"There's only one rule: You can't be barbarians." I'm surrounded by a pack of children, desperately trying to keep the peace while handing out inflatable pool toys for SURFING Magazine's annual Show Up And Blow Up heat at the 2015 NSSA National Championships. But they're not listening. And they're certainly not abiding. They're all shouting and grabbing, reaching with their pesky little Viking hands into an Amazon cardboard box filled with the goods. It's chaotic. After all, Huntington Beach does have riots in its nature.
Eventually, the inflatables are distributed without the riot. Dolphins, turtles, dragons, whales, stingrays and even a pretzel? Weird. The kids inflate them — some by the strength of the lung, others by the wisdom of knowing where the air compressor is — then take to the south side of the pier in a colorful fury. There are tandem rides. 360s. Alligator rolls. Everything. I declare a winner (or, winners) based on a mixture speed, power, flow and because I said so. They were the first of many little champions today.
The Show Up And Blow Up heat kick-started a Rambo belt of finals. Not coincidentally, things got a little bit more serious from there.
Seth Moniz and Caroline Marks — who, ahem, were chosen by SURFING Magazine as the Number 1 contenders in both the Open Mens and Open Womens divisions — waltzed off with titles in the two premier divisions. For Marks, it was the second straight Open Womens crown. It was also a back-to-back win for Moniz. Or, that'd be better said as the Monizes. Seth's older brother Josh won Open Mens last year. With Josh having graduated, 2015 was Seth's time to
shine win the damn thing. Dem some good genes.
Seven more finals were surfed before day's end — check back for full results. And the barbarianism displayed in the Show Up And Blow Up very much translated into surfing. Kids were clawing, spinning, shouting, landing. They were competing. Hard. But even so, they were having fun. And maybe that's the beauty of NSSA Nationals.
Some of these kids will wind up on the 'CT one day. They'll get 10s in Fiji and give generic post heat interviews everywhere. But today at Nationals, they were just tiny heathens trying to claim the oversized turtle for some a little bit of fun before they surfed their Open Boys final. And ain’t that something to see? —Brendan Buckley