San Clemente’s 42nd annual Ocean Festival

San Clemente gears for the 42nd annual Ocean festival held at the pier. (Andrea Clemett/Lariat)

San Clemente gears for the 42nd annual Ocean festival held at the pier. (Andrea Clemett/Lariat)

Ocean competition raises funds for the community

San Clemente hosts the 42nd annual Ocean Festival at the pier with an expected 50,000 participants and spectators of all ages on Saturday July 21 through Sunday, July 22. The goals of the non-profit organization focus on promoting water athletics, ocean safety and environmental awareness. The forecast predicts two to three foot southwest surf building through the weekend to four feet with warm water temperatures at 74 degrees.

The water athletic headlines the SUP surfing championships, competitive lifeguard events, dolphin dash for kids and the “groms rule” surf contest for competitions. The beach events, showcase sand runs, open ocean swims and paddles, SUP sprint races and the Marine Raider Boat Challenge. Contestants may register online or in person on the event day for limited spaces.

During the youth and family events, the community participates in an all-age fishing derby, free body surfing clinics and sand sculpting competition for teams of up to ten people. The youth pavilion hosts musical performances on both days, families also may create crafts and play games hosted by the City of San Clemente Recreation Division and the Ocean Institute.

The debut of the Marine Raider Boat Challenge features Zodiac boats powered by current and former Special Operators from the Marines, Navy Seals and Green Berets. The boat teams’ objective is to race outside of the surf, flip the boat and paddle back to the shore.

“The Marine community has previously competed and viewed the Ocean Festival, they held their own race and this year asked us to participate,” Ernie Marquez said, Ocean Festival president. “It is another great way to combine our neighbors of Camp Pendleton.”

With the event revenue and sponsorship support, the non-profit donates the proceeds to the San Clemente junior lifeguard program and state lifeguards. Proceeds contribute to the Ocean Institute’s Adopt-A-Class program in Dana Point. The class invites students in a kinesthetic learning experience that encompasses science, technology, engineering and math. The students’ learning places an emphasis in marine conservation and research field studies.

“It became our objective in the late 80’s to focus on youth participation and in the last ten years the amount of youth in water athletics is at its highest,” Marquez said. “It’s impressive to see the community doing their part for the ocean. For instance, on July 5th, many volunteers gathered at a beach cleanliness event for trash pickup.”

Prize purses for men and women will be awarded in the nine events of the lifeguard competition ranging from $500 for first place to $100 for fifth. The Poseidon and Neptune winners will each receive $200 in two paddling and three swimming divisions of the beach events. Festival planners indicate that this event attracts world-class athletes in the hope to inspire ocean sports and camaraderie.