top of page


History of the International

Surf Festival


The International Surf Festival (ISF) was formed in 1962 to organize a beach festival for the beach cities.  Prior to this time, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach all had their own individual beach festivals which often competed with each other.  The ISF was a joint effort by these three cities, their respective chambers of commerce, and the County of Los Angeles.  The initial funding for this festival was provided by those entities with no commercial sponsorship.  A few years later, the ISF committee was approached by the Daily Breeze, who offered financial assistance and advertising in exchange for being named the title sponsor for the event.


In 1978, Proposition 13 was passed by the California voters.  As a result local governmental agencies were facing severe budget cuts.  At this time it was decided to supplement the ISF funding from the Daily Breeze with commercial sponsorship.  The three cities and the chambers remained co-sponsors of the Surf Festival.  The cities no longer contributed to the overall expense of the festival unless they chose to run an individual event through their recreation department.


Manhattan Beach chose to have their Recreation Department run the 6-Person Volleyball Tournament later named after Charlie Saikley and the Sand Castle contest.  The city of Torrance, which had joined the ISF by this time, decided to have their recreation department run a 2-mile beach run at Torrance Beach.  The entry fees from these events stayed with the organizing city, and the expenses from running these events were paid for by that city.  The ISF was approached by community organizations who requested to conduct additional events under the ISF banner.  With approval from the organizing committee, these new events became part of the International Surf Festival.  It is the responsibility of these individual event organizers to pay for the cost of running these events, but like the cities, the entry fees from the events stay with the event organizers to offset operating costs.


When the Daily Breeze dropped out as title sponsor, they were replaced by the Beach Cities Health District.  When the Beach Cities Health District dropped their sponsorship, the ISF was sponsored by Scott Hubbell’s company, Beachsport, who remains the title sponsor today.


The International Surf Festival is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.  The ISF coordinators are responsible for procuring the necessary beach use permits and the required insurance coverage for the whole festival.   They host an annual Surf Festival Kick-off dinner which is held in conjunction with the Lifeguard Medal of Valor Awards.  They provide t-shirts for the ISF officials and golf shirts to the VIP’s.  They are responsible for paying for all of the lifeguard events and the expenses associated with putting on the Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim.  All revenue from the Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier swim returns to the ISF treasury.  They cover the beach maintenance and lifeguarding expenses associated with the festival.  The Surf Festival Coordinators work with the individual event organizers to assist their events by providing tables, chairs, water, parking passes, banners, website, advertising and other operational needs.  The organizing committee meets monthly to coordinate event activities and conduct ISF business.


2015 represents the 54th year of the International Surf Festival.  The event promotes the four South Bay beach cities, the world’s best lifeguard service, and physical fitness for thousands of participants.  Participants range in age from 8 years old to the late 80’s.  The three signature events for the festival are the Judge Taplin Lifeguard Medley Relay, the Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim, and the Charley Saikley 6-Person Volleyball Tournament.  Other great events include a surfing contest, bodysurfing contest, beach run, sand soccer, paddleboard race, dory race, and youth events. The festival has hosted numerous international lifeguard teams including a team from Victoria, Australia this year (2015). 


The organization began with a vision and was secured with a handshake.  The cooperative spirit has lasted for fifty years.  The only contracts other than the yearly beach permits are contracts with our insurance carrier and with our exclusive marketing entity SHP Inc./  The Beachsport contract is with the International Surf Festival, not with the individual cities or community organizations.  For the last 20 plus years, Scott Hubbell and Beachsport has been an excellent partner for the International Surf Festival.  They have consistently exceeded their contractual obligations with securing our cash sponsorship needs.  In addition, Beachsport provides the “staging”, sound systems, water for all events, and many other value in kind (VIK) contributions.  As an example they contribute greatly to the hosting and staging of the International Surf Festival/Medal of Valor dinner.


We are optimistic that the International Surf Festival will succeed for many years to come.  It’s a great opportunity for the beach cities, beach chambers, and County of Los Angeles to work together on a wonderful community event.  We hope that the next fifty years are as successful as the first fifty years.

bottom of page