5th Annual Sweetwater Surf Fest heats up at Wrightsville Beach

Reported by Gavin Johnson - bio|email
Posted by Claire Hosmann - email
Updated by Laura Sinacori - email

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT)- Professional surfers from around the world headed to Wrightsville Beach this weekend for the Fifth Annual Reef-Sweetwater Surf Fest.

96 surfers ranging in age from 12 to 35 years old competed for a piece of the $20,000 prize pool.

Mason Barnes said he's glad he's able to surf so close to home.

"It's nice usually we're going out of town competing," said Barnes. "It's nice to be able to ride my bike to the beach and do the contest instead of going far."

Barnes finished fourth in the over 15 age division and is hoping the competition will help give him and other local surfers recognition.

"Most people here since it's on the east coast there's not much exposure and there's plenty of good surfers here, so it brings recognition to a lot of people," said Barnes.

Surf Fest organizer Tony Butler said the competition brought in thousands of dollars to the local economy.

"Probably 50% more than what we'd probably make if we were having a normal summer weekend," said Tony Butler, who co-owns Sweetwater Surf Shop. "It helps our business and hopefully other businesses as well."

But Butler said the most important thing about Surf Fest is giving kids the opportunity of a lifetime.

"It gives the kids something to inspire to," said Butler.  "They see these pro surfers in the magazines and in videos and a lot of them aren't able to see them surf live. So it brings them right here."

Organizers tell WECT they're already making plans for next year's competition.

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