International Surf Festival & Charlie Saikley 6-Man Volleyball Tournament
What do popping a squat, the WWF, grandmas with oxygen tanks, and Italian men have in common? If you guessed Charlie Sheen, you’d be close. However my friends, the things I describe are merely a smidgen of the sights to be seen at the Manhattan Beach Six Man Tournament, perhaps the most well known event at the International Surf Festival.
Dressed in a plethora of outrageous costumes, 120 teams participated in a six-player beach volleyball tournament in 4 different divisions for nearly 40,000 spectators. The winners from day one advance to the knock out rounds on day two, where the intensity and competition is high.
“Day One is mostly about fun”, said Marino Maronati, a player on the 50+ Team Italia, which by the way flies players in from Italy and Greece to play for this event. They’ve been coming for 12 years and placed second the last two in the Legends Division. “Day Two people play for the passion of the game, they forget about the money”, he said.
And money there was. Tons of teams were sponsored by various brands like Rockstar and Socialtyze, as evidenced by their bathing suits, t-shirts, and hats. Some teams were also sponsored by local establishments like Baja Sharkeez, Watermans, and Simmzy’s Pub. Because of the increased security to limit alcohol being carried onto the beach, many sponsors hosted parties at nearby houses that overlooked the event, complete with signage and swag.
The people who caught our eye the most however, were those with the wild and creative costumes. No costume too crazy, skimpy, or lewd. The level of sophistication and ensemble dedication was something to be admired. Teams dressed as Braveheart Scotsman, Chippendales, legendary football coach Mike Ditka, Baywatch lifeguards, Amish Men, Ninja Turtles, stewardesses, sailors, matadors with their very own dress up bull, pirates, comic book superheroes, 80s aerobics instructors complete with shake weights, 50s pinup girls, fairies, chefs, players from the movie Hoosiers, Saved By the Bell Bayside tigers, and even an interesting take on the male genitalia- team “Just the Tip”.
One of our favorites were the Candy Shop Ballers:
It was love at first sight with their bright colors, tutus, and sugar. They stole our hearts entirely when we heard them throwing down a version of 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” on the beach. We had to talk to them. Lorie, a Michigan native transplanted to LA, has been coming to Six Man for five years. The craziest thing she’s ever seen is a stripper pole on the beach…or maybe an over-served man sit spread eagled in the sand, who dug himself a hole and urinated in it. Speaking of which, we caught a chickie peeing on the side of a hill on the way back to our car, apparently unable to notice how very public her spot was. We thought an animal was coming out of the bushes, but it was merely some bare [untanned] buns.
In addition to engaging costumes, several teams were of entertainment value beyond their volleyball skills. Instead of leg drops and suplexes, Team WWF with a Hulk Hogan, Sergeant Slaughter, Jake the Snake, Undertaker, and Andre the Giant spiked and dug inside a replica wrestling ring on their half of the court. This team even created their own signature move by bouncing the Ultimate Warrior against the ropes into a jump serve.
Chanting, “Have more fun!” the Grand Old Cougars, moved with walkers, faked heart attacks, and wore oxygen tanks. They hit the court complete with floral moo-moo dresses, granny wigs, and purses. Their general fun demeanor, extremely detailed costumes, and showmanship are what the Charlie Saikley 6-Man Volleyball Tournament is all about.
It’s easy to see why this event has grown in stature over the years, even garnering the attention of local athletes and celebrities. Former UCLA Bruin Kevin Love was on hand sporting a new mohawk, as well as former Laker and UCLA Bruin Jordan Farmar, new Laker draftee and former Michigan Wolverine Darius Morris, and San Antonio Spurs forward Richard Jefferson. They participated on the “Trim Lords” team, which is put together by resident, perennial participant, and Lakers forward Luke Walton. Also seen around the courts were former NFL player Warren Sapp and the Baywatch legend himself, David Hasslehoff.
In addition to volleyball, other competitions we witnessed at the International Surf Festival included a surfing competition, 2-mile beach run, and a pier-to-pier swim. What seems like fun and easy-going sporting activities are in fact extremely difficult. Just walking the two miles from Hermosa to Manhattan felt like an athletic feat, which ended in an evening session icy hot rubdowns.
The fun and carefree energy of the cities of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach are fully reflected in this event, as is the culture of athletics and fitness– Hermosa and Manhattan have some of the oldest claims on beach volleyball and California surfing. The International Surf Festival is undoubtedly a signature event for the beach cities of Los Angeles and is a must attend event for sports and entertainment enthusiasts alike!
Stay tuned for tomorrow when we post our “Best of the Beach” picks and an entire event photo gallery!