We’re looking for the most optimal surf conditions, because we need Mother Nature to work with us.
A “board meeting” is scheduled for this month on South Padre Island with the return of the Texas State Surfing Championship at Isla Blanca Park.
The Texas Gulf Surfing Association, which sponsors the contest, has scheduled three at-call weekends for the event April in case the wind doesn’t cooperate for the first two, explained TGSA President Kristen Darden-Lewis.
“We’re looking for the most optimal surf conditions, because we need Mother Nature to work with us,” she said. “The first on-call date is April 15-16, and if it doesn’t look like the waves will be optimal for that time period, then it goes to the next weekend, then it goes to the next weekend.”
Still, in the 35 years TGSA has been holding the amateur event on the Island, lack of wind has not been an issue, Darden-Lewis said.
“Honestly, statistically there are usually always waves at the end of April at South Padre,” she said. “We’ve never not been able to have our contest. This is a good time of year with weather patterns.”
Darden-Lewis, who has surfed since she was 12, said the Island boasts the Texas coast’s tallest waves, which during hurricane swells can reach up to 30 feet. For the championship, though, TGSA is looking for waves about the height of an average man, she said, adding that how far out the surfing takes place depends on the tide.
“I was just surfing there this weekend,” Darden-Lewis said. “You’ll see a lot of the surfers go to what we call the outside, which is probably almost like three-fourths of the way down the jetty, if you were measuring it like that. But then sometimes the tide will change and it’ll move to the inside, which is right there (close to shore).”
TGSA holds four qualifying competitions each year to decide which of its members go on to the championship. Those competitions are held in Corpus Christi, Galveston, Port Aransas and Surfside Beach. To surf in the championship, members must have surfed in at least one regular-season contest in each division in which they wish to compete, according to TGSA.
The nonprofit organization was founded in 1988 to “promote the sport and spirit of surfing on the Texas coast through healthy competition with an emphasis on good sportsmanship, education and environmental awareness,” according to the group’s mission statement.
Amateur surfers come from up and down the Texas coast to the Island each year for the event, which always includes local competitors too, Darden-Lewis said.
“We’re thinking we’re going to have about 100 competitors, somewhere around there, that will compete, and then their family and friends also attend,” she said. “Of course we want any locals to come and enjoy the event as well if they would like to. We’re there all day.”
Blake Henry, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, described the annual TGSA championship as a “great family-friendly event” and invited everyone to Isla Blanca Park to attend.
“The waters of South Padre Island are incredible for a lot of things, surfing being one of the best,” he said.
Registration for the Texas State Surfing Championship is $50 per contestant and is open through April 14. For more information or to register go to SurfTGSA.org.