The best year was when Tom Curren won it back in the late nineties I think it was. For the most part you have the pros on the main peak. Amateurs on the second to really the thirdish peak. Warm up area is no mans land and totally sucks til you get to around 5th street. What the best thing to do that weekend is to go down south and surf Hatteras. All the pros and wannabes are up in VB and you'll have your pick of breaks with the least amount of aggroness in the water. Prime time of year to be down there as well. Last year was smoking in Rodanthe on Ecsc week and the week after.
I try to support surfing, I like to run to stay fit so I usually show up down their and do the race and by an event t-shirt. I tell you last year we did a 8k and they didn't even have any cold water for us when we were done I tell you just lame stuff + 35 bucks just to do a out and back race. Not this year though those people are all about the money. They can keep it. I will support the steel peer classic that is a cool event.
Its fun to go down and watch a bit. Always gives me some focused stoke when i get out in the water. Surfing can be considered a contest in and of itself. Always trying to get the best wave. its me and the mother ocean in harmony