Beach Break: ECSC, the Longest-Running Surf Contest in the World

As temperatures heat up and waves begin to thrash, Hampton Roads locals know it’s that time of year again. The Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC) will celebrate its 61st consecutive year this August, making it the “longest, continually run surfing championship in the World.” 

Hosted by the city of Virginia Beach, the event attracts more than 100,000 people to its Oceanfront each year. From beach concerts and block parties to skate competitions and bikini contests, ECSC is a summer event you won’t want to miss!

How it All Began

Surfing is often associated with the West Coast and Hawaii due to the Pacific’s more consistent waves and generally warmer weather. But the East Coast’s warmer summer waters, more substantial fluctuations in wave size, and winter storms make it a prime destination for surfers seeking a unique challenge.

This year marks the 110th anniversary of Virginia Beach surfing, the birthplace of East Coast surfing circa 1912. The ECSC as we know it began in 1963, with the local Jaycees chapter sponsoring the Virginia Beach Surfing Carnival. The sport was brand new but growing in popularity, and spectators were eager to watch surfers take on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Concessions were limited to hot dogs, and people with guitars played to the growing crowd. 

Hanging Loose at the Oceanfront

Within three years, the event became known as the East Coast Surfing Championship, attracting competitors from north and south to central, Mid-Atlantic locations. In the 80s, a humble community event transformed into a festival. 

With full-fledged concerts held at the beachfront and additional sports like volleyball added to the lineup, the ECSC had evolved into one of the largest surfing events in the world. In 2021, it became the longest-running surf contest in the world after an Australian event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s not hard to see the original competition’s beach party atmosphere in today’s iteration of the event. You can catch hundreds of pro and amateur surfers competing for cash and prizes. While the ECSC is a surfing event first, it’s also Virginia Beach’s annual excuse to hang loose. Expect a wide range of drink specials, plenty of music, and good vibes all around.

The festival’s longstanding relationship with the Jaycees also provides financial support for the organization’s social projects and charitable contributions. Virginia Beach not only gets some summer fun but tangible, long-term community investment also.


Alexandrea Sumuel is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.