The top high school surfers in the country gathered this weekend in San Clemente to compete in the Red Bull Riders Cup National Championship, bringing with them ideal weather and near-perfect waves. With a powerful swell pouring through Upper Trestles at San Onofre Beach all weekend long, the teams were given the chance to test their mettle and show their skills in the premiere high school surfing competition. The eight teams - all of whom had earned their National Championship spots by dominating local rivals in Regional Championships - came from Florida, New Jersey and all up and down the Southern California coast. The competition was fierce from the get-go, but in the end it came down to a grudge match between Mira Costa High and San Dieguito Academy that could only be settled in overtime. When all was said and done, Mira Costa High School took the win and with it the bragging rights as 2009 Red Bull Riders Cup National Champions.
"This was simply an amazing Championship, and exactly what the Red bull Riders Cup is all about,” said Brad Gerlach, National Surf League Founder. "In the Finals we had two well-matched teams and a format that really allows the kids to show off and highlight their skills. It had it all - drama, suspense, disappointment, exhilaration and a nail-biting finale. This is why we do it."
The two days of competition saw some amazing surfing, but it was the Finals and their "down to the wire" finish that really had everyone talking. In the first period of the Finals Mira Costa won the coin toss and decided to surf first, taking to the water in clean conditions with 4-6 foot waves. Mira Costa got off to a solid start, led by a period high score of 7.5 by Dayton Silva. But San Dieguito responded in kind, with an overall strong team showing, taking the lead and leaving Mira Costa trailing at the end of the first period, 24.5 to 25 points.
In the second period, Mira Costa dominated with great rides that put up high scores across the board. Due to some missed opportunities, San Dieguito was unable to hold their lead, and ended up trailing by 2 points. As the third period began, Mira Costa made their intentions known from the get go, with Dane Zaun posting an amazing 8.5 ride. Unfortunately, the rest of the team was unable to score higher than a 6.5, leaving the door just slightly open for San Dieguito to make a comeback. The pressure was on, as San Dieguito was faced with the daunting task of needing 27 points to win - an average of 6.5 -7.0 rides for each surfer. With only 4 minutes left, it looked like it was over as San Dieguito hadn't scored nearly enough points and needed a miracle to win. But the miracle came – in the form of a four wave set - and with every rider scoring strong points, the team from San Diego was able to earn a tie, taking them to overtime.
Overtime saw Mira Costa supply excellent performances from all surfers, but it was an 8.5 score from Dane Zaun that really delivered, pushing their total to 24 points - 98 overall.
San Dieguito was once again faced with a hard task, needing 25 points. They got off to a rough start, with multiple surfers going down in early waves. With little time remaining, the set they needed once again came rolling in and the crowd waited anxiously to see if they could pull off another miracle. Unfortunately, this time it was not to be, as the miracle fell short, with the final score: Mira Costa -98, San Dieguito – 96.
For more info go to www.redbullsurfing.com/riderscup
"This was definitely the best surfing event I've ever participated in," said Mira Costa High MVP Dane Zaun. “The waves were near perfect, and we worked really hard for this win, surfing two games today plus the overtime. This was a team effort, and I'm so proud we were all able to hold it together to snatch victory"
"This was our year," says Mira Costa coach Joe Lederer. "I just had a gut feeling going into it. These are an amazing group of kids who really came together and gave an amazing performance out there. I may have coached the games, but they are definitely the ones that deserve all the credit."
Red Bull Riders Cup is the nations' premier high school surfing competition, and in 2009 brought together 34 high schools from eight regions to compete in a single elimination "March-Madness" style tournament. The Series utilizes the National Surf League's "The Game" format, which was modeled after team sports such as basketball, football, and baseball. The Game format serves to bridge the gap between individual sports like surfing and more fan-friendly team sports. This revolutionary format includes: two teams competing against each other, only one team in the water at a time, three periods, timeouts, coaches, referees and substitutes.
High schools participating in the National Championship include:
Aptos High School, winner of the Santa Cruz Regional Championship
Malibu High School, winner of the Golden State Regional Championship
Satellite High School, winner of the Central Florida Regional Championship
Mira Costa High School, winner of the South Bay Regional Championship
New Smyrna High School, winner of the North Florida Regional Championship
Ocean City High School, winner of the New Jersey Regional Championship
Newport Harbor High School, winner of the Orange County Regional Championship
San Dieguito Academy, winner of the San Diego Regional Championship
National Championship Results Breakdown
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Qtr-Final # 1: Mira Costa High (South Bay) def. Aptos High School (SC)
Qtr-Final # 2: Newport Harbor High (OC) def. Satellite High (CF)
Qtr-Final # 3: Malibu High School (Ventura) def. Ocean City High School (NJ)
Qtr-Final # 4: San Dieguito Academy (SD) def. New Smyrna High School (NF)
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Semi-Final #1: Mira Costa High (South Bay) def. Newport Harbor High (OC)
Semi-Final #2: San Deguito Academy(SD) def. Malibu High School (Ventura)
Finals: Mira Costa High def. San Dieguito Academy in OT