OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City local did this month what he had never done before — secured a place in the Hawaiian U.S. Pro Tour body boarding contest’s finals.
The United States Bodyboarding Association’s (USBA) Pro Tour just held its stop in Hawaii for the Sandy Beach Pro on July 7-8 where local Brian Stoehr placed fourth in the contest, leaving him ranked third overall, as he heads to the final contest, Jenks Pro, at Jenkinson’s Beach, N.J., on Sept. 1.
“This is the best I’ve ever been sitting going into the final event,” said Stoehr, who has won the overall title for U.S. National Pro Tour DK Champion based on points twice before, at the age of 29 and 30.
Stoehr has been competing in the USBA Pro Tour for 14 years now. When he started competing in the sport as a career, he was 19 years old. Previously he competed in amateur competitions in the area, such as the Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) contests.
“I have been surfing sense I was 6 years old so I have been in the water my whole life and somehow I was able to turn my hobby, or what I did when I was a little kid into a profession,” Stoehr said.
Every year Stoehr participates in the USBA Open in Huntington Beach, Calif. to enter into the tour. This year’s Open was held June 1-3 where Stoehr was ranked in seventh place.
The tour’s next stop was the Sandy Beach Pro where Stoehr had a change of pace.
“This one was a little different for me where it’s been over 20 years since anyone from the east coast of the U.S. has made the U.S. Pro Tour Finals,” Stoehr said.
The last boarder to be ranked so high coming out of a Hawaiian contest was also an Ocean City local, Jay Reale. He was the first-ever pro body boarder from the east coast and now owns eBodyboarding, who endorsed Stoehr in the competition.
“This was the guy I looked up to growing up as a professional body boarder, and he is probably the most successful body boarder ever,” Stoehr said.
Besides becoming the second most successful body boarder from the east coast, Stoehr explained the Sandy Beach Pro is a challenge in itself due to Hawaii’s notorious larger waves, along with his competitors being so accustomed to the tropical waters.
“When you think of surfing in Hawaii obviously you don’t think it’s like surfing in Maryland, so if you look at the contests finalists they are all Hawaiian and then me,” Stoehr said.
In the past, Stoehr has always managed to make it to the events semi-finals in Hawaii but never the top heat and never the USBA Pro Tour Final.
“Every time that I seem to accomplish a goal in the later part of my career it is surreal,” Stoehr said. “I am living the dream I had when I was a little kid. I am very fulfilled and very grateful for everything I have ever gotten to do.”