The water temperature is barely 50 degrees, if that, and with a forecast for “chest-high” waves, it’s time for a relatively new Lowcountry surfing tradition: Ocean Surf Shop’s Icebox Open.
Store manager Bates Hagood announced Thursday that the fourth annual contest — which had a window of being held this year on one weekend day between Jan. 31 and March 8 — will be held Sunday at the Washout on Folly Beach because of favorable surfing conditions.
“The forecast is calling for a chest-high, chunky, south wind swell. Sets should top out head high in semi-choppy conditions,” said Hagood, adding that Folly “loves” a southeast swell direction. “We are looking for winds to trend southerly at 10 to 15 knots Sunday as another cold front approaches our area. There should be plenty of big, cold surf on Sunday for the contest.”
Meanwhile, for spectators, the forecast on land will be relatively spring-like, with air temperatures in the mid-60s, partly cloudy skies and only a 20 percent chance of rain.
The Icebox Open is the first local surf contest of the year and the only cold water contest in the Palmetto State.
The contest has 32 spots for men, 16 for women and 16 spots for groms, or boys and girls age 14 and under. Advance entry fee is $50 for men and women. Registration on Sunday, if slots are available, is $65. The fee is $35 for groms.
An early check-in party will be held 5-8 p.m. Saturday at Ocean Surf Shop, located at 31 Center St.
The contest, which starts at 8 a.m. Sunday for men, features a pro-am format. Heats will feature four surfers each and last 20 minutes. The finals in each division will be 25 to 30 minutes.
Top prizes for winners are generous by local surfing standards. The top male gets $1,000, the top female $400 and top groms get $250. Runners-up will get an array for prizes, including prize money, gift cards to Ocean Surf Shop, gym memberships and sailing charters.
An awards party will be held 6-8 p.m. Sunday at Rita’s on Folly Beach.
For more entry forms and more information, go to www.oceansurfshop.com or to the shop’s Facebook page, or by calling 588-9175.
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.