Locals only compete in El Niño waves this weekend

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Spectators enjoyed a huge beach at Rincon during last year’s competition. Photo: Branden Aroyan (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

This weekend, surfers from the 805 only will duke it out at Rincon Beach, at the 33rd annual Rincon Classic.

Unlike many sports competitions, such as the Super Bowl or March Madness, the Rincon Classic has no scheduled date. Instead, there’s an eight-week “waiting period.” Each Wednesday, contest coordinators decide whether the upcoming weekend will be the one.

This year, for the first time since 2009, they chose the first weekend.

“There’s no reason to wait when everything comes together perfectly,” said Chris Keet, the contest director. “El Niño has awoken. The new year kicked off with a bang. We’ve had a series of swells. We had storms. We had rain. We had tides. The coast got pummeled. Now, the clouds have cleared, the winds have let up and it looks like we’re going to have a classic weekend. ”

Conner Coffin, last year’s winner. Photo: Branden Aroyan

Keet and his crew obsessively check weather patterns, track storms and consult with local surf and weather forecasters before they make their decision.

When they decide to give it the green light, there’s a whole lot of scrambling involved.

“It’s a Herculean logistical feat,” said Keet. Hundreds of people are involved in putting on the competition, including 25 sponsors, medical staff and state and county park officials.

This year, competitors include local surf heroes such as Dane Reynolds, who won the classic in 2012, and Conner Coffin, who won last year and joined the World Surf League this year.