open membership so anyone wanting to join in these community teams can do so. Anybody wanting information on how to join drop me an email and I will steer you in the right direction.
A touching video explaining what the Wheat cup is, how it began and some highlights of the events, can be see here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76euy9ph7BU&t=183s