Surfers walking on Jacksonville Beach in black and white

Bum Rush, Jacksonville, FL with Sun Bum

How does a surprise surf contest actually work?

Photos by Gunner Hughes

Maybe it was just something in their tone when our pals at Sun Bum asked if we wanted to come hang out in Jacksonville Beach last week for a surprise surf competition. Or it could have very well been that—and that they mentioned World Champion/ Olympian Carissa Moore would be a judge. And then followed it up with GiGi Lucas, founder of SurfearNEGRA and one of our favorite people in the world, would also be a judge. Then of course they mentioned Kylie Pulcini as the third judge, who we didn’t know at that very moment would be one the better humans we would meet in a while. But we do now. 

Bum Rush, as mentioned, is a surprise surf competition held annually by the good folks over at Sun Bum. They graciously asked us if we wouldn’t mind stopping by the Jacksonville Beach Pier. The lineup was stacked, the pier bowl was providing and possibly the raddest little dude ever took home the gold. We spoke a little with Dustin Boshart, Sun Bum’s East Coast Event Lead, for a little bit more about the competition.

Over to Dustin…

Black and white photo of Dustin sittin in van.

I want to say the first one was in either 2010 or early 2011. When we started, we wanted to sponsor a lot of the big dogs, but we didn’t have a lot of the money, to be honest. And we were like, “Well, why…?” As much as these big dogs, the number ones and twos of the world, deserve all the money and fame, but we’re like, “Hey, how come these local guys aren’t getting a little love, too?” And so we wanted to find that person in the community that maybe wasn’t really highlighted, just to make that average person feel a little bit more elevated. 

We wanted to give them that WSL winning experience, but just at your local break on a random day. So that was kind of the idea. It’s our 10th year now and all across the world. I think the first one we did was New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The second one would’ve been Jacksonville, about 10 years to the day. 

The whole thing was to try and find that rad person in the community that maybe didn’t get the love that they always deserved. And not even about the love, but making that one person feel on top of the world.

We wanted to give them that WSL winning experience, but just at your local break on a random day.

Black and white photo judges walking under the pier.
Black and white photo judges walking under archway with surfboard
Black and white photo Gigi Lucas laughing

Whalebone: How do you think it feels for people that inevitably end up winning these competitions, especially with a surprise element?

Dustin: Most of the time they have no idea what’s going on. You pull them out of the water, and they’re like, “What? I won something?” Or they’re pretty blown away. And then it kind of hits, especially when there’s a check and some champagne in their face. And they’re like, “Wow, this is actually serious.” Also it is sparkling cider. There is no alcohol. So it’s pretty sticky. 

What does it mean to have Carissa be the judge for the Jacksonville event, or in general?

Dustin: It’s the biggest honor we could ever imagine to have a five-time world champion and Olympic medalist and an all-around completely beautiful inside-and-out person.

Have you ever met anyone with energy like Kylie’s before?

Dustin: No. No. And I don’t play favorites at all here, but I tell many people she’s one of my favorite humans in the world. And she is truly one of my favorite humans in the world. That girl’s energy is second to none and just a ball of good vibes that everybody could use. She makes anybody’s day better.

Black and white photo Carissa Moore on the beach
Black and white photo Kylie Pulcini having coffee and smiling
Black and white photo of Tyko the Grom Ripper being held up with giant Sun Bum chain around his neck

Winner: Tyko Cruz Tran

We caught up with Tyko’s biggest fan (although there were many) his mom Heather Tran. Post-very big check and sparkling cider—of course.

Whalebone: How did you feel about Tyko winning today?

Heather: Amazed. We really just happened to come up here—we didn’t know any of this was going on. There are a lot of really great surfers in the water up here so this is amazing.

And how old is Tyko?

Heather: He just turned 11 last week.

And how do you think he feels right now?

Heather: He’s out-of-his-mind stoked. Literally, this is the highlight of his year. Living his dream right now. Literally, living his dream.

Black and white photo two kids staring into the surf at the pier.