April 2, 2010
New events provide fun for all
BY HILLARD GROSSMAN
It seems Dick Catri has found a solution to the flat waves that wiped out the finals in last year's Ron Jon Easter Surf Festival.
Bodysurfing will be one of the new events at this weekend's 46th annual event at Shepard Park and the Cocoa Beach Pier.
"No, it's not because of that," laughed Catri, who with John Griffin, co-
produces the three-day event, which begins today at both sites.
"We've added a lot more things this year," Catri said. "What we've tried to do is make the event more fun, and open it up to people of all ages. From 12-under to over-60, there is an opportunity to surf against those in the same age."
The bodysurfing contest, at the Cocoa Beach Pier, will feature the introduction of the new East Coast Surf-Grip, a foam flotation device bodysurfers may use. Each of the men's and women's divisions feature a $500 purse.
There also will be a standup paddleboard surfing event at Shepard Park and a skimboard contest at the pier.
Catri has added a kitesurfing exhibition, a surf school and the usual Easter egg hunts for kids.
The main events are the $5,000 Ron Jon Men's Longboard Pro-Am and the $3,000 Steven G. Casanova Men's Shortboard Pro.
Finals are set for Sunday at both locations, with 10 events at the pier and six at the park.
"We've had a lot of East Coast champions come through here, and the level of surfing that it's generating has (blossomed) throughout the entire East Coast," Catri said.
The Ron Jon Easter Surf Festival is the third longest-running contest in the world, behind Bells Beach, Australia (the world's best pros are surfing there this week in the 50th annual event) and the East Coast Championships in Virginia Beach
(47 years old).
Last year's flat waves marked the first time the Ron Jon's finals were canceled because of that.
"We've never stopped this because the waves were too big, either," Catri joked. "But, really, one time in 46 years, that's not a bad record."
Each of the finalists split the prize money last year.
"They all enjoyed that," Catri said. "Never got one complaint. They know this isn't Sunset Beach."
Forecasts call for 2- to 3-foot waves this weekend with warm temperatures and sunny skies.
The Space Coast Office of Tourism estimates 100,000 people will check out parts of the event.
"It's Easter weekend, the beginning of spring, spring break, and people are sick and tired of being inside," Catri said. "It's time to start enjoying Florida. Hopefully, we'll have some good waves."
Contact Grossman at 242-3676 or