NSSA NATIONALS FINALS: Tears, Triumph and Triangles

Event's Held: Finals across the board!
Conditions: Some southern-hemi pulses, a dash of wind swell and hundreds of the nations best surfers: the recipe for destruction.
Nature's Call: Prepare to peel, suckers.
Predictions: Tears, upsets, heartbreak, smiles, triumph and drama. Nothing less.

John John Florence is like a {{{Lamborghini}}}. He's so low to the ground that knocking him off his board is virtually impossible--he's just too low for it to happen. I walked up as John John was in the middle of an Open Juniors semifinal and he had just defied gravity...again, propelling himself into another final appearance. While John John posted 9s, another group of mini groms waited for a poor unsuspecting kid to use the porta-potty. Once inside, the rat pack would attack the porta potty, shaking, stoning and laughing as the unsuspecting kid inside would hold on for dear life. After emerging, the kid inside proceeds to walk away, head down as his buddies lay in the dirt holding their tummies laughing. Oh, to be a grom again.

The final day at Nationals is not all toilet tricks, it's downright nerve racking. All the buildup from the whole year boils down to this: 6 kids, sitting out the back at the world's wettest skate park with just under 30-minutes to change the surfing world. Some do. Some don't. Some cry when they don't; many laugh. So who cried? And who laughed? Well, here's a highlight reel of the final day:

The {{{Explorer}}} Juniors final looked like a Taylor Steele video. Dusty Payne was chucking tail free blowouts, slipping his way through the middle section like a wet bar of soap down a waterslide, then finishing waves with a punt off the inside bowl; this was Dusty's standard operating procedure for the week. Granger Larsen was hands down the style god of the contest. He made the finals in Explorer Juniors, Open Mens, and Open Juniors, and did it by drawing lines like Da Vinci. When the horn blew for the end of the heat, not knowing the exact outcome because they turn the computer off at 5-minutes, I would lay a good portion of my assets--minimal as they are--on a Granger Larsen victory.

In the Open Women final, the level of surfing from Malia Manuel, Carissa Moore, and Coco Ho was the best I have ever seen. Malia was doing reverses off the inside bank after she had thrown a couple full rail turns out the back. Carissa Moore has a couple bad wave choices, but was surfing amazing when she got one. In this one, a new face will more than likely be rocking the highest spot on the podium.

Kolohe Andino let out a big yawn as he walked up to get his jersey for the final. You tend to forget that he's still only 12 when you see him surf. After five grueling days of non-stop surfing, "Brother" was just tired. He paddled out for the Open boys--or the whole WCT in 2017--final and his need for nap was evident in a few bad wave choices. Ezekiel Lau had the lead throughout most of the heat while. That is until Conner Coffin dropped into a rare left for the afternoon with less than a minute remaining, looking for a score around a 7. Conner proceeded to put together 4 top to bottom turns on his backhand to the shore break. The crowd was going ballistic and Conner almost lost it after, raising his arms in triumph. "Did he get it? He got it? Can you imagine if he got it?" rattled off his proud mom at the buzzer. A huge upset for Conner to take down the powerhouses Ezekiel Lau, and Kolohe Andino and Evan Geisleman. No worries for these groms though, they'll be back and after seeing them surf all week, surfing's future is in good hands.