Holiday break means something different for everyone.

For the people who ventured down to Torrance Beach Saturday, Dec. 21, it was about surfing for a cause: the 15th annual Ratopia Surf Classic.

"I initially intended the event to be the Saturday before Christmas because a lot of people and friends come home," event coordinator Nick Weber said. "It's a common time to see old friends, and a time where people can travel and make special trips."

While conditions were not ideal for a surf contest, the 90-plus surfers in the water made due with the waves they were given.

"(The conditions) are tricky. We've had some bad luck over the last few years," said 2010 Palos Verdes High graduate Cassidy Beukema. "Last year was fun, but you have to make the best of what you get."

Now a Los Angeles County Lifeguard, Beukema took first in the women's final. Having attended Ratopia for 12 years, Beukema originally came out to support Denny Bales, a close friend who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

"(Ratopia) is an event where the community really comes together and surfs for a friend," Beukema said.

2018 PV High graduate Will Allen calls Ratopia his favorite surf event of the year.

"It's an amazing gathering of the community," Allen said. "There's a lot of younger kids and older guys that were cool to us growing up, and it's all about supporting the cause."

Allen, a sophomore at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, didn't see the conditions as anything but typical Torrance Beach.

"This was classic Torrance growing up. We'd surf this every day—it's always closed out and small," Allen said. "You just have to go out and have fun, and not take it too seriously. When the waves are bad, you just have to go. When you get a corner, you have to be ready to surf it because it doesn't happen a lot."

Despite the flat conditions, judge Mike Purpus said you still have to make due.

"Everyone rides the same waves, and it's about whoever does the most on the wave," Purpus said. "We take into consideration who rides the wave the furthest, and makes the hardest maneuver. It's about what they do on that wave that determines how high the score is."

Weber, who participated in the body surfing portion of Saturday's event, knows people can still have fun despite the small waves.

"This is a spot everyone grew up surfing. Even when it's bad and closed out, people can still have fun," Weber said. "The weather has been great, and the wind is down. Every division is full of excellent surfers, and it makes it great for spectators."

Palos Verdes sophomore James Maxwell, who took first place in the boys 14-18 short board, knew the only way to get points was to catch whatever he could.

"There were a lot of one-turn waves," Maxwell said. "You just have to try and get up and get one turn. There's no other way to get points—thankfully, I get the best two waves."

Maxwell, who began attending Ratopia in fifth grade, enjoys the relaxed atmosphere.

"It's a super chill contest, and not really competitive at all," Maxwell said. "All of my buddies are in the water, and it's a really fun, easy going competition."

LLS Executive Director Shannon Sullivan and campaign manager Racheli Peltier came down to show their support as well.

"What I love about this event is it celebrates everything that matters about LLS," Sullivan said. "What we care about is raising funds for cures for cancer. It's great that (Ratopia) rallied around one person, brought the community together and is still going strong."

This year, Ratopia raised more than $8,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Since its inception, Ratopia has raised more than $140,000 to the LLS.

Divisions: - Men's Shortboard (ages 19 and up) 1st. Chris Stimpfl - Boy's Shortboard (ages 14-18) 1st. James Maxwell IV - Grom's Shortboard (ages 13 and under) 1st. Matheus Sperb - Longboard (all ages) 1st. Brendan Castile - Womens (all ages) 1st. Cassidy Beukema - Body Surfing (all ages) 1st. Cameron Nelligan - Dasher's Dash 5K (all ages) Mens - 1st, Ron Sannes Womens - 1st, Katie Pomerantz

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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