Charlie Saikley Beach Volleyball Tournament’s Return To A Saturday Helps Boost Participation
After a slow start in which only a handful of teams had signed up, registration for the 2017 Charlie Saikley Manhattan Beach 6-man beach volleyball tournament jumped in the final days, resulting in a respectable number of competitors as the event moves back to a Saturday for the first time in several years.
A total of 75 teams signed up for the event, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Aug. 4-5 at the Manhattan Beach Pier. This includes 35 in the premier Men’s Open division. Registration closed on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
“Last week the number was in the upper 40s, and now we’re looking at 75 teams,” Archie Sherman, Recreation Supervisor, Sports Division, for the Manhattan Beach Parks & Recreation, which puts on the event, said on the final day of registration. “People rushed to sign up at the end.
“If this year’s are established earlier – it was a pretty small window – we would have even more teams. If we keep the same Friday/Saturday schedule next year, I’m sure we would get a lot more teams.”
A couple months ago, the Manhattan Beach City Council voted to move the date to include a Saturday from its originally scheduled Thursday and Friday. That was promoted when so few teams signed up that the tournament might have been reduced to a single day.
Sherman said a total of 16 courts would be used for this year’s tournament. In the event’s heyday, 42 courts were used and there were 200 teams.
For many years, the tournament – a part of the international lifeguard competition known as Surfest – was held on a Saturday and Sunday.
It was famous for having teams dress up in themed costumes, ranging from WWF wrestlers – complete with a ring they put around the court while they were playing – Team Fletch dressed in LA Lakers uniforms (and actually attracting a few past and present Lakers players), French Maids, Masters Caddies, mullet-wearing 80s rockers and a team dressed in aloha shirts supported by a hilarious guy on a megaphone, the ever-popular and multiple-time winner Magnum p.i.
Sometime around 2000, the tournament exploded as thousands of spectators flooded the area around the courts, the enforcement of California’s no-alcohol on the beach law was lax, to say the least and parties at houses near the pier took place up and down The Strand.
An aggressive response, led by the police chief at the time, led to the tournament being moved to a Tuesday and Wednesday, severely reducing the number of competitors available and willing to play.
It eventually moved to a Wednesday and Thursday, then Thursday and Friday, before this year having the second day – and one involving the top teams, which are filled with the world’s top indoor players making the quality of play equal to that of the Olympics – being on a Saturday.
“The men’s open is very, very competitive,” Sherman said. Among the teams are Fletch, 12th Street Sangria and Team Soho, which features current Lakers coach Walton. Also on the rosters of teams in the tournament is LA Clippers star Deandre Jordan and Richard Jefferson of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Sherman credits the move to a Saturday with perhaps saving the tournament. At the very least, he said the boost in the number of teams keeps it as a traditional two-day event.
“Thank goodness hardcore people still played in the tournament during the week,” Sherman said. “We kept moving the dates closer to weekend and lowering the price, and still numbers dipped every year. If were were just on Friday this year, we probably would be looking at having it on just one day.
“But the downtown association stepped up and said ‘oh no, let’s get at least half of it back on the weekend.’
“It’s definitely working.”
Sherman said the security – mainly staff checking backpacks to keep people from bringing alcohol onto the beach – will be the same as last year. That means limited entrance points but no barricades on the beach, tho there will be barricades on The Strand north and south of the pier as police request people walk their bikes through the area.