The Coast News Group
Switchfoot bassist Tim Foreman, left, and surfing legend Tom Curren metaphorically making lemonade from oil at the Switchfoot Bro-Am. Photo by Chris Ahrens

Waterspot: When the going gets tough, the tough play dodgeball

A filthy wave of disappointment washed over the competitors and the sand at D Street as we peered over bluff to see that the ocean had been turned to a lighter shade of tar.

It seems that a distant relative of the Exxon Valdez captain had done the dirty deed on our coastline by leaking oil into our favorite playground. The result was that the second — was it the third, fourth, fifth? (Anybody?) Switchfoot Bro-Am, that playful annual surf contest/slash concert/ fundraiser benefiting homeless children, other charities and the Encinitas community was off. Showing what true champions are made of, multiple Surf Jousting belt holder Justin Cote raised his head and whispered one word like a desperate prayer: Dodgeball!

Within minutes teams were chosen, uniforms distributed, the marching band played and our town was treated to the elusive contest as some of the world’s top surfers and musicians placed their feet beyond the crude oversight to pummel one another with colorful, spongy orbs.

In prior years this was a surfing event — a “Bro Am” not a “Pro Am” where everyone was welcome to compete for points, and kids and their parents gathered in a celebration of life. Seldom was heard a discouraging word and the sea was not murky all day.

Just one year prior the waves had been a clean and glassy 3 to 4 feet as children of all ages paddled out to the sounds of West Coast rock and folk. Surf, music, waves and the bros, the pros and the sisters of the waves all there to ride them for fun and a good cause. What could be better?

True to its name, the Switchfoot Bro-Am requires surfers to ride waves in both regular foot (left foot forward) and goofyfoot — which is not a derogatory term BTW — (left foot forward) fashion. This is a team event where surfers are required to ride waves in both regular foot (left foot forward) and goofyfoot (right foot forward) fashion.

If you think that’s an easy task, try it sometime. When switching stance all but the top pros, like our own legendary local Rob Machado and World Champion, Tom Curren look uncharacteristically awkward.

Still more awkward is the surf joust where pent up aggressions are vented as surfers hammer one another with harmless weapons and the last person standing is knighted “Sir Fing” in a solemn ceremony presided over by the Encinitas royal family.

Live music joyfully assaults the brain throughout the day, culminating with Switchfoot electrifying the crowd and moving a sea of people as one unconquerable army of hope, faith and love. Notable past guests at the Bro-Am include Jason Mraz and Foo Fighters lead guitarist Chris Shiflett.

To date the Switchfoot Bro-Am has raised nearly $2 million for various worthy charities. Once again, this year’s extravaganza is slated for Moonlight Beach.

Bring beach towel, sunscreen and a nonplastic refillable water bottle (the Rob Machado Foundation has Purification Stations set up at various locations.). The event is scheduled for June 27 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Moonlight Beach.

For those new to town, you can find Moonlight Beach by pointing your car west on Encinitas Boulevard and driving until you see the ocean. We only ask that you stop in time to avoid another Pacific oil spill.

But even if that were to happen, the boys in the band or their friends would think of something.

1 comment

Mia March 5, 2020 at 2:07 pm

Love it. I’m pretty sure dodgeball year was 2007 :) Hope you’ve been well, Chris!

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