1st Annual URT LOB OFF “GOES OFF”!!!
On Sunday, October 23, 2011 San Diego hosted a one of a kind event. Dubbed the URT LOB OFF after the waterman’s clothing company URT (see www.urturt.com) and the fact that the contest was centered around “competitive lobster diving.” URT had been promoting the event for the last month and a half around local hangouts and surfshops. The event took place at the end of Sunset Cliffs Blvd. in San Diego, Ca. The day came and the surf had been flat for the last three days, leaving the water as clear as possible. Perfect conditions for divers to swim down and find tasty lobsters.
The online registration was a meager two people up to the day of the event. Beach sign up started at 11:30 am on the 23rd, four more people sign up, totaling six contestants. Among them were a few Navy SEALS, the son of a Dept. of Fish and Game warden and a Coronado Beach Lifeguard. The complete list of competitors are as follows; Troy Mccasland, Spencer Summers, Al Hansen, James Lindell, Michael Odowd, Bobby Wurzelbachel and Mike Saulnier.
The Rules of the LOB OFF were simple. To participate one needed a fishing license along with a lobster card. All the contestants had two hours to troll for lobsters, starting and ending at the top of the stairs at Garbage Beach (end of Sunset Cliffs Blvd.). When there was 15 minutes left, a big white and blue umbrella was deployed and placed atop the cliff for all the contestants to see. Prizes were for the most legal sized lobster and the biggest lobster caught. Before everyone went out they were debriefed on the all the rules. The time was set and everyone started filing down the narrow stairs. The excitement everyone had was unparalleled to get in the water with and dive with a few other people. No one had ever heard or thought of such an event let alone participated in such camaraderie in an activity that was so soulful and cherished.
Once everyone was in the water the searching begun. Most of the contestants teamed up in groups of two. Some went by themselves. All spread out, trying to find the best ledges, cracks, and hiding spots. Lobster season starts in the beginning of October, so the 23rd is fairly early in the season- nevertheless there were plenty of lobsters for the picking. At one point fish and game came by to make sure that everything was going along smoothly.
Once the big blue and white umbrella was deployed the contestants started making their way to the beach. As they reached the top of the stairs their catch was counted and eyeballed for weight. Al Hansen was the first up to the judging area because he had caught his legal limit for the day, seven lobsters. He actually had been back since the umbrella had been deployed.
All the spectators and contestants waited and looked around happy that everyone was safe and lobsters was caught by hand in such a fashion. Out of the six contestants three had caught lobsters of legal size. Al Hansen had seven, Spencer Summers had two and Bobby Wurzelbachel had one. One of Hansen’s was deemed the biggest at 3lbs.
The awards ceremony was a throwback by all-means. It would remind one of a surf contest from the 1950’s. It was as if everyone was exploring a new aspect of playing in the ocean, much like the early pioneers must have felt 60 years ago. No one knew what was going to happen because no one had experienced or been in such an event. The trophies were painted wood blocks with lobsters painted on them.
Al Hansen won first place for the most legal lobsters as well as the biggest lobster caught- an estimated 3lbs! Spencer Summers won second place for catching two legal lobsters and Bobby Wurzelbachel came in Third with one. Everyone left buzzing with excitement and had a new lust for lobster diving. The event is planned for the same time next year. Look forward to seeing you all there.