2009 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.
Webb Brown (posthumously)
A former Virginia Beach Jaycee and an original Virginia Beach “old school” surfer, Webb co-chaired the event in 1964 and was the lone event chairman in 1965 and 1966. During this time, the event was known as “Virginia Beach Surfing Carnival,” and becoming known in surfing circles as “the east coast surfing championships”; the nickname stuck. Webb convinced a friend (who later lead the world’s largest advertising agency in New York City, Ogilvy & Mather) to design the early ECSC T-shirts, thus setting the tone for the fashion tradition these collector’s items have become. In 1992, Webb played an active role in bringing back early surf pioneers for the 30th Anniversary event. Over the years, Webb held “unofficial” meetings in his home to rally many “originals” into taking a larger role in making sure Virginia Beach and ECSC remember the sport’s humble but soulful beginnings.
Bob Holland, Jr.
According to one surfing authority, “if competitive surfers were college basketball teams, Bobby Holland would be Duke and UNC rolled into one.” Another contemporary praised him, “Come finals time, whether at ECSC, the ESA Easterners or the US Championships, Bobby will be in the mix.” Admirer s and competitors noted not just his physical ability but also Holland’s “mind of a champion.” Mild and easygoing onshore, Holland continues a long family tradition of being a fierce competitor in the water. According to Paul West, head of the US Surfing Federation, “To say he is the ultimate competitor is almost faint praise. In fact, Surfing Magazine once listed the top 10 ESA rivalries of all time. On that list was Bobby Holland versus David Sledge from Atlantic Beach, NC, who shares so many of Bobby’s talents.”
One last anonymous observation: “Bobby does not blow his horn; he lets his surfing do the talking.”
Wes Laine is routinely credited with putting modern East Coast surfing on the “map.” At 6’4”, the gangly youngster from Virginia Beach was the first East Coaster in the Top 16 pro rankings. Laine also won the Eastern Surfing Association’s Junior Men’s’ Title in 1978 (which today is considered a launching pad to the pro tour).
Wes has surfed at most of the “big ones.” He placed second at Bell’s Beach, Australia and the World Cup at Sunset Beach, Hawaii. The Op Pro event in Huntington, Calif., established Wes as an all-around performer. Determined to conquer Hawaii, he spent every winter since 1976 in the Islands and stood out at Sunset, Backdoor and Waimea.
Laine remained on tour until 1988, when he took a sales position in the surf apparel industry at home in Virginia Beach. Laine still makes the annual trek to the North Shore and remains a standout at sizable Backdoor and Off-the-Wall.
Ron has been instrumental as a committee member for numerous ECSC events while a Jaycee. Ron Swan is perhaps best known for helping maintain the event while it was “exiled” from the oceanfront to Camp Pendleton during a less hospitable era for surfing at the resort’s oceanfront. Ron is often credited for “keeping the flame alive” when Jaycee organizing interest declined and apathy infected the local surfing community. Ron played a major role in lobbying the “powers that be” to bring ECSC back to its rightful place at the oceanfront. It’s fitting that near the very stage where he’ll receive his honor once stood ECSC’s original home — the old 5th St. Steel Pier, Now a successful businessman, Swan has led by example showing the “old guard” that surfers can and do grow up to be successful in chosen fields and professions.
While not a Virginia Beach local, Kevin Gaydosh has been involved with ECSC since 1987. As one of a group of visionary Jaycee leaders in the late 80s and early 90s (many of whom went on to Chair ECSC themselves), Kevin helped shape ECSC’s evolution from a large Jaycee project into a legitimate sports and entertainment “festival.” The resulting format of the 1990s appealed to a wider audience by adding new beach sports events and more musical entertainment while still paying homage to and demystify the sport of surfing for visitors and locals alike.
Gaydosh helped the all-volunteer Jaycees incorporate modern marketing, publicity, and sponsorship practices into running the event. The Jaycees’ effort paid off: ECSC was regularly named a “Top 20 Event in the Southeast” and the event improvements helped ECSC gain recognition as a tourism “asset” rather than a detraction. Gaydosh smiles every time he sees a surfboard used to promote tourism to Virginia Beach or the Commonwealth.