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Surfs Up OC

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

Surfers all around the world will be in the water catching waves Saturday, June 20th because it is International Surfing Day. Surfing has gone from a sport to a passion and here in Ocean City, MD it is more popular than ever.
Like other beaches, Ocean City is known for surfing. However, due to the large crowds during the summer months, surfing is not permitted between 10am and 5:30pm (when the lifeguards are in the stands), except for the designated surfing beaches. Every day there is one street uptown and one street downtown that allows surfing the entire day. In addition, there is one section of beach along the inlet intended for surfing from Monday through Friday with the exception of major holidays. The surf beaches rotate daily and schedules can be found in local surf shops.
During the summer months, surfers in Ocean City are both locals and tourists. According to Chauncey’s Surf Shop owner, Chauncey Rhodes, business is decent between September and April, but like any business in Ocean City, the summer is what makes or breaks the year in terms of success. A local surfer and Endless Summer Surf Shop employee, Bob Hahn actually prefers surfing in the winter because there are better waves and less people.

Both tourists and locals interested in surfing have plenty of options on where to get their surf gear. There are surf shops that line Coastal Highway. Some of the stores include: Malibu, K-Coast, Chauncey’s, Endless Summer, Sunshine House Surf Shop, Backdoor Surf Shop, and Surfer Guy and Girl. For those people who have the desire to surf, lessons are recommended and are offered many places in Ocean City.
Endless Summer Surf Shop, for example, holds lessons daily in the summer. Lessons are available in the morning from 8:30 to 10 or in the evening from 5:30 to 7. They charge $75 per lesson and that includes a board and wetsuit for the duration of the lesson. A half an hour is spent on land learning safety rules and the basics of surfing. Then an hour of the lesson is spent in the water surfing. Hahn commented that most people that take lessons are between the ages of 12 and 16. However, he said that they have given lessons to someone as young as 6 and as old as 60.
A true surfer is no stranger to the “ultimate surf forecasting site”, swellinfo.com. The website provides a five day surf forecast, allowing surfers to plan their week of surfing. The weather plays a major role on whether or not surfers hit the beach. Surfing experts are always aware of which way the wind is blowing and at what time high tide and low tide are.

Another important factor to surfers is whether or not there is a swell (when wind consistently blows over a large area of open water). When asked about the impact of waves, Hahn replied, “You’re at the mercy of the ocean. Take off work; just try to schedule yourself around swell.” Not only are the individual surfers impacted by the waves, but the surf shops are affected as well. As mentioned by Rhodes, they can sell twice the amount of surf boards on a day there is a swell. “Waves really make the difference,” he adds.
So what is International Surfing Day? Created by SURFING Magazine, it is an unofficial holiday that allows surfers to celebrate and promote their sport. The goal of the day is not only to catch some waves, but also to help clean up your favorite beach. Teamed up with the Surfrider Foundation, they organize several beach cleanups every year on this day.
Ocean City will celebrate International Surfing Day with the premiere of Beachfeast. Pro surfers will compete on the beach at the Castle in the Sand Hotel all weekend in honor of the surfing holiday. Also, the surf beaches are sure to be packed this Saturday as surfers throughout Ocean City acknowledge International Surfing Day. When asked about surfing in Ocean City, Maryland, Hahn said, “When it’s good, there’s nowhere else I’d rather surf.”

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