Watch out for that Frisbee — or, rather, scores of them.
Santa Monica’s beaches often host recreational games of catch with the trademarked flying disc, but this weekend they will feature a couple thousand players in a tournament that draws locals and visitors from around the world as well as hordes of supporters and spectators.
It’ll be the 16th edition of an annual extravaganza known as Lei-Out, a play on the phrase used by the sport’s enthusiasts to describe diving horizontally to catch the flying disc. What started as a small, informal gathering in 1999 has ballooned into one of the biggest and most competitive coed ultimate tournaments in the world.
The Jan. 17-18 event could translate into boosted revenue for area businesses, although it may also mean additional traffic on the beach and in downtown Santa Monica on the weekend preceding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
The two-day competition will take place on the beach between the Santa Monica Pier and the Annenberg Community Beach House, a popular 1.5-mile stretch that will be converted into a mosaic of sandy sports fields.
Event organizers were not immediately available for comment.
“Lei-Out … is dedicated to continuing to grow the sport of Beach Ultimate by strengthening competition in the local, national, and global Beach Ultimate community,” the company’s website reads. “We strive to produce the best tournament experiences for all of our participants.”
The tournament will include more than 250 total teams in several different divisions, many of them with snarky names like Better Leied Than Never, Notorious P.I.G., Sun of a Beach and Tequila Mockingbird.
Players will descend on Santa Monica from throughout California, including San Diego, Santa Barbara and the San Francisco Bay Area. Participants will also represent numerous states, including Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania and New York, and countries like Germany and Canada.
“It’s no coincidence that it’s in January and attracting people from other parts of the country,” said Brian Dracup, a Santa Monica native who lives in British Columbia. “Here in Vancouver, it rains almost every day this time of year. All my friends are looking forward to going down and being in the sunshine in the middle of winter.”
Lei-Out is doubling as a homecoming of sorts for Dracup, who attended Roosevelt Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools before graduating from Santa Monica High School in 1993. Coincidentally, he didn’t know about the tournament until after making travel plans to visit family in the area.
Dracup grew up playing soccer, although he always enjoyed throwing around a Frisbee as a secondary pastime. He’s since become active in ultimate circles in Vancouver, and he’s looking forward to playing on his home turf.
“Santa Monica’s beach is amazing for ultimate because it’s so wide,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of traveling, and you don’t see a lot of beaches as expansive as that. Not many places could put on a tournament of this scale.”