Grand Strand surf competition honors former lifeguard, raises money for higher education

Published: Aug. 20, 2023 at 10:30 AM EDT
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SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - An annual surf competition made some big waves in the Grand Strand this weekend.

The 23rd annual Guy Daniels Memorial Surf Off had surfers like Olen Powalie catching waves for a cause.

“Surfing is just a lot more fun when everyone else is having fun and the contest kind of does that for you,” said Powalie.

Powalie said this year was his tenth competition in honor of Daniels, a former Surfside Beach surfer and lifeguard.

“Just doing it for him and having a good time. Spreading the love of surfing,” he said.

The competition brings together hundreds of folks along the Grand Strand honoring Daniels as well as teaching youth the importance of maintaining a clean beach.

Family and friends said Daniels passed away from a heart attack while jogging on the beach in college in 1999.

Since then, every penny raised during the annual surf-off goes towards the foundation scholarship for recent graduating seniors, a fellowship for graduate students at Coastal Carolina University as well as selecting a lifeguard of the year.

The two-day competition saw over 100 contestants and has brought in over $150,000 going toward education over the years.

What organizers found the most impactful throughout the competition was seeing new generations continue Daniels’s legacy.

“Honestly seeing the little guys and girls that surf in the novice heat, they’re just getting started,” said Jacob Simmons, Director of the Guy Memorial Foundation. “And like once they get started, you’re hooked, and each year you get to see 20-30 different kids get started, and you see how that foundation of a guy or girl grow the next few years,” he said.

Those up-and-coming surfers shared the benefits of riding out the waves:

“As a young girl surfer, it’s always just easier to just try your best and like focus on what you want to do not what others expect of you,” said Apple Skipper, from Surfside Beach.

“Just have fun it’s all about having fun,” said Aven Johnson, from Cherry Grove.

“To be out here and hang out with people really and just to be a part of something that means more than just surfing,” said Tiler Weston, from Surfside Beach

“Practice a lot, come out here a lot, talk to everyone, just don’t worry about what other people think about you,” said Finn Schrus, from Cherry Grove.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.