The flames of rivalries were stoked, lines were drawn in the sand (only to be erased by the high tide), and in the end it came down to brother against brother (sort of) at the 2008 Red Bull Riders Cup National Championships. Held on a cobblestone point known simply as “Church", swell poured through the weekend of June 14th and 15th, granting an opportunity for the best high school surf squads from around the country to test both their mettle and manhood.
It started with eight. Eight teams, eight of the best and brightest from every corner of the continental U.S. came to Church on Sunday with one thing on their minds, and while all the coaches gave their disciples fitful sermons, deeds done in the lineup were anything but holy. Jerey'sOcean City High, Florida's Satellite Beach High, and Santa Cruz's Soquel, all arrived with a willingness to sin.
By the time the final rolled around at 4:00 on Saturday, with broken boards and deflated adolescent egos strewn about, there would only be two teams left, two teams which maybe not so coincidentally,were caught in the midst of a border dispute over who actually lived closest to the break. Local knowledge—and a fair bit of talent—saw San Clemente High and Carlsbad High square off for the fortune and glory of it all.
By Sabbath’s end Carlsbad, thanks in large part to the brilliant surfing of Gabe Garcia (which earned him MVP honors) had upended San Clemente, 78 to 83 (even though it was deemed San Clemente lived closer). "We had a solid team, you couldn't ask for better surfing conditions, the kids surf traditional contests all the time, but they really look forward to working as a team and competing at Red Bull Riders Cup," says Carlsbad coach, David Barr.
Garcia drove the team to victory with his consistency throughout the entire competition. "San Clemente High was a super good team; they did some great surfing and it was close until the very end, we're pumped to be the national champions."
The Red Bull Riders Cup is not your typical surf contest. Nope, this one’s actually interesting. Established in 2001 by surf luminary, Brad Gerlach, the National Surf Leauge’s “Game” format, is based around a team-format, with coaches, time-outs, refs, and even classy introductions. The mantra reads “dedicated to the pursuit of surfing excellence, building awareness for the sport of surfing while creating a fun competitive landscape for all types of surfers.
"I'm really impressed with the surfing community; we've had over fifty professional surfers come out to support, coach, and referee the games,” says Gerlach. “There is no other surf event that brings the professional surfing community out to help the kid’s progress.”
And if you didn’t see all the action live from the beach, VBS.tv, home of the online surf show Hi-Shredability, has been documenting the story of the NSL and Red Bull Riders Cup since the beginning. Don’t miss their documentary about the Red Bull Riders Cup, coming September 2008.
So, in the end Carlsbad High goes home the national champs, and with it comes an entire year’s worth of bragging rights, which ain’t half bad. But considering the talent level, repeating could prove to be a dicey proposition come next season.
Saturday June 14, 2008/ Round One
Game One: San Clemente High (OC) def. Mira Costa High (South Bay)
Game Two: Ocean City High (NJ) def. Jupiter High (SFL)
Game Three: Carpinteria (Ventura) High def. Satellite High (CFL)
Game Four: Soquel High (SC) def. Carlsbad High (SD)
Sunday June 15, 2008/ Semifinals
Game One: San Clemente High (OC) def. Ocean City High (NJ)
Game Two: Carlsbad High (SD) def. Carpinteria (Ventura)
National Championships Game:
Carlsbad High def San Clemente High
Most Valuable Player – Gabe Garcia, Carlsbad High
Most Radical Maneuver – Riley Metcalf, San Clemente High School