With royalty such as Kelly Slater, C.J. Hobgood, David Speir, Bill Hartley, Todd Morcom, and Eric Hatton, First Peak’s “Sebastian Supremacy” has high expectations. On this weekend of Nov. 2 -3, {{{80}}} surfers gathered at the Inlet as blustery onshore winds delivered a 4-to-6 foot groundswell.

With $10,400 in prizemoney ($260 per skin), the 8th Annual Quiksilver King of the Peak featured sunny skies, solid waves, cameras lining the beach, and a judging panel that included former World Champion C.J. Hobgood, who lent a hand to take his mind off his recent foot surgery. Top surfers from the entire eastern seaboard, as well as from Central America and the Caribbean, gathered around as names were pulled from a hat and placed into “Skin Heats.” As it turned out, there were no easy draws. It would take a surfer with extreme capabilities to master the chunky sections unloading on what locals call the “Sand Box.”

As skin winners began to gather momentum, the conditions took over, and even the best became unglued from their boards or catapulted off lips and got hammered. Seemingly perfect set-ups for barrel rides often turned into disaster, as riders found themselves within the womb as the waves would mutate and spit out pieces of fiberglass. There were plenty of broken boards and broken hearts as even some of the best locals and former kings failed to pull off a Skin Win. Standouts on Day One included Bryan Hewitson, Jonathan Gossman, Paul Reinecke and Brendan Petticrew. But the best barrels of the day went to Phillip Watters and Noah Snyder, who found his sick one in the ESM Airshow. Still, Hewitson was the leader going into day two, but with only three Skins, he was wide open for an upset.

Day Two saw slightly cleaner and bigger conditions, with more tubes to be had if one happened to stumble down the right mine shaft. C.T. Taylor started out with a couple easy Skins and looked to catch Hewy, but his luck was halted by Bill Hartley’s multiple gaffs down by swimmers’ beach. Scotty Posner also made a run but was clipped by Kenny Kozack’s groveler on the horn. Mike Gleason toppled former king David Speir, then met his match in Hewy, who torqued a long left with some huge top turns. It looked like the Hewy {{{Express}}} was going to run away with it, but he was derailed by Justin Jones, who hijacked the train to become a potential ruler.

As Hewy sat and watched, all challengers to the throne proved to be pretenders, each falling victim to the tricky conditions. The last hopeful was Brendan Petticrew of Virginia Beach, but he too was ousted by Puerto Rican Dylan Graves. Just as Hewy ascended his throne, 19-year-old local Brian Denning pulled a show-stopper in the day’s final heat, free-falling down a long, dredging wall driving through a deep tube and coming out as the wave spit to earn the highest score of the event and London Broil Dinner for two at Coconut Cafe — not to mention a helping of respect from his peers.

In the ESM Airshow, Hewy looked to make it a double-win by busting some huge 360 backside airs but not quite sticking them. It was soul patrol Ryan Helm who inspired many with his surfing through the whole event that busted a clean frontside no hander for the $400 prize. Hewy proved a deserving addition to the long list of kings as he received a sick “Bling Bling” Goldchain {{{Medallion}}}. Wearing his crown while holding his daughter in his arm, the new king was cheered by his subjects, all of whom were happy to witness another chapter of high perfomance surfing in the kingdom that continues to groom “world champions.” — Matt Kechele