The lead-up to the 2023 Malibu Longboard Championship was almost perfect. Early October Southern California brought 80 degree plus weather and clear skies. The Pacific was warm, blue, and inviting. The sun was out, the beach coolers were stocked up and iced down, the tourists had left town, and locals were finally ready to enjoy their summer.
This time last year, every point break south of Point Conception was being lit up by a late-season hurricane swell. And thanks to that southerly push, Malibu was overhead and perfect for this same contest. On finals day, competitors were sitting wide on Second Point, wrapping around First Point, and hanging ten all the way through The Cove. It looked like one of those days you would scribble on a blank page in your notebook when you weren’t paying attention in freshman-year English.
But like we said, the lead-up was only almost perfect. The report during the contest holding period lacked one important thing: waves. The charts topped off at a whopping 1-foot, without much end in sight. They had to hold the contest, but in what?
Both competitors and organizers were worried. It’s hard to hold a surf contest when there’s no surf. Still, they stayed positive. Surfers and event management all gathered on the sand every morning at the crack of dawn, optimistic the sun would rise and illuminate a scene of liquid corduroy wrapping around Malibu’s iconic point. They showed up on the first day, and it didn’t happen. They showed up on the second day, and it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen again on the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that too.
Then finally, on Sunday, it did happen. Everyone woke up to perfect, waist-high-plus waves wrapping to the beach. We couldn’t have been more ready to crack into some Squeezes and enjoy the show.
But then the fog rolled in. The bank was so thick that judges wouldn’t even see the shoreline, so the contest was on hold until it cleared. It didn’t clear in the morning, it didn’t burn off in the afternoon, and it didn’t blow away in the evening. Things had to wait another day.
Thankfully the official welcome party was still set for that night, so everyone had something to take their minds off the rapidly closing contest window. We hosted it alongside our pals at Aviator Nation at their killer setup along the PCH, just across from the street from the historic Malibu Sport Fishing Pier Live Bait & Charter Boats sign. We stocked the fridges with all the Squeezes we could fit in there and threw in a few iced-down coolers just for good measure. Our friends at The Charities absolutely killed it on the tunes. Our own Grant Noble even showed up to get in on the party, and he joined everyone else in dancing through the night with a Squeeze in hand. Everyone had a spectacular night, and any worries for the rest of the contest were left at the door.
And everyone forgot to pick up those same worries on their way out early in the early hours of the morning apparently, because the beach was packed with eager viewers Monday morning. Optimism for everything working out was at an all-time high. And they did. The rising sun lit up a lineup littered with perfect waist-high-plus peelers, and there wasn’t a cloud or fog bank in sight. It was on, and the longboarders were just about sprinting with excitement up the point, ready for their turn in the water.
We were of course there with a cooler full of Squeezes ready to take in a full day’s worth of spectacular surfing, and the 2023 Malibu Longboard Championship absolutely delivered. Surfers from the US, Hawaii, France, and even the UK and the Philippines all competed in classic Malibu conditions. The sand was packed with spectators, and everyone was just happy to lean back on the famous Miki Dora wall with a Squeze in hand and take in some good surfing while also having a good time.
At the end of the day, it was Hawaiian Kai Sallas and Malibu regular Soleil Erricco who came out on top for both the men’s and women’s divisions. It was a back-to-back, repeat victory for Soleil, who notched her third total victory at Malibu, and life-long dream achieved for tour veteran Kai Sallas. Overall, it was an incredible day of surfing, and we’re so stoked we got to watch every surfer perform brilliantly.
The official debriefing all went down on the WSL’s Cali Squeeze post-show, which you can watch here if you want a wave-by-wave rundown. It was an absolute treat to partner up with our friends at the WSL for a highly entertaining day of surfing. It doesn’t get much better than sharing some cold Squeezes on the hot sand with good friends and better surf. We already can’t wait to run it all back again next year.