In stark contrast to Friday’s Tel Aviv Marathon, Monday’s Triple Diamond Surf Competition had a distinct serenity to its competitiveness as the sun shined over the white sands of the world-class surfing venue of Hilton Beach, at a moderate 19 degrees.
The event, otherwise known as ‘The Ultimate Waterman Challenge,’ and, colloquially nicknamed the ‘Iron Man competition,’ brought together Israel’s 16 best surfers in an invitation-only competition comprised of surfing’s three main disciplines: stand up paddle-board, long-board, and short-board.
Hosted by the Israeli Surfing Association, the Triple Diamond is in its second year of existence and serves as a unique opportunity to invite the nation’s various surf communities to Tel Aviv.
According to one of the event’s organizers, Arthur Rashkovan, who is often considered the go-to-guy for all things surf and skate in Israel, “Today we had surfers from all over the country, from Ashdod to Haifa. And while we’re more known for short-boarding in Tel Aviv, it was really cool to see everyone competing in all three disciplines out there.”
As hundreds of local surfers, fans and casual observers enjoyed what turned out to be a phenomenal weather day for surfing, the impression was given that surfing has always been a core component of Tel Aviv’s beach scene.
Despite what could be considered a beginner beach in terms of its wave swells, in recent years, the local surf scene has gained some international attention. Israel has become a point of interest for major Western surf-related media outlets, leading Stab Magazine to name Tel Aviv the 6th best city for surfers in the world in 2012, while California-based GrindTV named Israel one of the ‘Five Unlikely Spots You’d Never Think to Surf’ in 2013.
That much deserved, and some might say needed attention made it possible for events like Monday’s Triple Black Diamond to take place – major sponsors included international surfing heavyweights such as Billabong, Naish & Focus, as well as Corona.
After a tiring day of triathlon-like heats, the 16 surfers were slowly knocked out of the race as only two from each section advanced to the quarters. Familiar names kept cropping up as Omer Bar, Yoni Klein, Dudi Edri, Omri Hazor and Ze’ev David appeared as finalists in each heat. Winning the stand-up paddle-board category was Hazor, who also came second in the long and short board heats. Klein took the ‘Iron Man’ title for short-boarding, as well as for long-boarding. Clearly veteran champions, the men stood laughing as they remained on the podium for every category. Dudi Edri surfed to the top, taking first place with the most points in all three heats.
In a triumphant final moment, Hazor, when he won a box of board wax as his prize, reached into the pot and tossed it out to a group of applauding young surfers. Even with planes flying overhead and old-school hip hop blaring through the speakers, the beach-side event maintained a certain Southern-California-inspired serenity only reserved for the true spirit of surf.