Months before the crowds flocked to the beaches in September 2011 to watch professional surfers like Kelly Slater boost airs during the Quiksilver Pro New York — the largest pro surfing competition ever held on the East Coast — Billy Kupferman and the late Danny Bobis, members of the Long Beach Surfer’s Association, already knew that Long Beach’s surfing population was experiencing unprecedented growth.
With 34 of the world’s best surfers vying for an unheard of $1 million prize purse, and thousands of spectators expected to converge on Long Beach, many in town were still unaware of just how big the contest, part of the Association of Surfing Professionals' World Tour, would actually be.
Bobis and Kupferman said as much at a City Council meeting months before the contest in the hopes of creating awareness about the crowds and influx of surfers that an event like the Quik Pro would attract. Lincoln Boulevard beach, one of the most popular breaks in town, was already overcrowded, and with limited beach space for surfers, Bobis and Kupferman sensed early on that there was a need to acknowledge the local surf community, its newcomers, safety issues caused by overcrowding and the positive benefits that surfing generated for the town, including its economy.
“It was so crowded and by that time I wouldn’t even go surfing on Lincoln,” Kupferman, 36, recalled. “The past five years have had the biggest changes and that’s what led us to form the Long Beach Surfers Association, and on the eve of Quiksilver, that’s when we were talking about using this momentum to say it’s time for more space and recognize that the surfing community has grown and some organization and change was needed — it was too big at that point to stay as it was.”