Angela Strong had heard all about the Ratopia Surf Classic from her teammates on the Palos Verdes High surf team.

Just a sophomore, Strong saw last Saturday's event as the first of many she'll attend.

"I heard a lot about Ratopia," Strong said. "I decided this was the year, and I'm super stoked I came out. I can't for next year."

The 14th annual Ratopia Surf Classic went off without a hitch on Dec. 22, and even event coordinator Nick Weber found himself in the water for a pair of events.

"If the waves are fun, I'm ready to go," said Weber, who graduated from Peninsula High in 2002 and now resides in Northern California. "This is the spot everyone grew up surfing, and it's really fun coming home."

Ratopia donates its proceeds to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society following fellow surfer Denny Bales' battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2005.

While it takes on the look of a surf contest, those participating know Ratopia is a great, yearly event for an amazing cause.

"It's all about raising money, and having a fun time doing it," PV senior Cameron Nelligan said. "All of my boys are out here today."

As in years past, the PV contingent had a strong showing at Ratopia. 10 current members of the Sea King surf team participated, with seven graduated taking to the water as well.

Will Allen, a 2018 PV graduate, sees Ratopia as a big reunion.

"This event is about coming home and being with the people I love," said Allen, who currently attends Point Loma Nazarene University. "This community raises people that surf. A lot of my old mentors are down here."

Since its inception, Ratopia has donated more than $134,000 to the LLS.

"My favorite thing about (Ratopia) is seeing everyone supporting LLS, and seeing Denny (Bales)," Allen said.

The event kicked off with its first heat at 7 a.m., with former PV teammates Allen and Hayden Gunson competing in the first longboard heat of the day. The early morning hours provided high tide for those first in the water, but PV's Rodney Buck could see that when the tide began to drop, conditions would get a little more surf able.

"The surf will be better when the tide drops," he said. "The sandbar should get better."

As the morning gloom began to wear off and the tide began to drop, it created a picturesque backdrop for Ratopia to continue into the afternoon.

"Everyone is just super-stoked to be out here," Nelligan said. "No one really cares about the competition, it's just about having fun. (Ratopia) brings the community together."

Weber sees that community come together each year, and he's beginning to see different faces than he has in years past.

"There's a lot of PV kids here, and a lot of new parents bringing their kids down," Weber said. "(Ratopia) has expanded into a new generation."

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