SC Proves They're Not Just a Bunch of Leadfoots with a Win in Small Surf at LA

LA Arc Angels Series – Day 1, Game 1 SC vs. LA

Naysayers who attributed Santa Cruz's 3-1 record in the opening series of the 2005 Quiksilver California Cup solely to home break advantage should think twice. The Stormriders scored another convincing win today in small, weak surf at Leo Carrillo over an improving but still struggling squad from Los Angeles. Santa Cruz was expected to do well at firing, overhead Steamer Lane, but to score 106.5 points in 1-3 foot dribblers? Not many, including the Stormriders themselves, expected that.

After all no one from Santa Cruz had even surfed at Leo Carrillo before. The sleepy State Beach is known more for its campground than its surf and it hadn't seen this much attention since Luke Perry's surfing stunt double filmed a scene in the "90210" days there wearing lime green Aqua Sox.

Neither the teams nor event organizers knew quite what to do with the conditions today. NSL Commissioner Brad Gerlach waited all morning before calling a 1pm start on a tip that the surf would improve on the incoming tide. When SC first hit the water, though, it was still looking dicey. 1-2 foot waves were barely cresting near the outside rocks. Scoring the the 1st Quarter was difficult because it was clear that the judges didn't really know what the standard would be at this break. Sean Peterson and Josh Mulcoy scored 6.5 and 7.0 respectively in the top of the 1st on mediocre waves that would have earned them 3's or 4's in later quarters. The LA Arc Angels, after getting embarrassed at Steamer Lane, were pumped up for a rematch on their turf and cried foul at the obvious over-scores. Santa Cruz, though, weren't fazed by LA's heckles and legitimate complaints. The Stormriders quickly figured out that Leo is pretty similar to small Steamer's or Pleasure Point and started improving with every wave. By the end of the quarter when Ratboy slid his small stubby board into two big carves out the back and punted an air on the inside for an 8.25, SC had posted a big 28.0 score.

LA, feeling under the gun already, went to work. {{{Malibu}}} natives Anthony Petruso and Pascal Stansfield used their familiarity with Leo to grab solid scores of 7.25 and 7.0 and LA's total quarter was a respectable, but still trailing, 25.5.

In the top of the 2nd, SC posted a 25.5, another strong total score, as Adam Repogle and Josh Loya showed the Stormriders can be smooth and flowing in any size surf. Things weren't looking good for LA when cheers for speedy flyweight, Alex Grey, turned into jeers at the judges when Grey's long ride was only scored a 4.5. LA felt that had been slighted again and a determined Shuan Burrell answered back by tearing into a workable one off the rock. Fifteen power packed backside hacks later Burrell had earned himself a 9.0 and LA was in the game for the first time. Score at the half: SC 53.5 to LA 50.5. The Arc Angels were now gaining confidence with every wave and felt the score could have been tied if both team's waves had been judged correctly.

In 3rd period Santa Cruz with a went "small" lineup of Ratboy, Josh Mulcoy, Jonny Craft and Sean Peterson that surfed solidly but no one got a wave over 7 and they left the door open for LA. The Arc Angels looked ready to mount a comeback when Petruso and Stansfield again got good scores, but their team made three crucial errors. Stansfield blew it by taking off a little wave in the middle of a timeout (a blunder he had already made in the first half), Brendan Hearne turned a 9.0 ride into a 7 when he fell on an easy inside air after ripping the trickier middle section apart, and Justin Swartz and sub Greg Browning were unable to better a 4.0.

SC took advantage of these rookie mistakes by slamming the door shut on San Diego in the top of the 4th. The tide was pushing high and well-shaped chest high waves were coming through on occasion. Adam Repogle and Josh Loya used their experience to select two gems on which they carved perfectly rhythmic snaps for an 8.25 and a 9.25. The LA bench then got deathly quiet as they found themselves in a big 32.25 hole. LA tried to pull a charge together in the 4th when Alex Grey found the sweet spot on a lined up wedge and smacked it with polished precision. This time he got the score he deserved – 9.25. Shaun Burrell then tried to repeat his 2nd quarter heroics by giving his best wave everything he had, but the weak roller didn't give him much more than a slopey face in return. Big Bron Huessenstamm, a standout in Santa Cruz, struggled in the mush and Teddy Navarro wasn't able to find anything above 5.25.

At the end of the day the Arc Angels had gone 0-2, but they could take pride in their spirit, heart and improvement. On the other side, SC's joy had to be tempered with the realization that the judges had definitely done them a few favors (it seems pretty suspect that SC would score higher in a road match-up in tiny waves than they did in four previous outings in solid surf at home.) But as the raging Stormriders got ready to party once again they knew they had made a 180 degree improvement from last year and now had enough talent and savvy to have a shot at winning the whole thing.

Final Score:
Santa Cruz – 106.5
Los Angeles – 101.25