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By Peggy Vance, SCOF executive director

Looking for something fun to do? Look no further, because the 43rd annual San Clemente Ocean Festival is coming to the beach on July 20-21 at the San Clemente Pier. Athletes, friends and families are invited to join us and enjoy time together with fun and exciting athletic competitions, great food, outdoor activities and live entertainment.

The theme of this event—families and lifeguards engaged together in fun activities on the beach—has been the basis of the success of the Ocean Festival and has kept it unique and beyond imitation. The event is run by a volunteer board of directors and their Executive, Athletic and Surf Directors, who pool their talents to continue to deliver “The Greatest Show on Surf” with the help of hundreds of community volunteers who provide manpower during the two-day event.

There is limited parking, but don’t fret; you can take the train right to the Pier and avoid traffic altogether, or take advantage of the free covered parking and shuttles from the Outlets at San Clemente. Entry into the event is free, and you can start out both days with a delicious pancake breakfast on the beach prepared by our San Clemente Lifeguards, with all proceeds going to the San Clemente Surf Lifesaving Association.

Car enthusiasts, take a walk onto the Pier for a look at the Woody Car Exhibit (different cars each day), where you can see lovingly salvaged and restored wood-sided wagons, each with its own style and character, sponsored by Irvine Subaru. There will be a Fishing Derby & Clinic for all ages on Saturday, sponsored by Dana Wharf Sportfishing. Not into cars or fishing, but you like to shop? You can view the beach activities from above at the Ocean Art Show that stretches along Parque Del Mar, where you can find something special to take home with you in remembrance of the great time you had at the event.

In the Lifeguard Competition on Saturday, ocean lifeguards will race in multiple events to score points toward an overall championship worth $3,800 in prize money and includes the Surf Race, Rescue Relay, Surf Ski, Paddleboard Rescue Relay, International & American Ironman’s and 10’6” Paddleboard Sprint, plus Junior Lifeguard additions, including Beach Flags. In addition, there is the ever-popular National Doryman Association Races in which two-person teams paddle 300-pound fiberglass boats in and out through the crashing surf. The Dolphin Dash beach run is for children 12-and-under, sponsored by Clif Kid, with all participants receiving an Ocean Festival medallion.

New this year is the Pier Bowl Surf Classic, sponsored by Hobie Surf Shop for short and long board riders. Divisions include Men’s 25 & under and 26 & over. Women’s open. The ‘Groms Rule’ Surf Contest, sponsored by Rip Curl, will include the “Push-In” division for boys and girls ages seven 7 and under.

Saturday events include the all-ages Fishing Derby, Lifeguard Competition, Dolphin Dash Kid’s Beach Run, rounded off by a free beach concert performance by Dead Men Don’t Surf at 6 p.m.

Sunday events include exciting and fun-filled races for everyone, continuation of the Groms Rule Surf Contest, Sand Sculpting Competitions and the Great Rubber Duck Race, plus the New Tandem Boogie Bodyboarding Contest.

Beach Events include the 5K Beach Run sponsored by Life Time, Biathlon, Open Ocean Paddle, One Mile Ocean Swim( men’s and women’s), Run-Swim-Run, SUP Sprint Races and Splash & Dash Relay.

In the new Tandem Boogie Bodyboarding Contest, sponsored by BullyBoard, 2-person teams will be facing off for some creative board-riding that will surely be a crowd pleaser. It will feature three heats of seven Tandem Boogie Teams competing for a chance to make the finals.

Families can also head to the Youth Pavilion, south of the Pier, where there will be crafts and games, as well as demonstrations and live performances for all ages to enjoy.  Stop by the free Body Boarding and Body Surfing Clinics just south of the Youth Pavilion on Saturday and learn about rip currents and the how-to’s of catching a wave.

Sponsor booths will have information, activities and goodies to share with everyone.  Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar will have a food court at the base of the Pier with a variety of treats to tickle your taste buds. Saturday evening, pull up your beach chair, towel or blanket and enjoy the free concert featuring Dead Men Don’t Surf, sponsored by Sheckler Foundation, as you watch the sun set behind Dana Point.

The San Clemente Ocean Festival has grown into a “tradition” for many within our community, the inland empire, and as far-reaching as the East Coast, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.  We thank San Clemente’s incredibly dedicated lifeguards, watching over all of us as we enjoy the weekend’s events.

Net proceeds from the event’s activities and ever-popular T-shirt sales enable us to support many local organizations and programs benefiting families in San Clemente, including Adopt-A-Class field trips to the Ocean Institute, Summer Beach Concerts, San Clemente Lifeguard programs, scholarships for local students and more.

To our sponsors and volunteers, thank you for all your hard work and support. To those who will be joining us for the first time, or have made the Ocean Festival an annual event, we hope you will agree that it truly is “The Greatest Show On Surf”!  For more information and complete event schedules, please visit our website at oceanfestival.org.

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