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By Jake Howard

Couldn’t we all use a little more peace, love and understanding these days? If you answered yes to that question, you’re probably going to want to post up at Salt Creek this weekend for the annual Cosmic Creek Challenge.

A “retro-style” surf contest that pays homage to the creative minds and designs of the 1970s and 1980s, the Cosmic Creek Challenge takes place May 20-21 at Salt Creek and features its own unique format. Not just your run-of-the-mill surf competition, surfers have the opportunity to sample a variety of period equipment and participate in some throwback shenanigans. To borrow some words from Jimi Hendrix, “Have you ever been experienced?”

The event features four division: locals, creators and innovators, pros, and new for this year, a “body surf expression session.” The local and pro divisions all have to draw cards before their respective heats to determine what board they’ll be riding. Some boards fly, others are dogs; it’s just all the luck of the draw.

The Creators & Innovators division is slightly different in that a number of well-known surfboard shapers have committed to making and riding their own boards the contest. Inspired by the ’70s and ’80s funk, a few of the shapers that will be on hand include Britt Merrick of Channel Islands; Gary Larson of Hobie Surfboards; Dan Bohne of Infinity Surfboards; Donald Brink; Danny Hess; Chris Christenson; Tyler Warren; Travis Reynolds; Jason Bennett of Chemistry Surfboards; Tim Stamps; Cole Simler; and Mike Walters. Mark Cunningham and Kane Wilcox will be headlining the Body Surf Expression Session.

Even if you don’t reckon yourself an aficionado on a single-fin or twin, there is still plenty of reason to come down to Dana Point and shake your tail feathers. Local vendors will be dishing out good eats all day, including food by Shwack and coffee by Stumptown Coffee Roasters. And on Saturday night the Bluff Park above Salt Creek will be like a mini Woodstock with live tunes belted out by DIIV a Cosmonauts. After School Special will be supplying the tunes on the sand all day Saturday.

“It’s fun. It’s groovy. It’s grassroots. It’s an opportunity for everyone in the area to come down and have some fun at the beach,” said Eric Diamond, the mastermind behind the contest. “We’ve tried to make sure that there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re an older guy that grew up on single fins, or a grom that’s checking it out for the first time, the Cosmic is something both older and younger surfers can get involved in. And with the live music on Saturday night, it’s an epic family affair.”

This is the 16th annual Cosmic Creek Challenge. Find out more at

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