Richards and Hurst Win NSSA Nationals

After more than 30 years, an East Coaster finally takes home the Open Men’s title

Cam Richards and Leila Hurst, the 2011 NSSA National Champs. Photo: Struye

Yesterday, in Huntington Beach's sub-par conditions, South Carolina's Cam Richards and Kauai's Leila Hurst forever etched themselves into amateur surfing history by winning the 2011 NSSA Nationals National Open Men's and Women's division.

Leila Hurst's victory was no easy feat, as Laguna Beach's Taylor Pitz and 2011 US Championships winner Tatiana Weston-Webb kept busy until the dying minutes of the final. But Leila's ability to surf light on her feet--making for longer rides and higher scoring potential--is what separated her from her peers and earned her a National Open Women's title.

On the Men's side, it was clear early on that goofyfooter Cam Richards had a winning game plan. He won his semi-final heat by electing to sit at Machado's peak-- due to its higher likelihood of waves having a workable inside section--while his competitor's positioned themselves closer to the pier.

But in his Open Men's Final, Richards' strategy garnered the attention of fellow finalists Kalani David and Taylor Clark, as they sat on Richards for the majority of the final. However, despite numerous paddle battles, Richards' solid rail-to-rail surfing and fins-free turns proved to be too much for his counterparts.

Richards and Hurst now join an elite field of National Open Champions that include 10-time world champion, Kelly Slater and last year's ASP Women's World Tour Rookie of the Year, Carissa Moore.

And though having his name beside some of surfing's all-time greats is huge achievement in itself, Richards appeared to be more proud about being the first East Coast surfer to win an NSSA National Open Men's title in over 30 years.

For full heat results and daily video highlights, click here.

Ezekial Lau, airshow winner. Photo: Lowe-White

San Diego's Jake Marshall, 2011 Open Boys Champion. Photo: Lowe-White

Not a bad day at the beach. Photo: Struye

Open Longboard division winner, Steve Mclean. Photo: Lowe-White

Oahu's Dax Mcgill, taking home the Open Girls title for Hawaii. Photo: Struye

Parker Coffin, Open Juniors winner. Photo: Lowe-White

Proud friends chair Women's Champ Leila Hurst to the podium. Photo: Struye

Cam Richards, Open Mens Champ. Photo: Lowe-White

Cam Richards, elated to bring the title back East. Photo: Struye