Whacky Beach Volleyball Tournament Replaces 6-Man As Top Beach Party Event in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach
There’s been a passing of the party torch in the South Bay.
Smackfest, the 19-year-old beach volleyball tournament, is now King of the Beach Cities when it comes to fun and entertaining events. The once-untouchable Manhattan Beach Surfest and its 6-man tournament is so yesterday, so in the past, like neon volley shorts. We’re over it. Time for the “new kid” to shine.
It’s Kobe Bryant giving way to Lebron James, Peyton Manning vacating Indianapolis for Andrew Luck, Ryan Lochte flying past Michael Phelps in Olympic swimming.
Like Lochte, Smackfest been there the whole time, but was under the radar when the Phelps of the beach events – 6-man – was winning all the Gold Medals for South Bay socializing.
Now, though, it has the top spot on the podium.
Smackfest has always been fun, the best of all the coed four-man volleyball tournaments. For years, it was a bigger and slightly better than the Volleyball Ventures Halloween tournament; in both, teams dress up in themed costumes and the level of play is secondary to the level of the how much fun the players are having during the day.
But the past few events, Smackfest has risen like a skyball serve. It’s no longer a sideshow to the Hermosa Beach summer action, it’s the main focal point for a day. After the highly successful 2012 tournament, locals are already putting the final Saturday of July in their smart phone calendars for next year.
“I had no idea it was like this now,” said one local who had not been to Smackfest since playing in it several years ago. “This is a real event. It blew me away.”
To that, we should all grab a Bud Light and give a big “cheers’ to Bill Sigler.
The long-time professor of beach volleyball in the South Bay and owner of Smack Sportswear has taken a goofy little 4-man tournament and continually added elements to broaden its appeal, while at the same time making sure the silliness of the costumes continue.
Today, there is a huge tent on the beach with a DJ pumping out nightclub music. In 2012, Sigler added to other elements that took things to an even higher level, a swimwear/fashion show and a 4-man demonstration featuring professional players. Even the most casual volleyball player could not help but marvel at the level of play of the 4-man teams (which consisted of women as well as men). All up and down the beach all day, people were talking about it: “Have you seen any of that 4-man? That play is incredible!”
The fashion show may have been a PG version of the old bikini contests that were once a fixture at pro beach volleyball tournaments, but that alone made a statement. Smackfest may have sex appeal, but it’s also classy.
It’s also a heck of a lot of fun, and not just for the 800 players who take up four blocks of courts north of the Hermosa Beach Pier. With pirate ships, ice vikings, grass skirts, Tropic Thunder and all manner of creative team themes, walking between the courts is almost like being at a Jimmy Buffett concert, where you walk up and down the rows of motorhomes.
There’s one notable difference, tho; at Buffett shows there are portable tiki bars and blenders churning with margaritas. Everyone has a drink in their hand. At Smackfest, the drinking must be done off the beach.
And so the players go in and out of the the official bar, Sharkeez, where Sigler has arranged for specials such as $3 Bud Lights. Or, they go to a private rooftop above Palmilla where their entry fee actually includes the beer. People crowd around the jockey box jockeying for position to put their cups under the tap handle. A DJ is playing music and girls are dancing on a platform.
It’s like being at a house party that were once so prevalent in the South Bay prior to the upgrading of the lower Pier area a decade or so ago.
There’s also some spillover in other bars; Waterman’s was a popular post-tournament watering hole in 2012.
So while Smackfest is really taking off and heading into for 20th year next summer, 6-man’s future could be like that of Phelps: headed into retirement.