By Lisa Pelletier

To sign up for the final Buddy this weekend at Oceana Pier in Atlantic Beach, NC, you can register online here:

Have you ever wanted to time travel? 

In today’s hectic slash and thrash world of Surfing, have you ever wondered what it was like in the early days? Hanging with friends, sliding along the surface of the water, inventing new tricks and techniques, hearing the hoots and howls of your friends in the line-up when you pull off a maneuver they’d not seen before? Everything was new and the stoke was real.

License to chill and have one heck of a great time this weekend at The Buddy Pelletier Memorial Longboard Classic. Courtesy Buddy Pelletier Foundation

There are still pockets of the Surfing World where you can experience that feeling. But they are usually organic and unplanned. Just slices of time together with friends. Once you’ve felt it, you keep chasing it. That pureness doesn’t come as easily as it once did. Except for one place. There’s one place where Community, Stoke, Sportsmanship and Style still have a place. Welcome to the Buddy Pelletier Memorial Longboard Classic.

Buddy at one of his favorite homes away from home ( he seemed to have the welcome matt rolled out by countless friends wherever he roamed ) was Shacks Beach, Puerto Rico. The locals loved this guy for both his surfing and his smiling, cruisey style. Photo: Mez @mezapixels

Started in 2000, Classic Director/Founder Mike Holleman envisioned an old style get together of some of the East Coast’s finest, as well as the up and comers, to help everyone remember that stoke. His goal was to put together an event that “Buddy would enjoy”. An event where surfers in the finals would actually assist their competitors if they lost their board, where “Tent City” allows competitors to lay down the fierceness of sponsored competition and just gather as friends. A reunion where everyone comes to just have a bit of fun. The constraints of regular cut throat competition gets left in the parking lot and that first footstep in the hot sand recalibrates your mood. You’re here to have fun, to show off and push your competitors to bring out tricks they wouldn’t normally throw out in a regular competition because the stakes are too high. An event where the Dying Cockroach maneuver gets as much fan adoration as a fin first take off followed by a 20 second nose ride.

Buddy, then not so well known outside his native south coastal North Carolina, at the 1975 Grog’s Seaside Pro where he blew minds with his switchfooted prowess and amazing style. Visiting pro’s had no flipping idea which stance he surfed best with but, in the end, the likes of Peter Townend, Rabbit Bartholomew, Ian Cairns, Mike Ho, Shaun Tomson and many other top touring IPS pro’s all agreed he surfed all four ways indiscernibly with each one just as good as the other. Buddy also took second to Shaun The Prawn in the Morey-Doyle softboard contest with Tomson barely squeaking out the win over “Woodrow” and leaving many spectators thinking it should have been the other way around. Buddy just smiled, shook the Saffa’s hand and with genuine, gentlemenly stoke told him “great heat Shaun”. And the Legend Of Buddy grew. Photo: Mez @mezapixels

The Buddy, as it became known. And being part of it became a badge of honor. 

This year marks the 20th and final Buddy. After a pause for Covid last year, current Classic Director Jessica Holleman has had an extra year to plan and prepare and she’s got some pretty nice tricks up her sleeve. A commemorative T-Shirt designed by Nemo, who made the first T-shirt design for Buddy’s Foundation brings things full circle. Trying to find parking at the beach stressing you out. Never fear, Jessica will have shuttles running on and off all weekend. Want to hang out and blow off some steam after a long day of competition? No worries, Selah Dubb will be playing on the Beach. Dancing with your toes in the sand to the lull of the Ocean while jamming reggae floats along the air is just another way to evoke the feeling of Tribe. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The inaugural “The Buddy” contest logo by longtime friend and fellow East Coast Surfing Hall Of Famer, Mike “Nemo” Nemnich.

The 20th and last rendition in a two plus decades long series of beautiful Buddy art again by Nemo. More than a fitting ending to an epic string of 20 “Buddys” having Nemnich create the final logo for his fallen comrade.

Bill Roach (or as he’s better known to anyone who’s ever applied wax to a board – Papa Roach) the Foundation’s President is a constant figure on the beach. From overseeing the Judging Panel, to pushing the mini grom division to give it their all, to scouting his crew for the Team Competition (Buddy’s Buds record stands at 18-1, will they clinch it this final year?) and walking the beach, stopping to chat and make sure everyone’s having a good time. And the smile plastered on his face lets everyone know, Buddy would have enjoyed being part of this.

Buddy’s style was the kind everybody wanted to emulate and the guy could do it all from fun sized Sixmans Bay in Barbados circa winter 0f 1982 sown here or to grinding, maxxed out Caribbean juice at Gas Chambers in Peurto Rico. Photo Mez @mezapixels

So many stories to share, 20 years’ worth of good vibes and memories. All the hard work and planning by the Volunteers paying off every year. Good vibes circulating through every level. Behind the scenes as well as out in the line-up. As the Foundation Buddy formed before he passed from Cancer at the young age of 44 readies for the final Buddy, the mood is bittersweet. It’s time for new endeavors, new avenues to support and lift up Buddy’s beloved community. But we will never forget the support from Buddy’s community, their efforts to play by the Buddy’s rules of sportsmanship and competition at its highest and purest level. The smiles and laughter, the friendships made or rekindled. The pranks and shenanigans. We will remember them all.

Buddy possibly switchfooted ( we never really knew and he never really told us ) at “holy shit!” sized Gas. Photo: Norm Grosskreutz

Speaking for Buddy’s family (annoying little sister here) We thank this community for keeping Buddy’s true spirit alive and passing on his style to 3 generations and counting. Many of whom never knew Buddy while he was still alive.

What would Buddy do? We ask ourselves that question often, whenever faced with a problem or someone in need, whether on a humanitarian aid level or through scholastic assistance. And it’s never failed us yet.

“What would Buddy do? He’d go surfing”. Amen to Buddy and to the wonderful event supported by all those volunteers in his great NC surfing community that are way to numerous to list here.

So, my last thought as we get ready for the final Buddy is…. What would Buddy do?

He’d go surfing.

To sign up for the final Buddy, you can register online here:

To learn more about Buddy and his Foundation, visit here: