SC Makes it a Black Day for LA at the Quiksilver California Cup, Game 3

Steamer Lane was ugly yesterday. Pelting rain and driving South winds postponed the day's early Game between Santa Cruz and a new squad from Los Angeles. The weather cleared enough in the afternoon to run Game 3, but it was still cold and wet on the cliff and lumpy and messy in the lineup. In other words, it was perfect for the aptly named Stormrider crew. SC continued its blistering form in the nasty conditions by easily dispatching the LA Arc Angels and they readied themselves for a showdown with a talented team from San Diego that is hoping to throw a wrench into SC's plans for a sweep. Tomorrow the Sea Lions better bring their "A" games because today's contest turned into a three-hour victory lap for Santa Cruz.

In the early going LA looked to have learned a few lessons by watching the multitude of mistakes made yesterday by Orange County and Ventura. Coach Mike Lamm watched all of the previous day's proceedings and created a sound strategy. He put two guys on the Point and two in the Slot, had subs ready to go and his communication with his water coaches was smooth and effective. A few minutes into the opening quarter, however, it was clear that despite all the planning, Lamm just didn't have the horses. 47 year-old "Wave Killer" Alan Sarlo grabbed a foamy one and banged out a few turns with his tree trunk legs, but only got a 3.15 for the effort. Fellow {{{Malibu}}} cohort Ricky Schaffer whipped a few backside turns off the point for a 5.75, but teammates Anthony Petruso and Justin Swartz weren't able to do much of anything and LA finished with paltry 16.75 total.

In the bottom of the 1st, SC served notice that this one wasn't going to be close. In opening seconds, one of yesterday's heroes Sean Peterson got a 6.75 and a few minutes later Josh Mulcoy found an overhead wall in the Slot, lifted his board into two gorgeous arcs and finished by ripping the rest of the wave all the way to the cliff in front of the team platforms. The judges scored the wave a near perfect 9.5 and the rout was on. Final score at the end of Quarter 1: SC 27, LA 16.75. Ouch.

In the top of the 2nd, LA saved face and took pride in the strong surfing of Bron Huessenstamm. The native of Laguna and current USC student threw down a layback snap at the apex of Middle Peak that would have made Bruce Irons proud. A few minutes later he absolutely blew the roof off the lip of a punchy wave at the Point. He threw it straight up over the shallowest section next to the cliff, air dropped back down, stuck the landing then tossed in three solid turns for good measure. But the judges woefully underscored him with a 7.5. In the bottom of the 2nd, Santa Cruz seemed content to rest on its laurels, except for Peter Mel who only rode one wave but made it count when he found one where he could do a series of layback gouges and got an 8.5.

In the second half, both the waves and the atmosphere improved. The sun came out, rainbows appeared in the kelp and SI swimsuit beauty Marissa Miller cheered on her hometown boys in the Santa Cruz dugout. Santa Cruz'ed to victory on the strong legs of Josh Mulcoy and Kieran Horn while LA saw a few more highlights from Bron and Sean Burrell, but also suffered through more than their share of agonizing lowlights. None were worse than when Brendan Hearne found himself on the wave of the day - a lined up double overhead screamer at Middle Peak - but fell hard laying into his first turn. The SC boys seemed to take pity on the poor Southers and held back on the catcalls and putdowns. They knew it wasn't fair to rub it in. By the beginning of the bottom of the 4th Quarter, the Arc Angels had been martyred and mercifully put out of their misery.

Tomorrow, however, the Stormriders better not get too cocky or too lit at the party tonight because tomorrow they face the only team in the State that looks, practiced, focused and ready to take them on - the San Diego Sea Lions led by Rob Machado and Taylor Knox.

Final Score
Santa Cruz – 94.25
Los Angeles – 75.75