SURF: Waist to head high southwest pulses, deadly lulls but enough to work with . The losers still can’t blame the waves.
EVENTS HELD: The finals!
NATURE’S CALL: Even I had fun watching what you did to me.
PREDICTED: A whole lot of Shirley Temples at Sunday night’s neverending NSSA banquet.HEATS OF THE DAY: Since we can only announce the results of two divisions, we’ll talk about them. The Open Men’s and Open Women’s finals ran at the tail end of the most grueling week in amateur surfing, and they were worth the wait. The girls proved they were willing to claw and scratch for a title as no less than four interferences went down during the 35-minute battle. Florida’s Karina Petroni improved a few notches since her Open Women’s win last year: her stance is narrower, her turns are smoother and she’s looking more and more like North Florida’s most recent four-time world champ. Unfortunately, she racked up a paddling interference before she even stood up, which left the door wide open for Newport’s Erica Hosseini. The young goofyfoot put in some serious time at Lowers before this year’s event, but after bombing out in the {{{Explorer}}} Women’s division, she thought she might have wasted her time. “All week I’ve been, like, ‘I gotta make up for that loss.'” Erica did when she racked up two 7.5s with a long string of Pam Burridge-like backhand snaps down the point. Too bad Karina was out of the picture: this could have been the best East Coast/West Coast showdown since Biggie and Tupac squared off.

A lot of pros came down to check the event today, including Sunny Garcia, Rob Machado, Pat O’Connell, Dan Malloy, Conan Hayes and at least a half-dozen B-teamers. They should have brought their notepads to the Open Men’s final.Sure, America’s best amateurs have a long way to go before they match a ‘CTer’s polish, power and overall gnarliness, but they have one thing Sunny and the boys can’t match: they have no fear of falling. As a group, the Open Men’s finalists completed four solid airs, attempted two Gorkin Flips and put stress-cracks in their fin-boxes with every top turn. Even better, the back-and-forth exchange between San Clemente’s Pat Gudauskas and last year’s runner-up Dane Reynolds proved to be one of the most significant high-performance displays in the NSSA’s 25-year history. As former NSSAer Dan Malloy observed, “I’ve maybe done a handful of those kinds of airs in my life. That kid Pat just did one in his heat.” The air in question was just the exclamation mark to an already screaming ride: a big, full-rotation snap out the back, floater, two more vertical, tail-blasting snaps and then a double-grab 180 air to reverse. The score: 9.25, which put him ahead of Dane Reynolds, who had just pulled ahead with a string of Arc-inspired snaps that earned him an 8.0. Reynolds now had 10 minutes to take his lead back with an 8.25. Two, big, intimidating swings (a technically perfect no-grab air on an inside right and a three turns to air reverse on a left) left him within a hair of the straight A student and San Clemente model citizen, but they never broke the 8.0 mark. The most courted amateur since perhaps Kalani Robb would have to settle for another second. “Man, I’m just freaking right now,” said Gudauskas over his win — which included a new burgundy, {{{Toyota}}} {{{Scion}}}. “I guess I’m gonna have to learn how to drive a stick shift.”