Dog-Surfing Contest Comes to Flagler Beach as Mayor and Commissioner Hope to Surf the Next Virus Wave

Dog surfing is one of the wackiest and most beloved tricks of the American mind since Letterman’s silly pet tricks. But if its origins are obscure, it is here now: there is a “Canine Surfing World Championships” in California (where else?), Local dog-surfing competitions have sprung up along the California and Florida coasts, and something like “Incredible Dog Challenge and Surf Competition” has been going on Huntington Beach long enough to mark its 24th year last July.

Last fall, Flagler Beach Mayor Suzie Johnston and Commissioner Eric Cooley, who have four dogs between them, attended the “Surf Weekend for Puppy and Sup Dogsat the Guy Harvey Outpost Resort in St. Augustine. They were floored. Cooley had seen dog surfing videos before, but they were captivated by the atmosphere of the contest, the ironic fun, the sheer goofiness of it and the way it attracted all kinds of dog surfing fans from afar, including people who form their own subculture, going to these contests on both coasts.

Cooley, owner of 7-Eleven in Flagler Beach, has a view of a stretch of beach just begging to partake in the dog-surfing action. So now he and Johnston want to bring the wacky feel to town for a one-day competition.

“We saw with our own eyes how much fun it was and thought it would be the perfect fit for Flagler Beach since we’re a dog-friendly beach,” Johnston said. “You’re going to see Flagler Beach go viral.”

It’s May 21, on the sand parallel to 5th Street South of the A1A state road: the Hang 8 Dog surf contest will take place between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. is a take off from common surfing terms that indicate the type of balance that allows the surfer to hook 10 toes over the front of the surfboard.Since dogs only have four fingers on each paw, well… )

The entry fee hasn’t been set yet, but it’s usually between $20 and $30 for the surf itself, while other events are planned for the day, including a dog costume contest ( including the dog owner’s costume), a cookie hunt and a doggy-kissing tent, requires no entrance fee. Amy Lukasik of the Tourism Development Council will set up the dog-kissing tent, which may or may not be shaped like an A-frame, to mimic the A-frame of the Flagler Beach Pier.

There will be prizes: hand painted trophies, a dog bone plaque hand painted by a local artist, each prize an original creation by local artists. There will also be t-shirts and vendors, possibly including local vets and local sponsors. The event is advertised on social media, with posters and word of mouth, as well as direct contact with regular dog-surfers.

All proceeds will go to the Humane Society, Safe Pet Rescue and possibly two other dog rescue organizations, Cooley said, and that’s the whole point of the event. Beyond the fun, it’s about raising awareness of dog rescue issues and helping organizations financially. He has no idea how many people and dogs will show up. It’s the first year. As an inaugural event, he expects it to draw a limited number of attendees, but there will be photographers and videographers, so after that, who knows.

Cooley scheduled it for May 21, a Saturday, deliberately before school was out, so it wouldn’t coincide with a traffic jam of vacationers on the beach. “We didn’t want to compete with the summer holidays with the schools,” he said. “We don’t want to try to stall on the beach when all the kids are out.”

Before doing so, the two members of the commission had to obtain the approval of their commission. Flagler Beach gang dogs are on the beach, and the city also prohibits off-leash dogs. The event will take place on an expanse of beach and, by necessity, the dogs will sometimes have to be let loose in order to surf.

But it wasn’t a complicated request from Cooley, who left his seat on the dais, stood on the podium and pleaded his case as any other resident of the city would, during the application for such and such a permit. The whole request, part of a city commission meeting last week, immediately took on the same character as the contest it was referring to, with Cooley conceding ridicule from the surfing dogs and the commissioners laughing their hearts out. heart – and Commission Chairman Ken Bryan bringing out his cat side: “I’m bringing it back to the board for a discussion or a motion,” he said, when Cooley had finished, and wasting no time adding, “I I’m gonna bring my cat, Max, and I’m gonna smoke all these dogs.

The proposal elicited only one comment from one resident, Anthony Cinelli, who had this to say: “Come on. They are surfer dogs. It’s half a block. It’s half a day. I think we can do it. Surf dogs. How cool is that?”

But Commissioner Jane Mealy was also concerned about people who don’t like dogs. She wanted signs and notices on the web ensuring that people who would normally use that part of the beach would be aware of the contest. Cooley expects most dogs to be on the walk anyway.

“Eric doesn’t misunderstand me. I think it’s a wonderful idea. I just know not everyone likes dogs,” Mealy said.

“It’s something that as a dog owner I’ve wanted to do for many, many years and decided to take the plunge,” Cooley said. He and Johnston own dogs called Sedar, Chewie, Wednesday and Tia. Wednesday is the only surfer. The others prefer lounging on the beach, although Chewie used to surf, but she’s 21. “She’s going to surf, but we don’t want her to,” Cooley said.

Most dogs will need to be taken to the waves by their owner before they can ride the waves. Some dogs have the ability to pull their own boards, ride on them, and remount them, but not many. They are usually championship caliber dogs.

Naturally, Cooley did not take part in the vote, which was unanimous (the mayor has no vote, except veto power).

How far back does dog surfing go? Nobody knows. Between an article on how American soldiers fighting Nazism “took London” and another on “working dogs”, the September 1944 issue of National Geographic devoted an eight-page photo shoot to how ” surfers capture California”.

The final photo was of Tom Blake, founding father of California surf culture, riding a wave with what one cheeky caption writer called “His World Champion Dog Surfer, Rusty,” though he didn’t There was no dog surfing back then. . Rusty was simply “so passionate about the sport that he begs anyone who throws a board to take him”. There has never been another mention of canine surfing in the magazine’s 134-year history. Maybe Flagler Beach can change that.

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