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Surfing at Upham Beach
By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000
Who says you can't surf on Florida's West Coast? For years, Upham Beach has been a local mecca for Gulf Coast surfers looking to catch a few waves.
June 1 marks the official start of the hurricane season. Surfers usually can count on two or three low pressure systems to roll up the Gulf and produce anywhere from one to five days of ridable waves.
These hurricanes and tropical storms of summer draw a lot of weekend warriors. But you also will find a small but dedicated group of winter warriors in the water when the north wind blows.
Since the waves on the West Coast of Florida are generally smaller (or nonexistent) than those on the East Coast, most local surfers ride longboards (9- to 10-feet range), which are easier to paddle than short boards, and as a result, make it easier to catch a wave.
Short boards (6- to 7-foot range) are better suited for storm surf. These light, maneuverable boards are the choice of most younger surfers. Many surfers choose a fun shape (8-foot range), which offers the best of both worlds.
If you are interested in the "Sport of Hawaiian Kings," contact Bruce Davies of the Suncoast Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation at (727) 596-2244.
The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) also sponsors local contests for young surfers. To find out more about the ESA and scholarship opportunities for surfer/scholars, contact Skip Beach at (727) 596-2035.
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