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.