Tommy Tant’s parents Tom, left, and Barbara right, are greeted by family friend Lowell Stephens, center. Stephens has beaten the odds as a 70-year-old survivor of Marfan syndrome. Photo by Christine Rodenbaugh
Will Tant, former professional surfer and tournament organizer, and Clarissa Orth watch the competition Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021 at the Tommy Tant Memorial Surf Classic in Flagler Beach. Photo by Christine Rodenbaugh
Kelli O’Reilly has volunteered at the raffle booth for at least 8 years. Her children, Reilly Maresca, a freshman at FSU, and Molly Maresca, a senior at FPC, will apply for the Tant Scholarship. Photo by Christine Rodenbaugh
Announcers Phil Jackson, left, and Travis Ajay, right, keep the contestants and spectators informed during each heat of the Tommy Tant Memorial Surf Classic , Nov. 13-14 in Flagler Beach. Photo by Christine Rodenbaugh.
The Tommy Tant Memorial Surf Classic celebrates the life of a local surf standout, and three local surfers were celebrated for winning the three pro divisions during the 20th-annual event. More than 200 surfers competed Nov. 13-14 near the Flagler Beach Pier.
Tant died unexpectedly in 1998 from an aortic aneurysm. The 24-year-old athlete was unaware he had inherited Marfan syndrome, a disorder that affects connective tissue.
The first four contests were organized by Dan Worley, Katie McNitt, Jamie Dittbender and Fran Noble to remember Tant and embrace the Tant family. In the fifth year, they handed the contest over to Tant’s younger brother, pro surfer Will Tant.
“It’s still a community effort,” Will Tant said. “That’s the beauty of it. For 20 years, the community has come together to support the event and my family.”
Proceeds support the Tommy Tant Memorial Scholarship, the Flagler Food Bank and the National Marfan Foundation. The event raises awareness for Marfan syndrome and related disorders, many of which cause aortic aneurysms.
Will Tant was proud that locals captured first place in all three professional divisions on Saturday, Nov. 13:
Men’s Pro — Robbie McCormick
Women’s Pro — Haley Stephens
Pro Junior — Ryan Huckabee
Sunday’s competition featured amateurs and included a Memorial Paddle Out at noon. Will Tant explained that it’s a tradition among surfers to paddle out and join hands while on their boards.
“The movement of the ocean will push out from the center to create a perfect circle of everyone who’s joined hands,” he said. “It’s really special.”
To view the results, go to https://www.liveheats.com/events/6114