Malibu Surfing Association wins Memorial Day contest

The Malibu Surfing Association longboarding club team took first place for the first time at the Santa Cruz Longboard Union Memorial Day Classic during the holiday weekend.

For the first time in team history, the Malibu Surfing Association is victorious at the Santa Cruz Longboard Union Memorial Day Classic.

By Stephen Dorman/Special to The Malibu Times

After two decades of traveling to Santa Cruz and coming home empty handed, the Malibu Surfing Association was finally able to break through for a victory at Steamer Lane.

The MSA, a competitive surf club comprised of male and female athletes from in and around Malibu, defeated more than a dozen other teams at the 21st annual Santa Cruz Longboard Union Memorial Day Classic over the holiday weekend. Despite capturing the Coalition of Surfing Clubs overall team championship in 2004, the MSA has never had much success competing in the Northern California surf contest, and had never finished in first place.

“We’ve always been known for having some of the best surfers on the coast,” said team captain Carla Rowland. “But when it comes to contests, especially away from home, we don’t really shine.”

On Memorial Day, it was the MSA that was laughing all the way to the winner’s podium. In fact, with the sun shining and the waves barely reaching waist high at the coldwater break, Rowland said the conditions seemed more like a session at Surfrider Beach than a day on the North Coast.

“That was kind of weird,” Rowland said. “Not what you’d expected being at Steamer Lane.”

Although she didn’t surf in the contest, Rowland said the thrill of putting together a winning team in Santa Cruz was an amazing experience.

“To win first and actually come home with a trophy not having competed was kind of hard,” she said. “But to get that trophy and have it be first place and represent our entire team, it kind of meant more to me than any personal trophy I could have won.”

Established in 1961, the MSA is one of the oldest surf clubs in the world. Becoming a member is not easily achieved. Any surfer who wants to join (living in Malibu is not a prerequisite) must first be sponsored by an existing member. Once a prospective member is sponsored, they then have to go through a 12-month probation process and attend the club’s monthly meetings. Upon completion of probation, the sponsored member then must receive two-thirds of a blind vote before one can be considered an official member. If the prospect gets voted in, it’s like the Mafia-he or she is in for life.

“We want a surfer of above-average caliber for his or her age level, someone who is familiar with Malibu and surfs Malibu on a regular basis; and someone who has the respect of the club members and Malibu regulars,” said MSA president Steve Mahr.

“I would say we have a 90 percent success rate. If you don’t get in, it’s because you didn’t participate, and/or you didn’t earn the respect of people in the water.”

In Malibu, there are actually two surf clubs-the Malibu Board Riders being the other-that compete year around in the CSC contests. This year the CSC will hold seven officially sanctioned events along the California coast, with two events (Doheny and Santa Cruz) having already been completed. The MSA logged a fourth-place finish at the Doheny contest in late January, with the Board Riders coming in 10th.

The next CSC contest will be hosted by the Board Riders and held at Surfrider Beach July 23 and 24. To obtain more information on future contest dates, visit the CSC Web site at