The East Coast Surfing Championships was originally a party held in the summer of 1961 in an area of Long Island, New York called Gilgo Beach. The party was a small gathering thrown together by some wealthy parents for their surfing teenagers. Back then, surfing was a novelty or curiosity to most of the East Coast population. As more people began surfing, plans for the 1962 party at Gilgo Beach were more intensified.
The second party was called “The East Coast Surfing Championships” and was publicized only by word-of-mouth. It was held at Gilgo Beach on September 7th, 1962. Bob Holland, Pete Smith and Butch Maloney were among those from the Virginia Beach Surfing community in attendance.
By the third year, the reputation of the event reached surfing fans up and down the East Coast. Virginia Beach was fast becoming a prime surfing community, and was once again represented by Holland and Smith among others.
Just a few weeks earlier on August 24th, 1963, in Virginia Beach, the first Virginia Beach Surfing Carnival was held by the Virginia Beach Junior Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Virginia Beach Surfing Club and local surf board dealers. At the 1963 gilgo Beach party, the case was made by the Virginia Beach Crowd to move the event to Virginia because it was a more central location and easier to get to for East Coast surfers from Maine to Florida. Virginia Beach was already well known and had a better chance to truly become an annual East Coast Championship contest.
1965 worked all this out and people were heading to Virginia Beach for nicer weather and more consistent waves. The name “Virginia Beach Surfing Carnival” was dropped in favor of “The East Coast Surfing Championships.”
As the Contest evolved, more events were added, and thus the name it is today, “The East Coast Surfing Championships and Beach Sports Festival.”
For purposes of record keeping and clarity, the 47 years of ECSC are defined only from the First Jaycee sponsored surfing event in August 1963. The Virginia Beach event began one year after the Bell’s Beach Classic in Australia… recognized as the world’s oldest surfing competition. The Virginia Beach event later absorbed the unofficial Gilgo Beach contest and adopted its name. Thus today ECSC is the second-longe4st, continuously-run surfing contest in the world.