Competing in the Roxy San Onofre Classic (c2000)

From the Withitgirl ARCHIVE: By Mary Bagalso/ Photos by Michelle Woodward

The two-day event held at Old Man's on October 5 and 6 was quite a surprise. First of all, there were waves. Second of all, it was a beautiful weekend. Even better, there were so many competitors! Both days filled the beaches with 115 competitors each day - not to mention the lookeyloos wanting to know what all the ruckus was about. The beach looked like it was peppered with ants from the competitive lineup. I never expected to see so many menehunes attack the surf with such stoke. The beach was blessed with 2-3 foot glassy swell each morning... and the ambiance was radiating alohas.

Being a competitor in the Senior Women's Division, I had a great time watching the sport of surfing bring together such a diverse group of individuals. We had competitors from 9 years old to ones in their 50s. It was all about seeing the longboard revolution unfold. The opportunity to see such greats as the mother-daughter team of Jeanette Michaud and Cori Schumacher sweep in their divisions shows how the roots of the sport are growing through generations of surfers.

As each heat was called, the announcers' voices rang through our ears. We were amused while we stretched and prepared ourselves for the heats. The eclectic music selection from the 70s to the 90s was heard in the wind. But every bit of my mind was focused on the 15 minutes that I was to spend in the water. The nervous feeling started about half an hour before my heats. I was so set on drinking enough water, not getting a sunburn, and pounding power bars. "One at a time and pace yourself..." was all I could think of as every heat went by, each one bringing me closer to mine. Everyone - despite all the fun - was meeting the nervous, happy center that clicks on when we hit the competition mode.

All I could feel was my heart beating as the first set came through, and the five-minute horn sounded off. There were others around me in a solemn but peaceful place trying to remain focused. I found it quite interesting that even young ones had the gleam of victory in their eyes. As it has been said before: "When there is a winner...unfortunately someone has to lose." This event proved the saying wrong. Competitors went home happy, with a sense of new friendships and renewed reasons for why they surf.

It amazes me that our sport is not as big as we would have expected. The attendance at the event and the surprised faces of the judges at the outcome of athletes were good enough for me to see that our sport is growing. The level of competition in all age divisions was trending toward a more skilled and sophisticated level of surfing. The lifestyle of surfers is so appealing to the general public. It is the California dream that we are living. I still question what we could do to have more events like this one. In our own element, we experience so much joy. At every event, we are brought together, and that is fulfilling - even when the waves are not so perfect. The Roxy event is living proof that the family of surfing is still growing.

At the time Mary Bagalso lived and surfed in Oceanside, California.

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