Beach ‘N Boards Fest 2016


(Kiteboard and Yoga Photos Taken By: Frankie Tuzcu)jjyyhAs the smell of sunscreen permeated throughout the salty air, and a thick swami of spring breakers crowded the shores of Cocoa Beach, the fourth annual Beach ‘N Boards Fest turned out to be more than the average surfing competition. With endless events going on throughout the weekend including sea oat plantings, live music, professional athlete signings, free movie premieres, fitness productions, and multiple sports tournaments, this was a chance for the Brevard community to bond, market, and expand.

The idea of Beach ‘N Boards Fest spawned from local Mitch Varnes who had produced the Sebastian Inlet Pro tournament from 2005-2010. Ron Jon was the presenting sponsor of that event each year, however a recession hit the surfing industry and they lost significant sponsorship funds for that event. Ron Jon and Varnes continued to stay in close contact and ultimately decided to create Beach ‘N Boards Fest four years ago.

“We decided to create a new event in Cocoa Beach that would still have surfing as the focus,” said Varnes. “But also include almost every other form of board sports as part of it. I think the only one we are missing is snowboarding.”

The vital influence Beach ‘N Boards Fest created on the city’s economy is significant. Due to the size and timing of the competition, hotels were filled, restaurants were packed, and all of Brevard’s shops had an influx of business. Varnes explains that in it’s fourth year, the community is starting to rally behind this event. He states that the city fills plenty of restaurants and hotels with out of towners who come in for the competition. This helps put Cocoa Beach on the map as a family and surfing destination.


“I think this event was one of the best things to happen for Cocoa Beach and our local community,” said founder of NPI productions Dalton Smith. “This was a world qualifying series surfing event and truly something special for our local surfers, photographers, and anyone who wanted to be part of a high caliber event. This is the only WQS contest in Florida and there is no other contest around that offers the variety of action sports seen at the Beach ‘N Boards Fest.”

Smith and his crew produce high quality content to create spectacular highlight videos. For him and his company, this was a significant opportunity to capture quality action entertainment for his viewers, expanding his organization.

Event organizer Courtenay Porter explains why a WSL Jr. Pro event in Cocoa Beach is meaningful.  “This helps surfing companies in California take us more seriously,” said Porter. “Every year the competitors and the brands keep coming back and each year is a blast for them.”


What is more, as Varnes stated, Beach ‘N Boards Fest does not exclude other board sports. What makes this event unique is the variety of board sports exhibited throughout the weekend. Ron Jon Kiteboarding Owner, Billy Bosch, coordinated and executed a Collegiate Kiteboarding competition. “As a kite shop owner, I am in a position to help students expand their network and knowledge base through the sport of kiteboarding,” said Bosch. “Ron Jon Kiteboarding does everything it can to promote and support students and the CKA.” Beach N’ Boards Fest was a great opportunity to promote Bosch’s brand while encouraging and empowering students.


While that was taking place, Ron Jon team riders were also competing in a skate tournament hosted by Instaramp and Cocoa Beach Skate Park.

Not only that, but Oakley hosted a high school beach volleyball competition as well. The event featured the top performance high school teams throughout Central Florida.

Furthermore, Billabong showcased a wake tank featuring some of the best wakeboarders in the country. These athletes performed top of the line stunts in a tiny pool as crowds gathered around them in awe.


IMG_0108In addition, Roxy hosted a fitness program which included a one mile SUP, 5K, and yoga. Everyone in the community was welcome to join, and free to participate in one event or all three.

For event organizer Courtenay Porter, this was a great opportunity to network her yoga business. Having participated as a yoga instructor at the Roxy Fitness event, “the Roxy yoga fitness program was awesome exposure and a great resume builder for me,” said Porter.



“I love that I get to work Beach ‘N Boards Fest,” said event organizer Porter. “I enjoy being around like minded people in my community who know and understand me. We all want to touch young lives, get them stoked, and want them to care about the environment; it is my favorite thing in the world.”

When it comes to the environment, Beach ‘N Boards Fest came together to create awareness throughout the city. Volcom, Ron Jon, and Keep Brevard Beautiful collaborated to plant sea oats on the dune line as part of a give back and sustainability campaign during the festival. Sea oats play an important role in the local ecosystem. They help promote dune growth and provide natural protection from damaging beach erosion. The program invited locals along with athletes to plant over 500 pre-sprouted sea oats. This ran on the last two days of the event.


What is more, free interactive events were held throughout the weekend for the community. John John Florence’s new movie View From A Blue Moon was screened Friday, March 11th at Ron Jon Surf Shop with free giveaways by Hurley.

Overall, the Beach ‘N Boards Fest played a vital role in helping our community grow. The event gave companies an opportunity to display their talents, it shined a light on Cocoa Beach as a surfing destination, and ultimately brought our neighborhood together.  



Community Comes Together for the K-9 Unit



As the tangy smell of cajun jambalaya hit the air, a crowd of Cocoa Beach locals gathered at The Tiny Turtle on Saturday, March 5th to help support the newly formed Cocoa Beach K-9 unit. The Cajun for K-9 event helped raise money for important up-keep items for the new police dog such as vests, food, maintenance, and kennel needs.

“It is important to me any time I can give back to those guys who are putting their lives on the line for us,” said city commissioner Ed Martinez. “I am excited about the K-9 program and I hope that they prosper and do well.”

Thus far, the K-9 Unit consists of one canine, an 18 month old Belgian Malinois dog  named Voodoo. Recently donated through the sheriff’s department, Voodoo has already had some prior training as the son of another canine. The dog grew up in a handler’s home with rigorous physical, verbal, obedience and command training. After being donated to the city, James Ritenour was chosen through an extended interview process to become the dog’s handler.

“So far having the dog has been great,” said James.

Ritenour and Voodoo must go through a 4 month training period together which entails apprehension, obedience, bonding and a 4 week narcotics training. Currently, they are in their second week of training.

The event was headed by active city member Casey Roberts and Coastal Produce owner Kenne Wells with donations and help from Island Animal Hospital, Barrier Island Pet Supply, and others.

“The dog is another police officer which is always needed,” said Wells. “We are very blessed to be able to do this.”

Overall, the Cajun for K-9 event raised $1300. Altogether the community has put together about $5300 since the idea of restarting a K-9 unit developed.

“This event is important because it means that the community is appreciating our efforts to keep everyone safe,” said Officer Ron Betts. “The K-9 unit program is imperative because it aids with people who bring drugs into the city, tracking, searching for missing people, finding fugitives,and the overall safety of the community.” 



Windansea Boardshop Brings Surfing Community Together



Along the ocean coasts of America lies a plethora of surf shops, whether it be your neighborhood shop or the well known tourist store. However, what is it that makes one surf shop stand out from another? As a consumer, I can tell you the relationships merchants and I build together and store interaction are few of the many factors that keep me coming back. When it comes to many surf stores in Florida, these elements are not as emphasized as they are on the West Coast. Nonetheless, with owners from the West Coast, Windansea Boardshop holds community interaction to a forefront, bringing the surfing neighborhood together.

With an indoor skate ramp, free beer on tap, surf and SUP lessons, hands on shaping lessons, lifetime ding repair offers, and being Carver repair certified Windansea encompasses a surfers dream.

“When I moved out here I did all of my due diligence looking at different shops,” said store owner Erik Thomas. “What I saw was a lot of gaps in service. Many of  the surf shops were not set up to cater the community, they lacked that personable quality.”

On the West Coast of North America there are a lot of smaller family owned local shops. The legacy shops have been around for years and those are the places that neighborhood surfers go to frequently where interaction is significant. Having been from the San Diego area the owners of Windansea  took the best practices out of those stores and incorporated them into their shop.

Windansea Boardshop has been open for a little over one year. Erik Thomas, his wife Dawn Thomas, and his two children Peyton and Hannah are all shareholders of the company. The family was living in San Diego and Erik had been retired a few years after selling his last corporation. As an Aquarius water child with a background and passion for all things surfing and ocean related, Windansea was the perfect proposition for Erik and his family. He originally looked to start the company in the San Diego area, yet the market was saturated with local surf shops and the cost of living was unviable.

On a search for decent waves, a pleasant community and a convenient site for a board shop, Erik and his son Peyton took a trip to Cocoa Beach in June 2014 thereafter making 5 more trips through September that year. They then decided that Cocoa Beach was the spot that they wanted to be and loaded up their RV driving across country in 10 days.

“I was blown away when I came to Cocoa Beach and no shops had shaping bays in them,” said Erik.  “Probably 50-70% of the shops in San Diego have that amenity.”


Providing a shaping bay is a huge benefit for the surfing community, thus Erik knew it was imperative to incorporate this into Windansea. To shape a board the going rate is $50 for the instruction fee, and a payment for purchasing the blank. First the customer decides what kind of board they want , then together Erik and the client will device a template for it. Next, Erik  shows the consumer how to lay it out, create a template, put the template on the blank, choose the right blank for the right rocker profile, make sure their board will fit that blank and go through the rest of the process. The average time to shape a board is about 3-4 hours a day. Therefore, depending on the board the total time would be about 12 hours. In the end the surfer ends up with a custom shaped board with fin boxes cut out ready to glass for about $450-470.


“So many people that surf have never built their own board,” said Thomas, “So it is really hands on. This is a nice and safe environment which gives them a chance to come do it.”

In the beginning, Windansea was more geared towards paddle boards. “The fact is the East Coast is about 2 years behind on paddle boarding from the West Coast so we biased towards paddle boarding to try and build that community,” said Erik. However, the surfboard products boomed a lot faster than he anticipated. This year the shop plans on capitalizing bringing more surfboard products in for everybody.

Another noteworthy service Windansea offers is their stock of Infinity and Coreban boards. For those of you who are not familiar, these boards are extremely custom and tailored to performance which have been built for some of the best team members in the industry. These are still known as a surfboard manufacturer, however their paddle boards are extremely specific for the maneuvers they do. For paddle boarders in the area who are looking for a top tier board for high performance, Windansea is able to accommodate them with this brand.

“In my opinion, they are the best made production board out there,” laughed Erik as lifted up his sleeve to reveal his Coreban tattoo on his left bicep. “The running joke is to what level is my commitment.”


As for the skate aspect, that was more of an afterthought. Erik knew he wanted to have the ramp for interaction, yet did not realize the rampant growing market of skateboards and the effect it would have on his shop. Overall, the skate department is about 50% of total transactions in the shop. Windansea is also authorized to repair Carver boards, something no other skate shop in the area provides.


Overall, the positive influential vibe that Windansea provides is moving. This positive energy exchange is something that East Coast shops are slowly starting to catch on to, yet many lack. Windansea Boardshop is more than simply a store, it is a movement;bringing ocean lovers together towards a common purpose.

“With this job I get to meet people and receive that influx which is something I really dig,” said Erik. “I would rather start out a relationship with you and get to know each other so we can grow together and have a good time.” 


Operation Surf


Wednesday, May 2nd– A flock of tattooed men in neon green rash guards gathers in the ocean for what seems to be the average Cocoa Beach surf lesson. However, as prosthetic limbs stand up on foam boards, courage and determination leak through the thick skin of these forceful veterans. With smiles stretched from ear to ear and charismatic stances, Operation Surf manages to bring the surfing community together regardless of disabilities.

Operation Surf first began in 2006 in San Luis Obispo, CA. Van Curaza is the founder of Amazing Surf Adventures, the non-for-profit company that hosts Operation Surf. Curaza created Amazing Surf Adventures through his zest and dedication of surfing with a vision for helping at risk youth. Growing up he recognized that surfing was a positive outlet for him as he struggled with addiction. As an instructor for over 30 years, Van successfully helped disabled students- many of them wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars- catch and ride waves for their first time. Operation Surf was inspired through his enthusiasm to help underprivileged and wounded people. The program teaches active duty and veteran participants how to surf over the period of one week.

Unfortunately, throughout history when we send our troops to war many come back with problems such as PTSD, suicidal thoughts and missing limbs. Some soldiers never make it back home. Operation Surf helps these veterans regain strength, optimism, and a sense of belonging.

“Operation Surf has been amazing and life changing for me,” said  39-year- old Marine veteran Joshua Frey. With Dr.’s insisting on amputation, Frey never gave up hope and has received a total of 22 surgeries to save his right arm. “I got shot in 2004 in my right shoulder in Fallujah. When you get hurt, normally you want to hide. I use exercise to escape but there is a lot of stuff inside of my head  that I try to get rid of and surfing is the perfect remedy. Thanks to Operation Surf I consider myself a part of the community and surfing community now.”

In total, this was the 16th Operation Surf event held, and the second Operation Surf event to be organized in Cocoa Beach. Anywhere from 10-25 active duty and veteran participants are normally active in the event.

“I feel pure peace and happiness when I am surfing,” said 32-year-old Army Veteran Joel Ramos. “After coming to the first event last year I decided to move to Cocoa Beach. Surfing makes me feel like I can do anything, it is simply amazing.” Joel has a prosthetic left leg, yet that does not keep him from enjoying the thrill of surfing waves. After being at Army Brooke Medical Center for his injuries, he was referred to Operation Surf where he was able to regain ambition and passion.

Amanda Curaza, COO and wife of Vance Curaza, explains the healing effects of Operation Surf and how it works to settle issues such as PTSD.

“Throughout the week they experience mental and physical challenges,” said Curaza. “For guys with PTSD and injury problems Operation Surf can trigger things at first. For example, trust issues are a major factor with these men; some have lost the ability to trust. However, we pair them with a surf instructor for one week and work together through these challenges.”

What is more, the community is brought together by Operation Surf. Volunteers help organize the event, and the appreciation participants feel is immense. A sense of coming together is felt throughout the entire event, as if though surf instructors and volunteers are helping to put the pieces of something that was once lost together again.

“My heart fills with joy and happiness when you can take a guy from having extreme PTSD and suicidal thoughts to a whole new zest for life,” said 45-year-old surf instructor Buddy Evans.

Operation Surf will be held through March 7th in front of the Hilton Hotel in Cocoa Beach. In the future, the organization plans to branch out to the UK so that veterans in the UK can share the stoke. If you or a friend are interested in volunteering visit this website:

Mother Nature Leaves First ESA Competition Called Off

      Saturday February 13th-  Sun kissed surfers gathered along the splintered board walk of Spessard Holland Beach South, in hopes of participating in the first ESA contest of the season.While expectations may have been high, Mother Nature had a different plan. The pancake- flat water lapped ever so slightly along the sea shell invaded shores, as the vast orange sun hung low across the navy horizon. It was a haven for your average landscape photographer, yet anything but paradise for partakers in the opening competition.

            “Sometimes when conditions do not cooperate, competitions will be held the next day,” said ESA Central Florida Co-Director Mario DeLuca. “However, in this case I cannot make it so we are going to move it to the next contest day which is March 19th at Lori Wilson.”

DeLuca grew up in South West Miami, and moved to New York when he was in Jr. High. He has been working in the surfing industry for over 10 years. The director started out as a tabulator, moved to a Beach Marshal, then to a director. After running the New York district from Florida for years, he was then elected to be a co-director here in Central Florida. What is more, DeLuca is a surfer as well having ridden everything from a 9’6 long board, experimenting with short boards, and admitting to me that with age and time he prefers long boarding altogether.

ESA originally started in Gilgo Beach, NY and will reach their 50th anniversary next year. There are 27 districts on the East Coast, and there is a West Coast division in California as well. In order to compete, one must be a member of ESA which requires a one time fee of $65.00.  There are also family memberships for $95.00, support memberships for $35.00, and Surfer Magazine memberships for $5.00.

“There are different age divisions and classifications such as long board and short board,” said ESA judge Barry Pasonski. The age divisions range between 11 and under, through 60 and over.

What is more, the ESA is extremely environmentally friendly being primarily affiliated with Clean Water Network and American Ocean’s Campaign. These committees help protect our oceans and environment to ensure clean, safe coastal habitats.

For 19-year-old long board competitor Tyler Timpner, “Days like these are a huge part in surfing. It’s disappointing and frustrating, but you cannot control the conditions especially when competing. You have to learn to surf everything well whether it’s big and choppy or tiny and mushy. And when it’s flat and the contest gets pushed out it sucks but it is part of competing and goes hand in hand with the sport we all are so addicted to.”

Red Bull Gives You Wings, Straight into the Emergency Room

Large companies such as Red Bull, Monster, 5-hour Energy, and Amp, are the essential necessity for many young adults of today.

“I sometimes need that extra push to get through the last few hours of a shift,” said 26-year-old paramedic Mikey Gould. “On some occasions after drinking the plethora of [energy] drinks that are offered I will get a bit jittery and have heart palpitations.” This is coming from the same young man who says that he often witnesses young adults coming into the hospital from the intakes of energy drinks.

“One instance was when I was in paramedic school and doing rounds at the various hospitals. We had a few teenagers come in with racing hearts,” said Mike. “Come to find out they were drinking Red Bull and vodka.”

Another occurrence Mike reported was young children coming into the emergency room exceedingly weak with rapid heartbeats due to energy drink intake before workouts without the consumption of water.

If the paramedic witnesses the hazards of these beverages, yet still guzzles them down, could there possibly be a link to energy drink addiction?

According to, Dr. Dave Moor says, “Caffeine is a drug of dependence, and withdrawal produces agitation – especially in the developing body of a teenager. They can end up in a hospital emergency room with heart palpitations. Like pot, caffeine is a drug, listed in the therapist’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as a potentially serious problem at an intake of only 250 mg.”

However, energy drink companies are adamant that there are no addictive substances in their products.

“Red Bull contains vitamins, taurine, caffeine, sucrose and gluclose,” said a Red Bull employee. “None of which are addictive substances.”

While the controversy may be unresolved and contentious for the time being, some of my recent studies show that the effects of these cocktails are paramount.

“I get anxiety after the consumption of energy drinks,” said 23-year-old Stephanie Aster.

“I have a racing heart and then become anxious,” said 22-year-old Melanie Yates.

26-year old Kristen Ruggiero of Boca Raton developed a heart-murmur after drinking energy drinks for an elapsed period of time.

These are just a few of the many side effects that young adults are experiencing due to consuming these beverages.

“The biggest misconception is that they’re okay to drink them just because they are available for sale,” said Naturopathic Dr. Brian Yuseum.

Yuseum explains that ninety five percent of North Americans suffer from some type of adrenal fatigue, relating to lower back pain due to energy drinks.

“If you do not have enough amino acids and the proper complex carbohydrates to take you through the day and have balanced energy, you are going to be exhausted,” said Yuseum. “If you take an energy drink that further over stimulates the body without the nutrients to recapture your environment you are going to get worse and worse until it is basically poison and becomes a disease state.”

Yuseum explains that what you should do is eat a healthy, balanced breakfast to get you through the day without crashing later.

Nevertheless, with brand names and marketing ploys such as Cocaine, Amp, Monster, and Red Bull (which gives you ‘wings’), it is no wonder why so many young adults are falling into the tactics of these corporations.

In a recent study developed in Boca Raton, forty seven percent of people preferred Red Bull energy drinks, twenty one percent of citizens favored Monster, and thirty percent of the public said they liked miscellaneous drinks such as Amp, Rockstar and 5 Hour Energy Shots.

Not only are these companies damaging the health of our community, but they are targeting our youth, with an array of advertising practices aimed at children and teens, including promotions of their beverages at schools and school-sponsored sporting events.

For instance, on the Florida Atlantic University Press website, the Red Bull skydiving team was promoted for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at The Dubliner Irish Pub.

Furthermore, there are numerous Facebook sites where Red Bull is promoted at FAU to bring forward stimulating events, linked to movies, music, and sports.

What is more, according to the Los Angeles Times, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating reports that five people have died since 2009 after they consumed Monster energy drinks. The investigation was revealed in consideration of 14-year-old Anais Fournier who’s parents sued the company in connection with their daughter’s death.

In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration  issued a report that discovered a severe rise in the number of emergency department visits associated with the use of non-alcohol energy drinks, from 1,128 visits in 2005, to 13,114 in 2009 ( The description noted that energy drinks are targeted to appeal to youth, and are consumed by up to half of children, teenagers and young adults.

“The whole idea is to stay balanced,” said Naturopathic Dr. Brian Yuseum. “It is a highly addictive substance and it is something that someone needs education on before they start putting into their bodies without knowing anything about.”

US Veterans Prescribed Lethal Drugs to Treat PTSD


Evidence shows a number of US war veterans were issued a variety of potentially deadly pharmaceuticals to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including the dangerous antipsychotic drug Seroquel. Pleas from the families of deceased veterans finally persuaded the U.S. Central Command to remove the dangerous antipsychotic from the list of military PTSD treatments.

The decision came last March after stories of numerous veterans’ deaths could no longer be suppressed. One such example was former Sergeant Eric Layne who died from consumption of drug cocktails containing Seroquel. After serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom with his wife Janette, Sgt. Layne suffered an agonizing death from antipsychotic drug treatments. Though the decision to remove Seroquel from the list of often-prescribed PTSD medications is a step in the right direction, the potential impact of the drug has recently expanded to consumer markets.

In 2011, ABC News reported that AstraZeneca’s patent for Seroquel expired, allowing for generic versions of the powerful drug to be manufactured and sold throughout the country. Sadly, information about Seroquel and similar drugs is often kept hidden from the public, leaving consumers of generic brands unaware of corporate deceit and veteran deaths.


Martha Rosenburg, “Controversial Drug Receives Military Restrictions and FDA Warnings as Its Patent Expires,” TruthOut, June 27, 2012,

Martha Rosenburg, “Are Veterans Being Given Deadly Cocktails to Treat PTSD?.” Alter Net, May 5, 2010,