“He’s gonna get his waves. We just have to worry about controlling the other guys.” Inside the huddle of the “Green Machine’s” pre-game motivational speech, head coach Sean “Purple” Hayes acknowledged the danger lurking on the home team’s bench. Sure, this was Oceanside Pier, where the shifty beachbreak peaks appear to host a level playing field. And, sure, we don’t lack any star power on our team. Just hearing the names Tim Curran, Bobby Martinez and Dane Reynolds can send teams home with their heads down. But the bottom line was Coach Hayes’ worries were well warranted. Despite Rob Machado’s sub-150 lb. frame, his performance during the May 21 O’Neill Game versus Team Ventura proved that he’s still nothing less than a heavyweight presence.There was another factor that made me worry Team San Diego was ready to avenge their defeat from two weeks ago in Ventura. Not one, not two, but several of the “619” claimers showed up at the event with Mohawks engraved with the letters “SD” on the sides of their heads. “You think those ugly f—king things are going to help you?” Adam Virs heckled Kyle Knox. However, some team unity and intensity is maybe exactly what the SD needed. At halftime, Team Ventura held a three-point lead, thanks to the combined 15.25 score poured out by ‘CT shredder Tim Curran. On one particular overhead wave, the Oxnard native showcased his freakish talent by opting to turn a tweaked out floater into a full carving 360 before going up beyond vertical one more time. These intimidating antics didn’t faze the Chargers-loving squad, as they looked to put a damper on our hopes of pulling off the second road upset of the California Cup.With an exceptional heat by young gun Nathaniel Curran, coupled with another step-up performance by big-bro Tim, we sat content with a lead that required San Diego to post a 44.5 score to silence the smack talking on our bench. This was a score that hadn’t been achieved yet in the previous three quarters, and a steady west wind plus long lulls kept our bench fairly relaxed going into San Diego’s last-ditch effort to spoil our drive back up north.
Unfortunately, we failed to recognize that when Rob Machado (called the “Chobski” by MC Sal Masekela) is in the water, no lead is safe. Do the San Antonio Spurs slack off in the fourth quarter when Kobe Bryant’s looming on the court? Hell no. And five minutes into the fourth quarter, Rob displayed his superstar prowess. Seven carves in the hook: Score of 8.25. Three ridiculous snaps on an overhead wave: Score of 9. The man hailing from Cardiff by the Sea almost single handedly made up the deficit of 44.5, earning him the MVP of the day. Oceanside hometown hero, Jason Bennet, made sure to do his part in staging one of the best “Game” comebacks to date with some explosive maneuvers in the dumpy lefts. One upside down bash under the lip had Masekela incorporate all three of his favorite adjectives to describe a good turn into one sentence: “Smashbox,” “Boomtown,” and “Wowsers.” The turn was well deserving of Sal’s praise, as it earned most radical maneuver of the day.Meanwhile, Machado made his way back to the beach and straight into a yellow (SD’s team color) swarm of happy teammates. We, on the other hand, began to pack our things. Beaten for the day, but not defeated, we all had to give Machado props. “What can you say?” said an optimistic assistant coach Mike Lamm. “The man earned that one.”— Dylan Slater, Ventura County Team Member[Editor’s Note: SD split the next two games of the O’Neill Game Weekend, crushing Santa Cruz and coming up short against Orange County. Stay tuned for the full report later today.]