By Ashley Tivnan
It’s October, so it is time again for the Second Annual Water Brothers Pro Surf contest in Newport RI. It will be held on October 14th -15th in honor of Ryan Roberts, a Rhode Island native and local surfer who passed away due to cancer at only 25 years old. This year, 90% of the proceeds will be going towards hurricane relief efforts and the remaining funds will be donated to a variety of charities.
The competition will consist of nearly 50 professional surfers from all parts of the country, including twenty-eight-year-old professional surfer, Rob Kelly, who won the contest last year. Kelly is sponsored by Billabong, a well-known surfing brand, and is traveling up to Newport from his home in New Jersey to defend his title. The contest will run in several heats (or rounds), each consisting of four people. It will be a full day of events and the competition begins at 7 am sharp. The top two surfers in each round will move forward until the final round is completed. Along with the main competition, there will be two other events running for short-boarders and long-boarders sponsored by Tora Surfboards. This will be a great additional contest for spectators to watch.
The event was organized by Sid Abruzzi, a dear friend of Ryan Roberts. This is not the first surfing event he has held, in fact, he and his wife, Danielle Abruzzi, have held several surfing events over the past several years to benefit various causes. One of their more well-known and well-attended events is “Surf & Skate Fest,” which is held each July. The successes of these events have raised interest in having additional events held in the community. Sid and his wife are grateful for the many sponsors who have helped to make this event such a huge success. Many thanks to the Newport Tent Company, Salty Crew, Kirby Perkins Construction, and several more. Furthermore, they decided to host the event in Newport, RI since that is where the honoree was from. Surfing is a huge part of the culture in Newport and Middletown and Sid wanted to keep the tradition alive and at the same time honor a special friend that impacted all surfers in the area.
Abruzzi was not expecting the event to be such a huge success the first year. However, this year they anticipate it to be even bigger with over 300 spectators. Within the first two days of registration, a majority of the slots were already filled, and they were receiving a huge amount of support and willingness from vendors and volunteers. Since October brings the best waves, they anticipate that the day will be a success. If in fact there are no waves, the contest will be canceled and in place of the competition, a beach cleanup will be held. Either event is sure to bring the community together to honor a great cause. No matter what the conditions, the memory of Ryan Roberts and his passion for surfing are sure to live on.