2008 NSSA East Coast Championships

Event: 2008 NSSA East Coast Championships
Conditions: Four solid days of surf blessed this year's contest, with Saturday and Sunday sporting waist- to chest-high chunks slightly crossed up by a moderate ENE breeze.
Nature's Call: NSSA Executive Director Janice Aragon claims ol' faithful Sebastian Inlet has never let her down; this year was no different. "I even saw groundswell here," Aragon boasted. "I've never seen that at Sebastian."
Predicted: Evan Geiselman joins {{{CJ}}} and Martinez as the next poster goofyfoot for the NSSA. After breaking Eric Taylor's record for most regional titles last year, "Geiselgrease the Younger" won {{{Explorer}}} Boys, and Open Airshow and the Open Juniors division, to increase his record number of titles to 12. But it was another young Hurley rider who ultimately stole the show.

Speed. Power. Style. Explosiveness. Michael Dunphy exhibited all of those attributes, and paired incredibly consistent surfing with an uncharacteristic slice of humble pie to take down three of the NSSA's premier divisions: Explorer Mens, Explorer Juniors, and Open Men's. And he did it by embracing his Virginia Beach roots, combining man-sized bottom turns, ultra-smooth carves, and lightning-speed hacks to decimate all comers. On the beach, Dunphy never let a glimpse of his reputation for cockiness show, and during the awards ceremony he remained unassumingly quiet, even oozing a bit of Bob Dylan-like nonchalance as he mumbled a few thanks into the microphone. When asked whether he hoped to add a couple Nationals titles to his mantle later this summer, Dunphy shook his head and said, "Don't want to get too far ahead of myself."

Dunphy's titles represented the exclamation point for non-Florida competitors, as the only other out-of-state winners were South Carolina grom Cam Richards (who successfully defended his Explorer Menehune and Open Boys titles) and New York/ Puerto Rico wahine Quincy Davis (Explorer Women's). The big news on the women's side of the draw was local ripper-in-training Jasset Umbel putting a new face on female East Coast surfing, as she cruised to convincing Explorer Girls and Open Women's wins. The only other multiple winner was Jacksonville, Fla.'s Jason Motes, who claimed Explorer Seniors and Explorer Masters titles before letting loose with his trademark hellman roar of "North Florida!" And top collegiate honors went to underdog Flagler College, who claimed the first two College Men's spots (Ben McLeod and nine-time NSSA East Coast titleholder Eric Taylor) and even topped the overall team totals to earn the school's first trip to Nationals. Put it in perspective: last year, Flagler didn't even rank in the eight-team college field.

Heat of the Day: The Open Men's final, which capped off the competition, was by far the most exciting of the event. Three different lead changes happened in the back half of the heat, and with only eight minutes left, Nick Rupp, Liam Michelbrink, Evan Geiselman, and Michael Dunphy were all within five points of each other. Geiselman pulled to an early lead with two solid backside lip-smacks, but fellow New Smyrnan (more on this darkhorse later) Michelbrink claimed a 5.67 for a procession of clean frontside turns to elbow his way into first. But with eight minutes remaining, Dunphy unloaded on an unsuspecting left with two heavy-duty sprayhose hacks for a 7.67. The competitors' tent emitted a resounding, "Dunphy just won it," and sure enough, none of the other surfers even had a chance as time dwindled away.

Performer of the Day: Not to discount Dunphy's monumental achievement (no Virginia Beach surfer has won an NSSA East Coast title since Adrian Colaprete took Explorer Longboard in 2001), but nobody else overachieved like Liam Michelbrink. This relatively unknown NSBer fought and scratched his way into three finals, and lest you think the trifecta was a fluke, he scored a heavily respectable 2nd in Open Men's on the shoulders of his clean, no-nonsense surfing. In fact, one of those unassuming turns put out Jacksonville's Evan Thompson in a heated Open Men's semifinal on Saturday. Thompson, whose brother Cody won Explorer Men's and Explorer Juniors in 2007, hurled a profane set of complaints and insults at Michlebrink after the heat, but Liam only strengthened his case for POD by classily ignoring Thompson's immature tantrum.

Shockers: Plain and simple, Dunphy served notice to all critics and haters who tend to label him as an overconfident grom who can't live up to the hype. Word is Dunphy may have gotten a little tough love while on a recent USA Surf Team training mission in Hawaii, and we can only assume that Mike had enough of people questioning his ability. "I haven't seen him surf that well, ever," Aragon said. "Watching him on day one, I said 'OK, he's on a mission', because he's never won a major NSSA title before."

Oliver Kurtz

Quotables: "Easter's over, you guys gotta stop hopping." –East Cast legend Matt Kechele, to the gaggle of groms assembled at his feet looking for heat advice

"The karma's staying alive!" –Aragon on another year of fully contestable surf

"Just to one up Charley, I'm getting married and having a baby!" –An ecstatic Jason Motes, in response to Explorer Super Seniors winner "Gnarly" Charley Hajak's own marriage announcement

Final results of the 2008 NSSA East Coast Championships:

1. Michael Dunphy
2. Liam Michelbrink
3. Evan Geiselman
4. Nick Rupp

1. Jasset Umbel
2. Ariel Engstrom
3. Alexis Engstrom
4. Jennifer Morris

1. Evan Geiselman
2. Evan Thompson
3. Nick Rupp
4. Hector Santa Maria

1. Cam Richards
2. Weston Williams
3. Corey Howell
4. Mauricio Diaz
5. Noah Schweizer
6. Sam Duggan

1. Logan Hayes
2. Stevie Pittman
3. Luke Marks
4. Evan Brownell
5. Jack Umbel
6. Izzie Gomez

6. Chelsea Gresham
5. Michael Agnew
4. Weston Williams
3. Michael Wood
2. Todd Kinsey
1. Patrick Nicholl

1. Evan Geiselman, $400

1. Michael Dunphy
2. Balaram Stack
3. Tommy Orsini
4. Liam Michelbrink
5. Tayler Brothers
6. Oliver Kurtz

1. Michael Dunphy
2. Nick Rupp
3. Oliver Kurtz
4. Balaram Stack
5. Liam Michelbrink
6. Tayler Brothers

1. Evan Geiselman
2. Keto Burns
3. Christian Miller
4. Dylan Kowalski
5. Tanner Strohmenger
6. Noah Schweizer

1. Cam Richards
2. Mauricio Diaz
3. Tristan Thompson
4. Noah Schweizer
5. Logan Hayes
6. Weston Williams

1. Quincy Davis
2. Jasset Umbel
3. Amy Nicholl
4. Ariel Engstrom
5. Savannah Bradley
6. Alexis Engstrom

1. Jasset Umbel
2. Quincy Davis
3. Savannah Bradley
4. Nikki Viesins
5. Kayla Durden
6. Rossi Klein

1. Jason Motes
2. Lyn Meyers
3. Steve Moore
4. William Kimball
5. Chad Carr
6. Anthony Passarelli

1. Jason Motes
2. Bill McCardell
3. Chilly Gilreath
4. Charley Hajak
5. Jim Tolliver
6. Ray Sturm

1. Charley Hajak
2. Steve Moldenhauer
3. Rob Parson
4. Jim Tolliver
5. Jim Miller
6. Bill Miller

1. Michael Wood
2. Steve Moldenhauer
3. Bill McCardell
4. Weston Williams
5. Wyatt Todd
6. Patrick Nicholl

1. Flagler 97 points
2. UCF-A 86 points
3. DBCC 82 points
4. UNF-A 79 points
5. UF 34 points
6. UNF-B 28 points
7. UCF-B 27 points
8. UCF-C 16 points

1. Eric Taylor, Flagler
2. Ben McLeod, Flagler
3. David Holloway, UNF-A
4. Chad Bagwell, UCF-A
5. Johnny Lewis, DBCC
6. Eric Hock, DBCC

1. Lauren McLean, UCF-A
2. Kayla Beckman, UNF-A
3. Ashley Francis, UCF-A
4. Mallory Turner, UNF-A
5. Sarah Malone, DBCC
6. Abby Schweizer, DBCC

1. Todd Kinsey, UF
2. Jake Radacz, UNF-A
3. Brent Newell, UCF-A
4. Eric Tanner, UNF-B
5. Austin Piazza, UCF-B
6. Travis Eubanks, UCF-C

Sebastian Inlet