Surfers brave the cold, rain and wind in Icebox Open on Folly Beach
FOLLY BEACH — A weatherman couldn’t have nailed it better.
Men1. Kyle Busey (repeat champion)2. Blue Spivey (repeat runner-up)3. Albert Singleton4. Will RoperWomen1. Cat Rogerson2. Veronica Bolus3. Caxton Beaty4. Rose Windham
Organizers of the second Icebox Open surf contest on Folly Beach patiently waited all February for one weekend day with the best surf and the worst weather before setting the date for the contest, a tactic often employed by surf contest organizers in California and Hawaii.
They zeroed in on Saturday and got exactly what they wanted — barrel-shaped waves that grew from waist-high to shoulder high as the day progressed, with temperatures in the mid-40s to complement water temperatures in the low 50s.
And lots of rain to boot.
“On Monday, we saw there would be a south wind and a real big front coming through,” said Bates Hagood, general manager of Ocean Surf Shop, the contest’s co-sponsor. “By Thursday we said, ‘It’s on.’”
On Saturday, as most residents of the Lowcountry were exploring ideas for indoor activities, the area’s most dedicated surfers were enjoying conditions almost as good as those produced by an off-shore tropical storm or hurricane.
“(The surf) is clean. It’s chest-high now. And there are barrels to be had. For around here, it’s what we wait for,” said Hagood, who later in the day reported shoulder-high waves as the tide came in. “If the waves were like this in the middle of summer, there’d be 150 guys in the lineup.”
The Icebox is the polar opposite, so to speak, of the bounty of surf contests held during the late spring, summer and early fall where crowds of surfers and spectators in bikinis and boardshorts fill the beach and breakers at The Washout on Folly.
The Governor’s Cup district surfing championship, for example, draws up to 200 surfers on the second Saturday of August each year.
Saturday’s Icebox featured 34 competitors, including six women and several children.
Cat Rogerson, 24, of Folly Beach, and Caxton Beaty, 23, of Charleston, both year-round surfers, were undaunted by the cold, though Rogerson admitted to having cold fingers and toes despite wearing gloves and booties.
The young women, regulars on the local surf contest scene, agreed that the waves were “pretty decent.”
“For the past few days, it’s been pretty choppy, but it cleaned up for us today,” said Rogerson, who won the women’s contest and received a $400 cash prize.
Beaty, who finished third, admitted that she had been looking forward to the contest for the last few months.
“It gives you a chance to come back out and mingle with everyone. It’s nice to get together and surf some waves.”
Even with wetsuits, many of the younger surfers still shivered after competing in the open event against adults.
Alex Roncancio, 12, of the Isle of Palms, shivered as he chowed down on beef jerky under the shelter at Folly’s Washout, but seemed more disappointed about his performance than worrying about being cold.
“I didn’t surf well today,” said Roncancio. “I had so many opportunities, but missed them. I did this cutback on a wave that would’ve been the best of the heat. ... The cold may have something to do with it.”
Blue Spivey, who along with Hagood organized the Icebox, said one of reasons he wanted to hold it was to give back to the kids and the local surfing community.
“I’ve been a member of the Ocean Surf Shop team since I was 12. I’m 35 now, so it’s all coming back around,” said Spivey, who also competed Saturday and finished second. “I’m trying to give back to the kids so they can experience what I had as a youngster, making sure they have good boards and contests to surf in.”