Southeastern College Surfing Championships To Coincide With O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro

Sebastian Inlet, Fla. –   The Collegiate Surfing Association (CSA) hosts its inaugural regional college surfing championships at Sebastian Inlet, Florida on Sunday, January 11, 2009, with the finals set to occur in front of a packed beach on Saturday, January 17 during the O’Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro, the biggest and most prestigious surfing contest on the U.S. East Coast.  The finals will be held immediately following the Red Bull Tow-At and should hit the water about 2 p.m.

Surf clubs and teams from colleges in Texas and Florida have been invited to compete in the Southeastern Collegiate Championships, and it is expected that at least 10 schools will be fielding teams for the tournament. The University of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, Flagler College, Florida Atlantic University and Rollins Colleges are among the confirmed competitors.  Each team will be comprised of eight members, with the champion team and highest scoring male and female surfers from the event being crowned on the beach immediately after the finals.  The finals clash between the top two teams will be web cast live on go211.com.

The CSA is also announcing a partnership with the Eastern Surfing Association, the sport’s largest member organization, in which the CSA will host a Mid-Atlantic regional collegiate championship in late spring in conjunction with the ESA’s Scholastic Championships.  The Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Championships will be open to college surf teams from Maine to Georgia and will also include schools from the Gulf of Mexico region.

“We are very excited to be a part of the CSA; it has been long overdue that students have true collegiate championship opportunities on the East Coast and as a nation,” said Debbie Hodges, ESA Executive Director.  “CSA members will be able to compete in ESA contests gearing up for the CSA’s different regional championships.  This is an excellent match of surfing and education.”

The CSA is a non-profit 501c-3 organization created to allow competitive surfers the opportunity to continue competing while in college with its ultimate goal of seeing surfing become an accredited NCAA sport.  The CSA will not offer a regular competitive circuit but will focus on regional championships.

After its East Coast events, the CSA plans a summertime West Coast Collegiate Championship to be followed by the National Collegiate Championships that will feature a surf-off between all regional winners.

The CSA’s directors have met with athletic directors and university presidents along with decision makers at the NCAA, and interest is strong.  The CSA has also presented to surf industry leaders with its concept endorsed by the likes of Quiksilver CEO Bob McKnight, 4-time world champion Mark Richards, 7-time world champion Layne Beachley, industry icon Greg Loehr, and pro surfers Shea Lopez and Holly Beck.

“The CSA’s goals are to promote and foster top quality surfing competition at the college level and to consequently provide the surf industry with educated surf-savvy employees,” noted attorney and CSA co-founder Jack Kirschenbaum.  “A NCAA Collegiate National Surfing Championship is the way to do this, and our regional championships are a key to making it happen.”

“By and large, the surf industry has created a system that  incentives kids to not go the college route by paying salaries to teenagers and allowing them to believe they might be the next big thing,” said CSA co-founder Mitch Varnes.  “Look at pretty much any other sport, and college competitions are the stepping stone to the pros or not….Collegiate surfing just makes a lot of sense for most surfers in addition to the talent pool of educated surfers it would create for the industry.”

The CSA is supported by Red Bull, Ocean Potion, State Farm and the Florida Sports Foundation.  Parties interested in becoming involved with the CSA or individual college surf teams should contact info@collegiatesurf.com

The Eastern Surfing Association, the largest amateur surfing association in the world established in 1967, is a 501c-3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the spirit of surfing through their regional programs and 26 districts on the East Coast, Gulf Coast, great Lakes and Puerto Rico/Caribbean.  For more information about the ESA, please visit surfesa.org.