SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW)– Today on the South Strand, Carolina Cup pro-am Surf Fest kicked off day one of the three-day competition with day one being only the professionals.

Phil Jackson, the Executive Director of the Surf Dreams Foundation said this isn’t the only pro-am Surf Fest on the East Coast, but he said it’s likely the only one offering the more than $17,000 cash prize.

Luke Gordon, a 23-year-old pro-surfer from Pawleys Island said he is going for the gold this year.

“I won two years ago, he said. “I got third last year and this year I am going for the gold.”

Gordon said he has been surfing for most of his life. He said he is back this year to get the prize money.

“I wanna win,” Gordon said.

Each professional division champion gets at least $5,000, an attractive award to surfers all over the East Coast and of all ages.

Asher Craft, 13-years-old from Virginia Beach, Virginia said if she made it to the finals she would put it towards her surfboard that is being delivered right now.

Phil Jackson with Surf Dreams Foundation said this year the Carolina Cup Surf Fest is offering the biggest cash prize yet, but the organization’s goal for the event has stayed the same since the first year, to use surfing to bring people together.

“I wanted to bring something of this size to the community and show people what surfing is all about,” Jackson said.

Craft, the 13-year-old Swimmer from Virginia said it’s a lot of fun.

“Just hanging out with each other,” Craft said. “Just surfing with my friends.”

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Claire Purnell is a multimedia journalist at News13. Claire is from Louisville, Kentucky. Claire joined the News13 team in January 2023 after graduating from the University of Colorado-Boulder in December 2022. Follow Claire on Twitter and read more of her work here.