The final day of the Nixon Surf Challenge from San Sebastian and the madness it entails
And then they both grabbed beers. Still dripping wet from their semifinal heat, Cheyne Magnusson and Dylan Graves couldn't help it. It just felt right. Kind of how the Metallica that was blasting "Battery" across the beach at that very moment felt right. And how the fact that they both made the final together and still had the shakes from the night before felt right. It's just how the Nixon Surf Challenge is. The guys having the most fun will prevail. And Cheyne and Dylan definitely win in that category. The morning after our massive, food-fight riddled dinner at one of San Sebastian's nicest restaurants La Perla, which was over 70 people deep, including every person involved with the contest and anyone else who just liked fun, it makes sense that Cheyne would ask before the final, "How did I end up here?"
After losing first round, Cheyne surfed through the losers bracket and even managed to take out younger brother Clay Marzo in the semis by demolishing the very Haleiwa-like 8-foot righthand bowls. Everything was coming together. Dylan, the defending champ of the event was getting impossible barrels. Cheyne was doing blow-tails like Clay in reverse. And it was on for the final. Joining the two were Jonathan Gonzales and the recently WCT certified Tiago Pieres. Tiago managed to score a 24 out of a possible 10 from some judges (seriously) on a wave during his semi. They even thought of just handing him the trophy early after the double barrel to two impossible lip bashes so they could get on with the beach party that would follow.
As the finalists paddled out and the judges all grabbed drinks, the Metallica was cued once again and the show began. Hundreds lined the sand and the judges scaffolding began to sway from all the happy people dancing on it. "This is how all contests should be," said one judge. "Music, people cheering, Mariachi bands, dancing, surfing, Metallica. Not an uptight person in the house. Even the competitors are relaxed."
While the jury is still out on that, no one can deny how serious the Nixon crew is about fun. As the surfers came in after the final in which Tiago Pires won with some serious tuberiding again, taking home 5,000 Euros, the party began. As if it hadn't already.
The tents from the contest were turned into dance floors and one of the biggest parties yet began right there on the beach. Dancing and drinks would escalate into blood and nudity from ill-fated bush jumps. Rick Whitlock then led the troops into the old town of San Sebastian by bike, cradling a vending machine, grilled cheese and wearing teal headband.
And just like that, as foggy as it started, it ended. With memories only available via the few digital cameras that made it through the night, we all woke to Jason Bennett saying, "You know your body shuts down after five days of this." Which is now constantly playing back in everyone's head. You suddenly begin to be thankful for two things that next mooning: The fact that you got to be a part of it and the fact that it's over.
After farewells and way too many cheers' the heathen crew disbanded and went their separate ways––but in no way will anyone be the same again.
Check out www.NixonSurfChallange.com for a full wrap up of the event and photo galleries.