(Kiteboard and Yoga Photos Taken By: Frankie Tuzcu)
As the smell of sunscreen permeated throughout the salty air, and a thick swami of spring breakers crowded the shores of Cocoa Beach, the fourth annual Beach ‘N Boards Fest turned out to be more than the average surfing competition. With endless events going on throughout the weekend including sea oat plantings, live music, professional athlete signings, free movie premieres, fitness productions, and multiple sports tournaments, this was a chance for the Brevard community to bond, market, and expand.
The idea of Beach ‘N Boards Fest spawned from local Mitch Varnes who had produced the Sebastian Inlet Pro tournament from 2005-2010. Ron Jon was the presenting sponsor of that event each year, however a recession hit the surfing industry and they lost significant sponsorship funds for that event. Ron Jon and Varnes continued to stay in close contact and ultimately decided to create Beach ‘N Boards Fest four years ago.
“We decided to create a new event in Cocoa Beach that would still have surfing as the focus,” said Varnes. “But also include almost every other form of board sports as part of it. I think the only one we are missing is snowboarding.”
The vital influence Beach ‘N Boards Fest created on the city’s economy is significant. Due to the size and timing of the competition, hotels were filled, restaurants were packed, and all of Brevard’s shops had an influx of business. Varnes explains that in it’s fourth year, the community is starting to rally behind this event. He states that the city fills plenty of restaurants and hotels with out of towners who come in for the competition. This helps put Cocoa Beach on the map as a family and surfing destination.
“I think this event was one of the best things to happen for Cocoa Beach and our local community,” said founder of NPI productions Dalton Smith. “This was a world qualifying series surfing event and truly something special for our local surfers, photographers, and anyone who wanted to be part of a high caliber event. This is the only WQS contest in Florida and there is no other contest around that offers the variety of action sports seen at the Beach ‘N Boards Fest.”
Smith and his crew produce high quality content to create spectacular highlight videos. For him and his company, this was a significant opportunity to capture quality action entertainment for his viewers, expanding his organization.
Event organizer Courtenay Porter explains why a WSL Jr. Pro event in Cocoa Beach is meaningful. “This helps surfing companies in California take us more seriously,” said Porter. “Every year the competitors and the brands keep coming back and each year is a blast for them.”
What is more, as Varnes stated, Beach ‘N Boards Fest does not exclude other board sports. What makes this event unique is the variety of board sports exhibited throughout the weekend. Ron Jon Kiteboarding Owner, Billy Bosch, coordinated and executed a Collegiate Kiteboarding competition. “As a kite shop owner, I am in a position to help students expand their network and knowledge base through the sport of kiteboarding,” said Bosch. “Ron Jon Kiteboarding does everything it can to promote and support students and the CKA.” Beach N’ Boards Fest was a great opportunity to promote Bosch’s brand while encouraging and empowering students.
While that was taking place, Ron Jon team riders were also competing in a skate tournament hosted by Instaramp and Cocoa Beach Skate Park.
Not only that, but Oakley hosted a high school beach volleyball competition as well. The event featured the top performance high school teams throughout Central Florida.
Furthermore, Billabong showcased a wake tank featuring some of the best wakeboarders in the country. These athletes performed top of the line stunts in a tiny pool as crowds gathered around them in awe.
In addition, Roxy hosted a fitness program which included a one mile SUP, 5K, and yoga. Everyone in the community was welcome to join, and free to participate in one event or all three.
For event organizer Courtenay Porter, this was a great opportunity to network her yoga business. Having participated as a yoga instructor at the Roxy Fitness event, “the Roxy yoga fitness program was awesome exposure and a great resume builder for me,” said Porter.
“I love that I get to work Beach ‘N Boards Fest,” said event organizer Porter. “I enjoy being around like minded people in my community who know and understand me. We all want to touch young lives, get them stoked, and want them to care about the environment; it is my favorite thing in the world.”
When it comes to the environment, Beach ‘N Boards Fest came together to create awareness throughout the city. Volcom, Ron Jon, and Keep Brevard Beautiful collaborated to plant sea oats on the dune line as part of a give back and sustainability campaign during the festival. Sea oats play an important role in the local ecosystem. They help promote dune growth and provide natural protection from damaging beach erosion. The program invited locals along with athletes to plant over 500 pre-sprouted sea oats. This ran on the last two days of the event.
What is more, free interactive events were held throughout the weekend for the community. John John Florence’s new movie View From A Blue Moon was screened Friday, March 11th at Ron Jon Surf Shop with free giveaways by Hurley.
Overall, the Beach ‘N Boards Fest played a vital role in helping our community grow. The event gave companies an opportunity to display their talents, it shined a light on Cocoa Beach as a surfing destination, and ultimately brought our neighborhood together.