History of the UNCW Surf Club:
Fritzler (created: March 2004; updated: May 14, 2010)
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) Surf Club
is a young and rising club since its recent renewal in 2001. The
roots of the original Surf Club had been started in 1977 by Rik
Beitel and several of his friends. In what was one of their
finest accomplishments, Beitel
and company competed in the first All-American
National Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach, CA in
December 1977. By September 1980, the Surf Club held its first
official meeting, and was competing soon thereafter. Late that
fall, Surf Club members Andy
Wigmore and Mark Venters were both honored at the
National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) annual banquet.
Wigmore was selected to the NSSA's National Surfing Team (Wigmore
was first surfer from North Carolina to receive this honor)
while Venters was awarded the Mercury Savings and Loan
Scholarship and Bronzed Aussie Scholarship.
UNCW Surf Club alum, Brian Tracy.
Circa early 1980s.
In March 1982, the Surf Club
announced its official charter. Boasting 24 members, the Club
was officially recognized by the University and further
supported by its first advisor, Dr. Antonio Puente. In 1983, the
Club had grown to 40 members and was primarily focused on
competition. At the 1985 Record Bar Pro-Am, held in Wrightsville
Beach, Club alum Bryan Tracy took 3rd place in the Men's Amateur
Division. In early November, the Surf Club also hosted the Fall
Surf Challenge at Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach. The Surf
Club took a 1st place team finish over East Carolina University
and UNC-Chapel Hill, while taking the first three spots in the
Individual Division as well. Enjoying a few more years of
competitive success, the Surf Club capped off a beautiful decade
with a sixth place team finish at the NSSA National Scholastic
Championships in 1989.
Entering the nineties, the Surf Club
pushed members to become better surfers and jumped on juicy surf that hit the area. Surf Club alum
Mick Cotton (91-93) recalls, "Before going to UNCW I had
only been in a lineup with a few good surfers. Whenever
or wherever the surf club showed up it was like 20-30
guys who could surf great pushing each other to surf
their best." In April 1994, Jennifer Wasson, captured
first place in the Women's Open division at the NSSA
Eastern Scholastic Open Championships at Sebastian
Inlet, FL. She was also the recipient of the "Surfer's
Scholar Award" for her outstanding GPA at UNCW.
Relecting on the quality surf of the early nineties, Steve Cox ('91-'94)
of the best waves that we surfed in Wrightsville were
Halloween '91. The "Perfect Storm." Three storms
merged in the mid to north Atlantic into one super storm. We
surfed all day at the north end of Shell Island. Those
sandbars lined up perfect lefts all day long, about 3 feet
overhead and they broke for about 100 yards down the beach. Like
a machine. Perfect." Echoing Cox, Jay Burrell ('88-'92)
recalls, " ... the Halloween swell was right on. That swell
at Shell Island was one of the best waves I have ever
surfed on the East Coast. Also we caught the south
jetty during Hugo which was very memorable."
Yet as the 1990s unfolded, so did
the Club, and by the end of the decade it was all but extinct.
Following in the footsteps of alum Jason
Carlisi, and other Surf Club alumni, Pete
Erickson and Jeff Weisler revitalized the energy
of the Surf Club taking the membership from around five to over
40 people in their last two years of college. Establishing a
fine sponsorship with Sweetwater
Surf Shop, Erickson and Weisler also took the
Club Team (Carl Wallin and Bradley Sutton) to the East Coast
Scholastic Surfing Championships for two consecutive years (2002
and 2003) while
also increasing the Club's participation in various community
projects such as the Adopt-a-Thanksgiving and Tree Fest
It is the Surf Club's goal in the coming years to continue
its growth and activity. Open to students, faculty, and staff
interested in surfing, the Surf Club strives to provide a surf
oriented, recreational, instructional, and competitively-minded
organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the
world's oceans, waves and beaches. Recent activities include a
March 2004 trip to Costa Rica (PGNFA), a October 2004 trip to Hatteras, participation in the March 2005 ESA
Scholastic Championships and October 2005 Clean Water Classic,
and trips to
Puerto Rico at the
conclusion of both the 2005 and 2007 fall semesters. In April
2007, under the steadfast leadership of Will McEachern, the Club
held the Cape Fear Surf Fest. Bolstered by the success of the
event, Thomas Mangiacapre (President, 2008 - present) and
McEachern engineered another successful Surf Fest in spring
2008. And to cap things all off, the UNCW Surf Team, under the
direction of Captain Cody Leutgens, surfed to victory in the
School Tag Team event at the ESA East Coast Scholastics
Championships in New Smyrna Beach, FL. The win was a first for
UNCW at the annual Scholastics event. In the fall 2008, Dr.
Dylan McNamara joined the club as the Team Coach and immediately
began work on developing a team and preparing it for NSSA
competition. Additionally, under John Luff's direction, several
members of the Surf Club traveled to Costa Rica in December.
UNCW Surf Club in Costa
Rica, March 2004.
The Surf Club hopes to continue planning more surf trips,
continue developing a competitive travel team, and
further strengthening its
participation in community-oriented programs and activities.
So whether you’re just learning
to surf or a crusty old sailor, we would love to have you come
check us out and hopefully become a part of our prestigious
organization. We also hope that our former members will see the
Club Alumni page and share their club memories
with the current crew.