Santa Cruz, California will be officially dedicated as a World Surfing Reserve this Saturday in a series of beachfront celebrations and ceremonies. The heralded Santa Cruz surf zone joins just three other sites to claim such status–Malibu in California, Ericeira in Portugal, and Manly Beach in Australia. The dedication ceremony will officially establish the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve, covering approximately seven miles of surf-rich, environmentally diverse coastline.
Santa Cruz received its approval as a World Surfing Reserve in February 2011. Its application ranked highly on all World Surfing Reserve criteria: wave quality and consistency, unique environmental characteristics, surf culture and history, and community support. More than 23 surf spots dot the region’s coastline, with a handful of iconic locations such as Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point. The cold-water marine environment not only provides a playground for surfers, but also provides habitat for one of the most robust coastal and marine ecosystems on the planet. Santa Cruz’s importance in the history of surfing is undeniable, as it was the birthplace of surfing on the North American continent and played a pivotal role in the creation and development of the surfing wetsuit, which opened up surfing to new regions around the world.
“I can’t think of a more deserving location than Santa Cruz,” said the city’s most notable icon, Jack O’Neill, who invented the surfing wetsuit so he and his friends could surf the frigid waters of Northern California back in the ’50s and ’60s. “It’s got so many amazing surf spots, a wonderful surf community, and it’s just a beautiful stretch of coast. The World Surfing Reserve designation will be a great way to help preserve the area.”
An evening fundraiser celebration will kick off the dedication events on Friday, April 27th at the Cocoanut Grove, which will feature live music, as well as an “Evolution of the Wetsuit” fashion show, among other entertainment. On Saturday April 28th a morning ceremony at Pleasure Point will begin at 10am with a Native American blessing followed by a mass paddle out to celebrate the Reserve and pledge a commitment the conservation of Santa Cruz’s coast and ocean. On Saturday afternoon, a ceremony will be held at Steamer Lane beginning at 1pm, which will include the introduction of the Santa Cruz Local Stewardship Council and Ambassadors, the unveiling of the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve booklet and plaque, and more.
“Surfing is a key part of our culture and lifestyle in Santa Cruz,” said Jim Littlefield, Chair of the Local Stewardship Council, the group that will oversee the Reserve. “We have a long-standing reputation as a place with excellent waves and leading surfers, a vibrant and innovative surf culture, a legally-protected marine environment, and a strong community identity with surfing, all translating into solid community support for the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve.”
At the afternoon event, the members of the Local Stewardship Council will sign a plan that has been drafted to guide the management of the newly established Reserve. The plan will include how the group will address coastal threats that may face Santa Cruz, how they will continue to educate others about the tremendous value of surfing resources, and how they will continue and build stewardship for the area.
“The establishment of the Santa Cruz World Surfing Reserve will formally recognize the close relationship between surfers and the ocean and promote the long-term preservation of our irreplaceable coastline for the benefit of the entire community,” said Hilary Bryant, Vice Mayor of Santa Cruz and Local Stewardship Council member. “It also acknowledges how the sport of surfing, and Santa Cruz’s exceptional surf breaks, are of undeniable value to our community’s economy.”
Tickets for the evening celebration on Friday are available online at worldsurfingreserves.org. All of Saturday’s festivities are free and open to the public. Residents and visitors are cordially invited to attend this historic occasion.