2006 CE ECSC Legends – Hall of Fame
In 2005 during the 43rd annual East Coast Surfing Championships, the Virginia Beach Jaycees established a formal distinction for the “Legends” who have played pivotal roles to the growth and success of our local surfing contest. These men and women helped shape the sport of surfing not only in Hampton Roads, but up and down the entire East Coast.
In 1963, Don Fentress was the first chairman – along with Phil McAdams – of what was then known as the “Virginia Beach Surfing Carnival.” The two had such a good time they chaired the event again in 1964 when the name was changed to the now world-known East Coast Surfing Championships.
Along with his good friend, the late Webb Brown, Don was very active in lending his networking connections, business support and personal involvement in ECSC. Rising in the ranks of Virginia Beach business circles, Don used his position within the Jaycees to help legitimize the relatively new “sport” of surfing in the eyes of skeptical residents and a dubious hospitality industry.
Don has a ceremonial Virginia license plate that reads: “ECSC 1” that was presented to him by the Jaycees in recognition of his first chairmanship of the event.
Though ECSC may have come from humble beginnings in the newly formed city of Virginia Beach during the early 1960s, Don Fentress and his contemporaries in the early Virginia Beach Jaycees, established a foundation for what ECSC has become today.
When asked how ECSC came about, Don Fentress credits his longtime friend and Beach resident, Bob Holland, for coming up with the idea. Don’s fellow VB Jaycees and their surfing friends wanted to do something for the local kids who enjoyed surfing as much as they did.
Bob Holland could be considered the first “modern” surf star of the Virginia Beach area. In more than one U.S. Surfing Championship finals, Bob was the sole representative from the entire East Coast when no one else made the cut.
Bob helped launch a revolution in sailing when he and Pete Smith ran “Smith & Holland’s Surf Shop.” The famous Hobie Alter brought one of his early Hobie Cats east for his friends to try when he came to judge an early East Coast Surfing Championships. Bob later purchased the Hobie Cat franchise for Virginia Beach, and the rest is history.
Truly one of the East Coast’s great watermen from a family of great watermen, Bob’s father, the late “Capt’n Bob” Holland, and others like Dusty Hinnant, John Smith, Babe Braithwait, Hugh Kitchin, etc., brought the art of surfing to Virginia Beach as young men and passed it down to their children and today to their grand- and great-grandchildren! Bob’s circle of friends, family and business contacts helped the fledgling sport gain a foothold, not only in Virginia Beach but up and down the Atlantic coast.
Admired by generations of surfers and non-surfers alike, Bob Holland has left a footprint in the sands of this oceanfront that decades of pounding surf won’t soon erase.
George Desgain has been surfing for about 45 years, and has been a part of ECSC since the beginning. Indeed his connection to ECSC goes back to the original 1963 “Surfing Carnival” when he entered his first surfing contest. Back then, the contest was mostly locals with a few Floridians mixed in.
Desgain has been ‘stoked’ about ECSC for many years: First as a surfer; then as a VB Jaycee organizer and ECSC chairman in 1969; and finally as a valued advisor and supporter of the Jaycees. In fact, George has participated in every ECSC event ever since and he remains “stoked” today as an ECSC Master’s contestant.
George also worked with the late Webb Brown in promoting the contest in any way they could back in the early days, and he’s seen it grow from a small beach carnival to a major beach sports festival.
The camaraderie and the fellowship found in the surfing community are very important to George, and through the years he has quietly provided the link to the past to each ECSC chairperson and committee.
To George, ECSC is like a “gathering of the clan, a reunion in many ways.”
Do you want to hear some surfing credentials? Check out this Legend inductee’s pedigree:
Bill Frierson started surfing in 1957 in California and surfed from Carlsbad to Baja Mexico. His Navy family moved to Virginia Beach in 1965 and he rode for Hobie (Alter) through Pete Smith and Bob Holland’s Surf Shop. In 1967, Bill started shaping boards for Bob White and Wave Riding Vehicles. He’s lived, surfed and owned surf shops on Oahu’s North Shore, Florida and the Outer Banks.
In 1974, Bill and a partner bought Wave Riding Vehicles. After a great run, Bill sold his half of WRV in 1997 and started his own custom-order shaping company, Frierson Designs here in Virginia Beach. Known in many surfing circles as a veritable “Stradivarius” among shapers, Bill Frierson has shaped well over 15,000 surfboards over 35 years for clients all over the world.
Bill’s stamp on Virginia Beach surfing is as broad as it is undeniable. His role in ECSC has been as a surfer, judge, retail sponsor, and advisor to the Jaycees. Bill was recently inducted to the East Coast Legends for a lifetime in the surf industry. Bill participated in the ECSC Advisory Board for several years in the 1990s, and once again helped “shape” something—the beach sports festival that we enjoy today.
Bill’s consistent message to the VB Jaycees then was “never forget that surfing is the heart of ECSC.” Those words of wisdom are evidenced this year as ECSC is now a recognized 2-Star World Qualifying event on the ASP pro surfing tour.
How does one begin to tell the tale of the legendary Pete Smith?
Pete was part of the Virginia Beach “crew” that attended the now famous “Gilgo Beach” Labor Day party on Long Island back in 1960. That party provided the seed that Pete Smith and his cohorts would eventually plant here in at the oceanfront as the “Virginia Beach Surfing Carnival” that started the East Coast Surfing Championships as we know it today.
There was a time when Pete owned the only surf shop in Virginia Beach, which led to his being considered as one of the pioneer surf shop owners on the East Coast. Pete was a major driving force behind early competitive surfing in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Pete has also worn many hats through the years with ECSC (but not like the hat “Murph the Surf” wore on his surf board once at this event back in the day, right Pete?) In his career, Pete has been a competitor, a business sponsor, an advocate for the sport, and a firebrand for surf culture here and abroad.
Today, Pete is a gracious ambassador for the sport of surfing and an inspirational testament to the power of redemption. He’s doing what he loves, enjoying his family – and even keeping his hand in another surfing retail business.