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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Wrightsville beach’s biggest surf competition will not happen this summer. The Reef Sweetwater Pro-Am was the second biggest surf competition on the entire east coast. Now the event that packs local hotels and stores each July is gone.

Town officials say without it there could be a negative economic impact.

“We have a lot of people that come down just for the day, and then we have many that come in and fill our hotel rooms up, eat in restaurants,” Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti said. “Economically it’s a big loss for us.”

The event, which has become a huge attraction in its seven years at Wrightsville Beach, won’t hit the beach this summer, because the organizers are moving companies.

Tony Butler says he is leaving Sweetwater Surf Shop at the end of the month, and his partner at the beachwear company Reef is also leaving.

“With Brad (Beach) leaving Reef, and that kind of looming in the air, we knew we were behind the 8 ball, and it was just better to pull back and not do the event this year instead of doing it, kind of, not 100 percent,” Butler said.

The event attracted thousands of fans and hundreds of surfers from all around the world.

Butler says the competition probably is not gone for good. All it needs is a sponsor change.

“It should be at the same level if we do it again next year, if not better,” Butler said. “We’re excited about the new change, but just to do it at such a short notice this year with the change wouldn’t have been feasible.”

World-renown surfer Rob Machado won last year’s event, taking the majority share of the $20,000 prize purse.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest3369

    ATTENTION WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH: You do your best to keep the tourists off of your precious beach with the lack of parking, alcohol and soon to be smoking bans…are you really that surprised this group does not want to come? It’s about your politics, not about people going to a different company…quit making excuses for yourselves. Watch it “turn up” at Carolina Beach soon.

  • concerned local citizen

    Seems that after all the negativity, that the sponsors have returned and in a big way. O’Neil and Sweetwater bringing their surf fest back in April and the Wahine making a return in August. Companies are supporting the healthier, cleaner, family friendly smoke free beach. Pretty awesome. Thanks Surfrider Foundation, Stop Titan and all the other “hippy” organizations that are protecting the natural resources that actually drive our economy.

  • Guest2020

    This kind of economic loss is what Wrightsville Beach has in its future if it passes the smoking ban.

  • Beach Bum

    Surfriders…Stop Titan…Rick Wilson…Any other hippies I missed…

    Do you see? Do you get it now? Do you understand?

    Everything is always about the money…

    Not warm fuzzies…

    Anyone who says it isn’t about the money, doesn’t have any.

    Here is a opportunity for Rick Wilson, the broad who collects cigarette butts, the Stop Titan and Surfrider morons to shine…

    Your proposal for a equitable substitute event?

  • Guest757

    It seems to me that Wrightsville Beach is getting just what they wanted all these years…

    They NEVER wanted tourist on “THEIR” beach in the first place. But I do feel sorry for all the shop owners..

    If they vote on the smoking ban this is exactly the way it will be from now on..

    Won’t it be a kick if the surf competiton does end up at Carolina Beach..

  • Das Weibstück

    Maybe you can get Phillip Morris to sponsor it next year.

  • taxpayer

    R. J. Reynolds. Since the snoots at WB don’t want people to smoke on “their” beach, maybe Skoal could be a sponsor. They didn’t say anything about spitting on the beach.


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