Ensenada, Mexico—The 27th Annual Mexican Surf Fiesta, presented by No Fear went off last weekend, October 4 – 6, with an innovative new twist. In the middle of the 2-Star rated WQS event was the Sweet 16, the first-ever NSSA specialty contest held in conjunction with an ASP event.
For Saturday morning's Sweet 16 heats, the San Miguel point break came to life, with clean and rip-able shoulder to head-high lines groomed by offshore breezes. With $7500 in prize money and a wildcard berth in the Mexican Surf Fiesta on the line, the NSSA riders were blowing it up. Flying in from Kilauea, Hawaii, Nathan Rex made the trip worth his while. His top-to-bottom, rail-to-rail surfing in conditions resembling classic Lower Trestles, scored Rex the Sweet 16 victory and $2,500 first place prize money. After his win, Rex had this to say about the first-ever Sweet 16. "The contest was super-sick, the waves were excellent…I'd love to come back and do this contest again."
Fellow Hawaiian, Kiron Jabour (Waianae), hacked and cracked his way into 2nd place, good for $1,000. NSSA 2007 Open Juniors Champ, Andrew Doheny dazzled the crowd with some nice blow-tail moves on his way to third place and $800, and Mike McCabe swiped $600 for 4th place.
As the top Sweet 16 finisher not already entered in the Mexican Surf Fiesta, Dane Zaun snapped up No Fear's wild card berth and leap-frogged right into the round of 64 in the 2-Star rated event. Zaun made it through his first heat, but got taken down in the next round. Reigning NSSA Open Women's Champ, sweet Carissa Moore, came out firing on all cylinders in her first heat of the QS event, nailing a 10-point score and winning the heat over male competitors. Unfortunately for Carissa, she didn't advance in her second heat.
"The goal of the Sweet 16 is to build a bridge connecting the ASP and the NSSA," says Britt Galland, No Fear's VP of Marketing. "The concept seems to work, as several of the NSSA stars hand-picked to surf in the Sweet 16 also entered the 2-Star WQS event. Several NSSA competitors, including Sweet 16 winner Nathan Rex, Kiron Jabour Alex Smith, Dane Zaun, and 13-year-old Kolohe Andino made a little cash and banked some valuable WQS ratings points by advancing to the round of 32.
"I thought the Sweet 16 event was awesome and a great fit to be in conjunction with a WQS event," said NSSA Executive Director, Janice Aragon. "The WQS is the goal for any graduating NSSA surfer, and the more experience they can have at a WQS setting the better. I was proud of our surfer’s performances. The main thing was that it was a success to our kids. They absolutely loved the event and the format. They all had a great time, but on top of that getting the opportunity to compete at a higher level with each other was the major benefit."
The No Fear Mexican Surf Fiesta wrapped up on Saturday afternoon with an action packed final. Brad Ettinger of Huntington Beach took the win and $5,000 prize money, with Hawaii's Billy Kemper taking second place and $2500. Ventura's Adam Virs occupied the third spot on the podium, banking $2,000, and Hawaii's Evan Valiere earned $1,500 for finishing 4th.
To see video footage from the Sweet 16, go to www.nssa.org or www.nofearsurf.com.