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Surf jousting at the Switchfoot Bro-Am. Photo via YouTube
Columns Waterspot

Waterspot: The story behind surf jousting

I have never been an outstanding surfer. Average, but never anybody whose rides would be discussed by surfers seated around a Baja campfire.

Those honors went to some of my friends: Ken Bradshaw, for his big-wave prowess; Margo Godfrey Oberg, for her pioneering women’s surfing; and Herbie Fletcher, for his sideslip and last-man-standing attitude.

Nobody talks about the guy who takes off and links up a couple turns. That’s me and that’s okay. I love surfing and hope to do it my entire life.

While I was never anywhere near champion status, I hope to be remembered for my contribution to the sub-sport of surf jousting. 

I remember the day at Moonlight Beach when the light went on.

I was talking to Andrew Logreco, one of North County’s top surfers who moved to and ripped into Oahu’s North Shore a few years back.

Andrew and I were watching a San Dieguito High School reunion surf contest, and during a lull, I said, “What we need is to combine Early Times jousting and surfing.

We laughed over the possibilities and filed the idea under simple beach banter until Switchfoot’s Bro-Am approached. 

I think it was the year of the oil spill, when the beach was closed and dodge ball was played in its stead, when I mentioned the idea of surf jousting to Switchfoot’s drummer, Chad Butler.

Before I finished my sentence, Butler’s eyes lit up, he ran the idea past the other band members and returned to say that surf jousting would be happening the following year.

That must have been about a decade ago, but since then, surf jousting has become a fun part of an already fun day, at the annual (except for this year) Switchfoot Bro-Am. 

I have called myself its inventor, but that is only partially true.

Logreco’s imprimatur and Butler’s work to design weapons and padding are what made it all happen.

It was early morning when I sleepily approached the scaffolding to do my MC duties. It was then Chad pulled me aside to reveal Nerf jousting sticks, helmets suitable for a medieval warrior and a winner’s trophy.

Up first were Switchfooters Jon and Tim Foreman.

While they were expected to do well, Jon’s full-length gorilla suit ended his heat early when it became saturated with water and nearly took the talented musician down in a literal sense. 

The other surfers in the heat, including Tim, did quite well as I recall, each of them rocking their opponent with a few well-placed padded whacks.

The criteria for winning was simple: Whoever stays on their feet the longest wins.

I don’t recall every heat over the years, but I recall that Justin Cote was always in the finals and came first enough times to be knighted Sir Fing several years in a row.

Cote is undeniably the Kelly Slater of surf jousting, and at last siting was so far ahead of the competition that he would be the first inductee to the Surf Jousting Hall of Fame, if there were such a thing.

Hey, you never know. Obviously stranger things have happened.

Hopefully the Bro-Am and surf jousting will make a hit again next year.

If so, I’ll see you there.

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