Natalie Anzivino claims her fifth consecutive open women’s title this year. Photo by Gus McConnel.
Six of the South Bay’s best surfers met under the most challenging conditions the South Bay has to offer on Saturday in El Porto for the Spyder/South Bay Boardriders contest. At stake was the SBBC Open Mens series title and a trip for two to Fiji, courtesy of Air Fiji.
The contest attracted over 200 surfers competing in 11 age divisions, ranging from assisted groms (9 years old and under) to legends (50 and over)
Dane Zaun on his way to winning the open men’s title. Photo by Gus McConnell
In the morning the sets were head high and tightly spaced with a raging south current. To reach the contest zone at 45th Street, surfers rode the rip out in front of the rocks that protect the bike path, two blocks north. When all went well, contestants made it out to the break zone just about the same time the current deposited them down the beach, in front of the judges.
The Mother’s Day weekend contest drew lots of mothers, including this whale and her calf. Paying his respects is Jake Fishman. Photo by Gus McConnell
The wave frequency that made paddling out so difficult also made it easy to find waves. Groms working the inside popped up like whack-a-moles, challenging the judges to keep up scoring.
The judges faced a similar challenge during the adult heats. Because only the best two rides are scored, the older surfers were more selective. But the head high set set waves they picked off were reforming all the way to the beach. While the judges were following red to the inside, the spotters were calling out that yellow, white and blue were up.
A judges nightmare, but at least they are going the same direction. Brent Bowen on the outside and Tom Seth inside. Photo by Gus McConnell
By the time the Open Mens finals went off on schedule at 5 p.m. the surfers and judges faced a new set of challenges. NOAA’ s forecast for an afternoon “fresh breeze” (20 knots) proved accurate and the swells began coming in bigger and closer together.
On the positive side, the winds, waves and rip gave the finalists the opportunity to demonstrate what is possible in conditions the average surfer wouldn’t attempt to paddle out in.
Dayton Silva kitesurfing. Photo by Kevin Cody
Body Glove team rider Jamie Meistrell began the day with a comfortable lead in series points and surfed the finals with a determination to preserve that lead, grabbing every wave that came to him and chasing down waves that didn’t.
Men’s masters winner Warren Kushner.
He started the scoring with what began as a routine right until he reached the inside. Then, as one of the judges observed, “He killed it” with an upside down, backside hack.
Pro surfer Dane Zaun adopted the opposite strategy during the 20 minute finals. He waited nearly five minutes before snagging a left that the goofyfooter worked for seven hits before stepping off a block north in ankle deep water.
Assisted micro grom winner Kai Kushner with fellow finalists (not in order) Maclaren Allen, Stone Seligson, Griffen Fields, Winfield Gurney and Thor Kowal.
Retired pro Sean Burrell, who was second in series points, showed that aerials don’t require, clean conditions, “Did red just do an aerial, “ an astonished judge asked. The skepticism was due in part to the severe backlighting, which required two spotters with binoculars to call out the singlet colors during each ride.
Micro grom champ Finn Bertino. Photo by Kevin Cody
Burrell also earned the judges appreciation by abandoning waves that didn’t show promise. “Thank you for not wasting my time on crap waves,” one judge commented after Burrell made a quick kick-out rather than stay with a wave in hopes the reform would deliver the elusive ramp he needed for a big enough score to catch Meistrell in points.
But Zaun’s effort was what impressed the judges the most. “Blue really wants it,” one of the judges said near the end of the heat after Zaun worked another outset left to the beach
Zaun not only wanted it, but apparently knew he had it. At the end of the wave, he picked up his board and walked out of the water. Spectators speculated he had broken a fin with his last shallow-water snap. He hadn’t. He just didn’t see the point of paddling back out, knowing the horn would blow before he made it.
Burrel finished second and Meistrell third, which was good enough to protect his lead in series points and clinch his trip to Tahiti. Fellow Body Glove team rider Matt Pagan was fourth, Zaun’s former Mira Costa teammate Dayton Silva was fifth and lifeguard Tom Seth was sixth. Seth also finished third in the masters division (40 and over).
The open women’sfinal was held immediately prior to the the men’s, in the same big wave, big wind conditions. This was no problem for Natalie Anzivino, who maintained her perfect season record with a fifth consecutive first place finish.
If the mother’s day weekend contest provided any consolation for mothers, it was in the form of happy fathers and sons.
Former South African pro Warren Kushner and his son Kai won the their respective masters and assisted groms divisions. Matt Walls advanced to the semi finals in the masters while son Kiernan won the groms division. Another happy father-son duo was Mark Silva and son Dayton.
Mark Silva — 1,014 consecutive days surfing, and counting. Photo by Kevin Cody
Mark demonstrated the value of perseverance by surfing for his 1014th consecutive day when he paddled out in the legends division. Silva was an average surfer when he started his daily surfing. During Saturday’s contest he finished fifth in the masters division and fourth in the legends division.
Son Dayton is a top ranked college surfer. He won his first two open mens heats, which included a victory over Zaun, before falling to fifth in the finals.
The South Bay Boardriders Club awards dinner will be held this month at Waterman’s. For the date and other surf information information visit SouthBayBoadriders.com ER