This is the 5th year that the South Bay surfing community has come together in October to spend a day celebrating the life of Jimmy Miller and it’s one of my very favorite days of the year. In the spirit of Jimmy, the surf contest that is now known as “the Jimmy” is as rewarding a surf contest as exists anywhere. It’s pretty safe to bet that the best surfer will not win this contest. It’s not that kind of a contest. It’s a team event but you don’t get to pick your team. Heck – you don’t even get to ride your surfboard. It’s even possible you won’t get to choose the surfboard you will ride and the one that is chosen for you will be a piece of crap and a huge challenge (to put it mildly). You could win this contest having never before stood up on a wave in your life – and did I already say I think it’s the best surf contest of the year each year.
There ends up being about 200 competitors in the contest. Each competitor is placed on a 5 person team that is supposed to consist of at least one Pro-Surfer (or semi-pro, or almost-pro, or could’ve been-pro…you get the idea) and 3 others of good, to not so good ability, and then the 5th person on the team is a new surfer or a super grom. The little bit of insight I have into how the teams are put together suggests that over a couple glasses of wine Saturday night before the Sunday morning start – Jeff Miller (Jimmy’s younger brother) turns into Dr. Jekyll mad scientist as he pairs up people based on their names rhyming, or their first names all starting with the same letter, or the fact that their personalities mix like oil and water or some other whacky theory that they belong together. The result is that the early morning starts off with lot’s of – “you got to be kidding me” or “seriously I’m on his/her team?” or ”how did they end up together”. The good natured trash talking starts as soon as the teams post on the contest board around 7am and doesn’t end until the final heat ends at 5pm-ish. The competition can get serious in the water but the judges reward the spirit not necessarily the performance, so by the time the winning team is announced at the after party there’s nothing but laughs and smiles all around.
I consider my life better for having had the opportunity to know, surf with, and look up to Jimmy Miller. He truly made every day that I bumped into him better and anytime I was was in the water with him the ocean was more alive, a brighter blue, warmer, crisper, and cleaner. I think it’s amazing that on this day each October so many other people get a piece of that thru this contest.
Thank you Jeff, Jim, Nancy and all the others that make it happen. We’re proud to be a small part of it.