Surfing America USA Championships: Sunday

An empty wall slips away from the competitors' grasp.

An empty wall slips away from the competitors' grasp.

By Phil Bannan
Photos by Peter Taras

The USA and Hawaii's top juniors were rewarded with epic surf at Lowers on Sunday courtesy of Hurricane Celia and a solid south swell. Mike Parsons and Peter Mel were frothing from the announcer's booth claiming, "This is the best Trestles I have seen in a long time." Perfect sets rolled through every couple minutes, allowing spectators on the beach to mind-surf their brains out. The action-packed day started off with the Boys Under 18 Quarterfinals in the water.

The first heat saw Kolohe Andino face off against Ezekiel Lau, Nick Rupp and Evan Thompson. The lineup was a bit shifty on the low tide and the surfers were caught out of position for most of the heat. Kolohe was eventually able to find a right that swung wide, unleashing a few power wraps and top turns before finishing the wave with an air to secure the heat win. With time winding down, Ezekiel Lau snuck into a rare pigdog barrel and surfed his way to a second place finish.

Conner Coffin and Evan Geiselman went blow for blow in their Quarterfinal match up. If it weren't for their colored jerseys, anyone would have guessed that they were trying to get clips for their next video part. The duo illustrated the shrinking difference between contest surfing and freesurfing as they took turns splitting peaks and blowing up on any wave that came their way. Conner went to town on his first right, finishing the wave off with power gouge #34 of the ride, scoring an 8.00. Not to be outdone, Geiselman recorded an 8.50 as he let his fins breathe with snaps all the way to the inside section where he threw down a blow-tail reverse. After a few more man-sized carves and airs, Quarterfinal #2 wrapped up with Evan in 1st and Conner in 2nd. Both advance to the Semifinals where spots for the USA Surf Team will be on the line.

Quarterfinal #3 was a doozy. Andrew Doheny, Tanner Hendrickson, Colin Moran and Luke Davis squared off in what was the heat of the contest so far. The judges had their hands full as all four surfers showcased progressive aerial shenanigans combined with committed rail surfing. Moran got some oohs and aaahs from the crowd as he finished off a left with a committed, upside-down backside hit. Doheny showed why he won the Oakley Pro Junior at Lowers last month, coming back late to win the heat with fast and committed surfing. Hendrickson gave it his best shot, finishing up in second place, as his formidable forehand attack fit perfectly on Lowers' pumping right-handers. In the dying minutes of the heat, style-master Luke Davis floated a section, dug into a rad layback (could have sworn it was Dave Rastovich out there) and finished off the inside racetrack section with an air reverse. However, the score came in just shy of what he needed, allowing Doheny and Hendrickson to advance to tomorrow's final day of competition.

And then, the girls threw out the rulebook.

The Girls Under 18 Quarterfinal heats took to the water in building swell and improving conditions. In Quarterfinal #1 Nikki Viesins found the biggest wave of the day, free-falling on the takeoff, sticking it and riding out the double overhead wall to the beach. Quarterfinal #2 saw Courtney Conlogue rack up the highest heat score of the day (male or female) with an 18.67. To the amazement of the crowd, Courtney found a standup barrel. Hurley's Brandon Guilmette asked, "Did she just get f—kin' tubed at Trestles?" After logging tube time and ripping the rest of the wave, the judges awarded Courtney with a 9.27. At the end of the heat, Courtney found herself another bomb where she put everything on the line with two unreal snaps scoring a 9.40.

Directly following Courtney's heat, Lakey Peterson paddled into the pumping Lowers lineup to one-up her rival's performance. Lakey took command of her heat, putting the other girls in a combination situation and leaving them to fight it out for second place. Lakey got the crowd on its feet by throwing a huge frontside air reverse, considered by announcer Ryan Simmons to be the best air ever by a girl in amateur competition. The judges awarded her a perfect 10 and a heat total of 18.5.

With surfers in all age groups blowing up and the level of girls' surfing being pushed to new heights, tomorrow's event finale is a must see. The conclusion of the Surfing America Championships will determine who competes for Team USA at the next ISA World Surfing Games. Action starts at 8am in what looks to be another day of Lower Trestles perfection.