‘Call to the Wall’ more than just a competition

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Frankie Seely won the women’s open shortboard and took second in the junior women’s longboard competition at the Call to the Wall July 13-14. 

For Frankie Seely, twice is just as nice. The 16-year-old surfing prodigy added to her trophy collection earlier this month when she captured the women’s open shortboard title for the second year in a row at the 22nd “Call to the Wall” surfing contest at Surfrider Beach. More than 300 surfers from as far away as Hawaii and Santa Cruz came to compete in longboard and shortboard events on the weekend of July 13 and 14. 

And while Seely basked in the sun after her victory and a second-place finish in the junior women’s longboard, the real winners were the young boys and girls who will benefit from the annual event, which was hosted by the Malibu Boardriders Club (MBC). Together with Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, MBC in 1993 started “Call to the Wall” to help raise funds to support children inflicted with cancer; 22 years later, this summer’s two-day event featured 19 Coalition of Surf Club member clubs competing in 20 different divisions. 

During an emotional 30-minute segment on the first day, 14 kids with special needs ranging in age from five to 18 had the special opportunity to take part in the competition. The children— part of surfer Jimmy Gamboa’s THERAsurf foundation—received assistance from volunteers to paddle out into the waves. The young boys and girls received trophies and care packages that brought smiles to their faces as wide as the ocean behind them. 

“It was very inspirational,” Seely said. “It was a moving experience.” 

Founded several years ago by Gamboa and his wife, Kim, THERAsurf has touched the lives of many through the exhilaration of surfing. The opportunity for the kids to take part in one of surfing’s premier longboard events meant a lot to Gamboa, a local and avid surfer. 

“It went really well,” Gamboa said. “It’s about experiencing the family organization of longboarding and being there for the kids.” 

Gamboa pointed out what a thrill it was for the kids to surf and for the parents to see their kids surfing.

“It’s always a good time,” he said. “Something special there for everyone.” 

When it came to the competition, Malibu was also represented well. Seely, a member of the MBC, went up against surf clubs from up and down the California coast. She captured her title in “better than ideal conditions” with help from Malibu resident Carla Rowland, a popular surfer who began surfing as a young child at First Point and has been working with Seely. 

“It was great to have her help me. She helped me out a lot with strategy,” Seely said of her daily morning workouts with Rowland. “She gave me a lot of cool maneuvers to impress the judges.” 

In the finals on the second day of the contest, Seely stole the show with a tremendous performance in both shortboard and longboard. 

Altogether, Seely helped MBC accumulate 2,120 points to claim the top prize as the overall club winner. Malibu Surfing Association (MSA) took fourth place with 1,310 points. 

“I was so stoked to be there. All the great longboarders were there. This one means a lot because it was a big one in longboarding,” Seely said. “I had to put my all into it. There was some fierce competition out there. I was super happy when I got first place.” 

Other strong performances included Sean Woods, 14, of MBC who won a third consecutive title in junior men’s shortboard; Erin Ashley (MSA): 1st- W1 longboard; Alan Sarlo (MSA): 1st- men’s open shortboard and 2nd- M5 longboard; Rocky McKinnon (MBC): 1st- M3 longboard; Zander Hartman (MSA): 1st- M2 longboard; John Baker (MBC): 1st-legends longboard and Mitt Seely (MBC): 2nd- M4 longboard.