Surfers answer the ‘Call’

Four-time national longboard champ Josh Mohr, pictured, and the cast of the new surf film "One California Day" will be at the Call to The Wall event this weekend.

Four-time national longboard champ Josh Mohr and the entire cast of the new surf film “One California Day” will be at the 16th Annual Malibu Board Riders Club event, “Call to The Wall,” this weekend.

By Ben Marcus / Special to The Malibu Times

First Point Malibu will once again be the sole domain of some of California’s best longboarders this weekend. The 16th Annual Malibu Boardriders Club “Call to the Wall” is bringing more than 300 surfers from 14 different surf clubs from up and down the coast for two days of non-stop surfing, paddling and tandem competition. The theme of this year’s event is “Clean Ocean,” and all proceeds from the volunteer event will go to the Ronald McDonald House for children battling cancer.

The roots of Call to the Wall go back to 1992, when the Malibu Boardriders started a longboard surf contest in conjunction with the Bud Light Ocean Sports Festival. The original event had three divisions and around 100 competitors-12 of them women. That same year, the Boardriders inaugurated Day at the Beach, which brought children fighting cancer, their siblings and counselors from the Ronald McDonald House to the beach to “enjoy the outdoors, learn about the ocean and generally do kid stuff,” said Boardriders Competition Director Will Buckley.

As the popularity of Day at the Beach-and longboard contests-grew, in 1997 the Boardriders turned their popular longboard contest into a fundraising cause to support Day at the Beach. The number of competitors had doubled to 200 by 1997, and the contest was dubbed “Call to the Wall,” referring to the Malibu Wall, once a part of the Adamson estate, which has served as a windbreak, sun shade, clothesline, message board, wailing wall, back scratcher, bottle opener, wax scraper and surfboard prop for generations of Malibu surfers.

In 1994, Nachum Shifren-the surfing rabbi-founded a paddle race to honor Tommy Zahn, one of the best surfer-paddler-lifeguard-watermen from Los Angeles of the 1940s and ’50s. Since 1997, the Tommy Zahn Paddleboard Race has been a cornerstone of Call to the Wall.

In 2006, the Call to the Wall burst at the seams with 360 competitors, and the 26 hours it took to run all the heats proved too much for the all-volunteer competition team. This year, the Call to the Wall will have 300 surfers and 12 tandem surfers competing from 14 teams in six men’s divisions, three women’s divisions, two children’s divisions (ages 8 to 14), one division for surfers 70 and older, and one tandem division. There will also be a team paddle relay in which 12 teams of six paddlers will relay on 11-foot surfboards around a quarter mile course for team points. The Team Extreme Challenge is a three-person relay where one participant runs a one-mile course, the second participant paddles an 11-foot surfboard for a half-mile and the third participant swims approximately 300 yards. The Team Extreme also earns participating club team points.

In the 15 years of the Call to the Wall, the overall team title has been won by the Malibu Boardriders Club, Malibu Surfing Association, Doheny Longboard Surfing Association, Swami’s Surf Club and WindanSea Surf Club. It is very difficult to be the overall team winner and nearly impossible to repeat. “I believe MBC, DLSA and Windansea are the only teams to achieve back-to-back wins,” Buckley said. “Any finish in the top six is a big accomplishment.”

The entry fee is $100 per surfer and each of the teams competing will have about 24 surfers. This year, the teams competing are Big Stick Surfing Association, Blackie’s Classic, Coronado Surfing Association, Doheny Longboard Surfing Association, Malibu Boardriders Club, Malibu Surfing Association, Oceanside Longboard Surfing Club, Pacific Beach Surf Club, Pismo Beach Longboarders, Santa Barbara Surf Club, Sunset Cliffs Surf Club, Swami’s Surf Club, Ventura Surf Club and WindanSea Surf Club.

On Saturday night, there will be a screening of the surf film, “One California Day,” on a portable big screen on the Malibu Pier. Admission to the movie is $10 and tickets can be purchased online at or at the beach on Saturday during the surf contest.