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Menehune Surf Contest set for this Saturday

The fifth annual Kids Menehune Surf Contest, named for mythical, magical Hawaiian troublemakers, will be Saturday, April 16, at La Jolla Shores.

The surf contest, sponsored each year by La Jolla Shores Surfing Association, involves boys and girls up to 18 years old competing throughout the day in longboard and shortboard divisions. More than 130 contestants are expected.

“The idea was to create a safe surfing environment for kids,” said surf association member Lorraine Schmalenberger. “Let them participate and do something fun, and we donate the proceeds from the contest to designated charitable organizations every year.”

Association member Stephanie Hoffman said the group wanted to give back to the community. “So, we established this event fund-raiser and give the proceeds to community outreach organizations.”

The group goes to local businesses, such as surf shops, clothing companies and skateboard companies, and ask them for donations or sponsorship.

“And we put that toward the event to make it as fun as possible for the kids,” said association President Louis Fehrensen. “But the event is not only for the kids. It brings everyone together to find out about La Jolla Shores, about the surf club, and they have a good time.”

Last year, proceeds from the Menehune Surf Contest benefited the Meals on Wheels program for seniors, the International Scholastic Surfing Federation, Surf Riders environmental group and Toys for Tots Christmas giving program.

The first surf heat begins at 7 a.m. All participants receive gift bags filled with event T-shirts, participant trophies and a barbecue lunch.

The surf club also hosts a raffle during the competition with prizes like surfboards, skateboards, surf apparel and accesssories, vacation getaway packages and gift certificates.

Major event title sponsors this year are Rusty surfboards, Reef surf apparel, South Coast Surf Shops, Sea Brothers Surfboards, Surf Diva, Pacific Beach Surf Shop and Point Conception.

The La Jolla Shores Surfing Association is a non-profit with roots dating back to the 1960s. The surf group has formed and reformed over the years with different names, mostly in response to surf-related issues.

“The club basically evolved through beach issues that come up,” said Fehrensen, “things like moving the lifeguard towers in the ‘70s and a proposal to reduce the size of the surfing zone at La Jolla Shores in the ‘80s.”

In the 1990s, the club was reformed yet again with activist members pressing to have the organization become a permanent fixture in the community.

“Some proactive people wanted to take the club a step further,” said Fehrensen, “focusing a lot more on environmental issues such as water quality, bench and graffiti cleaning and getting youth more involved in surfing. We didn’t want the group to be just a bunch of old curmudgeons. We wanted to get more young people down there surfing.”

La Jolla Shores Surfing Association named its annual fund-raiser for the mischevious jungle-roaming menehune from Pacific island folklore who are dangerous one day, harmless the next. Lore holds they are cunning creatures to be avoided, unless a special favor is needed of them.

Menehune mythology is as ancient as the history of Polynesia. When the first Polynesians arrived in Hawaii, they found dams, fish ponds and even temples, all presumably built by the menehune who were already inhabiting the caves in the islands. The little gods, something akin to Ireland’s leprechauns, are said to enjoy dancing, singing, archery and cliff diving.

La Jolla Shores Surfing Association presently has about 100 members and is actively recruiting new ones. The group issues a quarterly newsletter named the Shore Rider.

Fehrensen is calling upon surf club members to turn out for the April 16 event.

“We need judges, people to cook hamburgers and tally the score sheets,” he said.

Surf club members are all looking forward to the April 16 menehune event.

“Hopefully, we’ll get good waves and good weather,” said Fehrensen.

Visit the surf association’s Web site at www.ljssa.org.