By Dave Schwab
Now in its 12th year, the La Jolla Shores Surfing Association’s (LJSSA’s) annual Menehune Surf Contest charity fundraiser at La Jolla Shores has grown from humble beginnings to become a signature event embracing all ages throughout the beach community.
“It’s evolved from a surf contest into a one-day festival,” said Lorraine Schmalenberger, LJSSA secretary, of the event to be held Saturday, April 28 with opening heats at 7 a.m. culminating in a 3:30 p.m. awards ceremony. “It’s the best surf contest for menehunes (named for mythological Hawaiian dwarfs), but it’s also a way for us to showcase our surf club and raise money for charities.”
New this year will be a D.O.G. (Dads of Groms) heat at the end of the day so kids can cheer on their parents.
Supported by the community, LJSSA donates all net proceeds from the event, which costs $55 to $85 per participant, back to local community-and marine-oriented groups, including Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation, Wild Coast, Door of Faith Orphanage in Baja and the Sundt Memorial Foundation, which works to combat teen drug use.
“I’m really proud of the tradition that allows us to continue to pump money back to the beach community,” Schmalenberger said. “We’ve raised several thousand dollars for the (Kellogg Park) playground, bath houses and other improvements in La Jolla Shores that impact all of us in a big way at the beach.”
Menehune contest director Stephanie Hoffman had a hand in launching the event 12 years ago, which she said was begun to fill a void.
“There were sponsored events for good surfers, but we noticed there was a need for more non-competitive surf contests for those not so advanced,” she said. “We also wanted kids to get involved with a project that helps teach them how to give back to those a little more needy. That message was definitely part of it, in addition to giving novice or intermediate surfers a chance to compete locally.”
As a way of promoting and networking the event, LJSSA came up with the idea of hosting an accompanying surf art contest drawing local art from area school students. The art contest offers a grand prize of $100, with the winner getting his or her artwork printed on surf contest T-shirts, as well has having it displayed in Riford Library’s Youth Services Wing from mid-April to mid May.
Participating schools include Muirlands, La Jolla High, La Jolla Country Day, Francis Parker, Clairemont, Mission Bay and University City High Schools.
“It’s another way the surf club ties into the community,” Schmalenberger said. “And it’s a fabulous way for us to promote art. We’ve had great designs, imaginative art from our local artists — some truly inspired work that just captures the spirit of the contest.”
Schmalenberger said La Jolla Art Association is co-hosting and judging this year’s art contest.
The family-oriented Menehune surf contest also includes a barbecue, raffle and silent auction for kids. Local vendors and surf industry insiders also donate goodie bags, prizes and raffle and silent auction items.
Major event sponsors are rusty Boardhouse, Surf Diva, South Coast, Reef, Sector 9, Sea Brothers Surfboards, Josh Oldenburg Surfboards, BYP Surfboards and Blackbox. Also pitching in will be CUPS organic cupcakery and SHE Manages Properties.
Deadline: April 20