Traveling surfers are known to sojourn to some of the most remote tropical atolls in search of their own personal Shangri-La – warm water, perfect surf, and not a soul in the lineup. An inconvenient truth is that venturing to such places means encountering rural, undeveloped towns and villages where creature comforts like modern medicine have yet to penetrate. That’s the gist of Dr. Dave Jenkins’ story that led him to found SurfAid over 18 years ago. Ever since, the international non-profit has been instrumental in disaster relief in some of the most remote regions of Indonesia, and their mother and child health programs have saved countless lives.
Some years ago, SurfAid came up with a strategy to raise funds for their work in Indonesia by activating surf communities in the U.S. and Australia. SurfAid Cups, as they’re called, are events within events – plugging into existing surf contests like the MSA Classic at Malibu and other contests at some of the best waves in the U.S. and Oz.
The parallel is a poignant one. While the backdrops of SurfAid’s work in rural Indonesia are some of the best waves in the world, the organization’s fundraising efforts in Australia and stateside include opportunities to get waves at famous breaks virtually to yourself. Not a bad gig.
The way SurfAid Cups work is simple. During a pause in the action of the primary event, the SurfAid Cup runs a relay of sorts. Each member of participating teams gets a few waves to themselves in celebration of all the money they raised in the run-up to the contest. Not to mention, each team gets to pick a pro or celebrity surfer for their team – whichever team raises the most gets first pick. Over the years, SurfAid Cup events have raised tens if not hundreds of thousands for SurfAid’s numerous programs in Indo, and for the first time, SurfAid will host one just down the street from their U.S. headquarters in Encinitas during Shaper Studios’ Self Shape Festival at Seaside Reef on Saturday.
While team signups have already come and gone, there’s still time to throw some support behind teams that will be competing this weekend, or, if you’re keen, to start planning for another event like the upcoming one in Malibu.