UCF junior Zack Sjuggerud, treasurer of Surfing Club at UCF, said the Kings of Clubs Classic is like a "surfing Woodstock."
Members of the Surfing Club at UCF traveled to Carolina Beach, North Carolina, to compete in Saturday’s Classic, which also marked the fifth installment in the competition's run.
Junior Katia Babitzke finished in seventh place in the semifinals; Sjuggerud placed fifth in men’s shortboard; and junior Jonathan Wallhauser placed third in longboard and fourth in men’s shortboard. The two-night, three-day trip was filled with surfing, camping, live music and some unfamiliar circumstances for the surf club, Sjuggerud said.
Although Surfing Club at UCF has competed every year in the Kings of Clubs Classic, this was the first time the club traveled to and competed in North Carolina to represent UCF. The event is normally held in Palm Coast, Florida, during the springtime, Wallhauser said, but it was extended to North Carolina and took place in the fall for the first time ever.
“Kings of Clubs is the one event a year that everyone looks forward to,” Wallhauser said. “It’s the club’s most anticipated event besides California Nationals.”
Due to this high anticipation, the hosts of Kings of Clubs decided to put on two Classics in one academic year. The second Classic of the 2021-2022 year will take place this coming spring, Sjuggerud said.
When preparing for competitions, Surfing Club at UCF practices in Florida waters. Members surf in places such as Satellite Beach, Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach, junior Kevin Downie said. Downie said club practices involve mock heats that put members in a competition-like atmosphere, allowing them to practice how they would play.
Wallhauser, the club's risk manager, said the waves in North Carolina are completely different from the ones in Florida and unlike anything the club is used to surfing in.
“The waves in North Carolina are way more intense and less forgiving,” Wallhauser said. “Somewhere like Satellite Beach is a night-and-day difference.”
In addition to different waves, Wallhauser said the club anticipated different weather conditions as well. Wallhauser and Sjuggerud said they decided to wear extra clothing when in the water, in response to the cooler atmosphere in North Carolina.
Sjuggerud said wearing a topper —the top half of a wetsuit — is essential when surfing in colder waters. Wallhauser said he never has to wear a wet suit back in Florida, but he wore the top half of his suit while in the North Carolina waters.
“The colder it gets, the more rubber you need,” Sjuggerud said .
Wallhauser said it was difficult to get members to go on the almost 600-mile trip to North Carolina, with only four members of the surf club traveling to represent UCF.
Despite these new conditions, members of the club were able to place in the Classic and enjoy live music at the Kings of Clubs after party, with performances from the bands Narah, Ridgewood and Pleasure Island.