“F — k that. I don’t care where it’s at; we’re surfing for Ventura. It’s about bragging rights.” Adam Virs sat in the Ventura “Inside Point” parking lot staring at the morning mush balls rolling through. After title sponsor So Cal Salt Co failed to come up with the required cash for Quiksilver Game Weekend last Thursday, the second installment of the NSL’s California Cup looked questionable. They first delayed the event by two days, then asked the surfers to forget about their ${{{300}}} appearance fees and compete for free. But ask anyone from any team and they’ll tell you the same thing: this ain’t about appearance fees; it’s about Home Break Pride. “This is my backyard,” Virs said. “We’re not going to let those guys come here and beat us.”

Although the Santa Cruz squad received a discouraging blow from team O.C. last weekend, they were all eager to return to the familiarity of a rolling, righthand point break. Ventura’s C-street doubled as an average day at Pleasure Point this past May 9, as a healthy south swell pulsed lined up rights down the “Pipes” cove.

Ventura wasted no time trying to recover from their disappointing 5-point loss to the O.C. posse last weekend, as they opened the first quarter with a 4.5 point lead over team Santa Cruz. Hank Mills was the standout of this quarter, as his Rincon-bred backhand rifled up some solid scores. Feeling fairly confident going into the second quarter, the “Green Machine” (as announcer Sal Masekela calls us) would receive a reality check. A mid-morning tide push created extended lulls that left Dane Reynolds, Bobby Martinez, Josh Curran, and myself scratching for anything to break our 35.5 point score for the quarter. To the hoots and cheers of the boys from up north, Santa Cruz was slappin’ fives with a three point lead at half time.

It’s O.K.; it’s just time to step it up.

After some motivational encouragement from head coach Sean Hayes and assistant coaches Mike “The Lamminator” Lamm and Brian Aresco, Team V-town was poised to do some damage. Unfortunately for us, so were Josh Mulcoy and Kieren Horn, as they both posted high scores in the third quarter. With each dug rail and missed opportunity (coined “{{{M}}}.O.” by “Game” organizer Brad Gerlach), the hecklers chimed in. “This ain’t the Lane, boys! Where’s your booties?!” Unable to get into their heads, we still found ourselves in a hole of 9 points going into the fourth quarter.

At one point, announcer Masekela posed a question to get the home crowd riled: “How many of you Venturans think the home team can come out victorious from this hole?” After a mild reaction, Masekela responded, “Well, that’s not a good sign. Only two people answered my question and they’re both in the Ventura dugout.”

After a fairly slow start in the fourth quarter, things weren’t looking good for the boys from the “805”. But we weren’t done yet. Bobby Martinez weaved through a bowly left, earning himself a seven. Then Dane Reynolds blew apart two rights, earning two scores over seven and sealing the “most radical maneuver of the day award” on a Fanning-inspired pocket carve that left the beach hitting the rewind on their video cameras. Team Santa Cruz started pacing. Pete Mussio, Nick Rosza, and myself combined for scores that left us only .5 behind the beanie-wearing, Nor Cal visitors. Our coaching staff made a gutsy call allowing the underrated Jeremy Ryan a shot at glory by subbing in for Mussio. Score needed to win: a 5.0. A medium-size righthander rolled through and three snaps from the lanky goofyfoot earned a 5.0, which sent the Ventura dugout into a frenzy while sending the Santa Cruz dugout home. A “Braveheart”-inspired roar from the water coach Keoni Cuccia notified the rest of the team that we had clinched our first “Game” victory.

Back on the beach, team Ventura event “MVP” Bobby Martinez slapped fives with the rest of the team. Leading team Ventura to a last-minute victory, he put on a fourth quarter performance that made me forget that I was in the heat with him. Meanwhile, Virs was getting ready to catch the end of the Lakers game. “Like I said, it’s about bragging rights,” the stocky regularfoot said. “One team down and two to go.” — Dylan Slater, Ventura County Team Member