C Street Classic Surf Contest Stokes Ventura

33rd annual event dazzles the coast this weekend

By Lori Denman

Photos by Tim Hanson

Surfing’s best are scheduled to dazzle crowds at the 33rdannual C Street Classic surf contest on California Street beach this Saturday, September 15.


Set your alarm clock and pack for the day, the contest kicks off at 6:30am on Saturday and runs until 4pm. The event, featuring surfers of all ages, will take place on the beach located at the Promenade and Figueroa Street.

Nancy Balogh, a local surfer of Ventura is the volunteer coordinator of the event. She also handles hospitality. Following a surf session last Sunday, she spoke with of Citizens Journal about this weekend’s contest.

“Many give credit to Betty Elder for starting the event, which was first called The Arden Taylor (which benefitted Taylor, who had cancer),” she said. “The event was then passed onto members of the Ventura Surf Club.”

Longtime locals and semi-pros from near and far between the ages of youth to 80 will gather for the contest, including Richard Dietz who participated in the first contest over 30 years ago.


Many surfers are excited to compete in the “Super Legends” portion of the contest which features those who are ages 70 and older. Addtionally, Beth O’Rourke is from Malibu and competes regularly and there also may be tandem surfing with couples.

The contest is led by a team of organizers. This includes Garret Drolen, site coordinator; Bruce Douglas, a major player; Andy Sassen, Ventura Surf Club President and Dellon Stromnen, coordinator. Contestants paid $75 each to compete. Many are also members of the Ventura Surf Club, which meets the second Tuesday of each month at The Tavern.

The C Street Classic is enjoyed by the Coalition, an organization of surf clubs in California that holds contests along the state’s coast. Jimmy Gray, a talented and well-liked local surfer is the Coalition Team Captain for Ventura.


“This is one of the most popular surf contests in California,” Balogh said with pride. “It’s a really cool grassroots surf contest that has not changed much over the years. It is what it has always been, which is a true longboard surf contest. We added shortboard because we wanted to expand and bring in new talent and blood. We also know that’s what the younger kids like to do.”

The local surf community lost a longtime friend and shaper, John Birges this year. There will be a “paddle out” ceremony, where surfers (literally) paddle out into the ocean and form a circle, creating a time of reflection. This is held at 4pm. Evan Trauntvein is helping to organize the paddle out for John Birgis.

There is a pre-party for the surf contest at Topa Topa Brewery on Sept. 14 from 5 to 8pm, where a portion of the sales will be donated to the Ventura Surf Club. There is also an after-party following the contest on Sept. 16 at Leashless Brewing on 585 E. Thompson Blvd. at 6pm.

The proceeds benefit local charities including The Boys & Girls Club, the Surfrider Foundation and the Scholastic Surf Team.

“We promote and perpetuate the art of surfing,” Balogh added. “Funds help different groups including local organizations that promotes surfing like the Scholastic Team or the Best Day Foundation, a group that teaches autistic children how to surf for therapy and fun. And funds go towards environmental causes. We do a lot for keeping the water clean.”


Lori Denman has been a professional journalist since 1996. She has worked as associate editor for the Los Angeles Daily News TODAY Magazines and has freelanced for LA Weekly, Surfline.com and more. She is now the Ventura reporter for Citizens Journal.

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