You could say surfing is in my blood. My dad has been a surfer for as long as I can remember and he pushed for me and my brother to get into it too. Of course, like anything your dad tells you to do, you resist, but now I’m hooked.
Now I want to hook you into loving the ocean as much as I do.
On September 28 and 29, hundreds of people visited Imperial Beach for the Dempsey Pro Am, the largest surfing charity event in South San Diego County. Over 150 professional and amateur surfers competed just north of the Tijuana River Mouth Marine Protected Area or MPA.
This is the tenth year that WILDCOAST, a San Diego-based coastal conservation group, will be hosting the event. The proceeds help protect some of the most vulnerable ocean spots up and down our coastline.
I became a part of WILDCOAST after meeting one of the organizers out on the waves over a year ago. I surfed in the Dempsey last year as an amateur and competed in both the amateur and pro contest this year.
You may think I was nervous, sharing waves with pro surfers at the Dempsey, but I didn’t have anything to lose.
I can only become a better surfer from year to year. But it takes work.
And like our underwater parks, I think that anything worth celebrating is worth working for.
One of the things I love about surfing is that it gives me a chance to unwind and escape. It sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true.
The ocean is where I can be me. I can think or not think.
Being in the water is humbling and although I feel so small, I feel like a part of something greater than me.
Sometimes I take it for granted. I forget that there is a whole ecosystem under my board that can be affected by our choices.
I want to surf in clean waters, free of bacteria and trash bags.
I want to surf in a healthy ocean, full of life.
Some people may say that younger generations don’t care about the environment, but it’s not true. It’s not that we don’t care, we just don’t know.
That’s why it’s so important to get the word out and educate people about our underwater parks.
My favorite surf spot is the Tijuana River Mouth MPA at the south end of Imperial Beach. It’s been designated as a State Marine Conservation Area since last year.
Not only do I love catching waves out there, I’ve seen a ton of dolphins and occasionally, a smaller and slightly scarier fin. It may be less than three miles wide but it’s my whole surfing world.
Living so close to the beach, I’ve met people visiting from all over who have never seen the ocean before. They’re amazed that there is water as far as the eye can see.
It is a wonderful thing-the sun, the sand and so much rolling blue water.
We have a duty to protect its health with marine protected areas and make sure it’s still around for all of the people who have yet to experience it.
Vito Roccoforte is a 20 year-old surfer who lives in El Cajon and goes to Grossmont College.