Old is new again at Hermosa Beach Hotdogger in Hermosa Beach
by Ryan McDonald
Ed Solt remembers what it felt like when kids embracing of old-school surfing style were mocked and scorned in the South Bay. Solt may be out of high school now, but he still gets a bit of a thrill seeing a younger generation of surfers embrace this older style.
Solt is the organizer of the Hermosa Beach Hotdogger Championship, a surf contest sponsored by Subaru Pacific and designed to celebrate the mid-‘60s “Golden Age” of longboarding. Heats get underway at 7 a.m. on the south side of the Hermosa Pier this Sunday, and one of the things that Solt is most excited about for this year’s contest is the way he has seen younger generations abandoning epoxy potato chips for fiberglass logs.
“The younger kids are gravitating to this, and it’s a trip. The kids are so stoked on the single-fin,” Solt said.
Among the youth who will be participating Sunday is Hermosa resident Kevin Elliot. Growing up, Elliot followed his peers through traditional pastimes like Hermosa Beach Little League. But when it came to surfing, he settled on “the traditional longboarding route.” More and more of his friends are now catching up.
“It’s really cool to have a contest like the hotdogger, bringing back traditional judging and competing. We have such a cool event, where it’s only retro boards. It’s a fun time down at the beach and cool to bring longboarding, traditional longboarding, back to Hermosa,” he said.
Solt and fellow surfer Sean O’Brien recently resurrected the Bay Cities Surf Club, which was first organized in the ‘60s. Surf clubs fell out of favor with the “shortboard revolution” later that decade, but their fun-loving, easygoing approach to contests is part of the animating spirit of the Hotdogger.
The contest has made some concessions to the changing times. This year, for example, the contest’s cash purse of $3,500 will be equally split between men and women. But other aspects remain decidedly retro. This year’s celebrity judge is legendary David Nuuhiwa, and the contest after party, to be held at Naja’s in Redondo Beach, will feature the premiere of an archival film about Hermosa surf photographer Leroy Grannis, directed by Bryce Lowe-White.
Hermosa is the ideal location for the contest because of its history as the historic center of surfboard manufacturing, Solt said. For next year’s contest, Solt hopes to stage a two-day event and involve the Hermosa Beach Historical Society and local shapers.