Members of The Deck celebrate the team’s first Charlie Saikley 6-man championship. Photo by Ray Vidal
After 22 years of playing together, the former 12th Street/Sangria team, now known as The Deck, finally won the elusive Men’s Open championship at the annual Charlie Saikley 6-man beach volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach. The tournament kicked off the 53rd edition of the International Surf Festival.
Sponsored by the iconic Hermosa Beach drinking establishment – formerly known as the Poopdeck – The Deck was taken to the limit by Fletch 2.0 after capturing the winner’s bracket.
Led by former pro players Scott Lane and 2013 Manhattan Beach Open winner Matt Fuerbringer, Fletch held off defending champion Simmzy’s 11-9 in the loser’s bracket. The momentum carried over to the finals, where Fletch needed two wins to claim the title. They downed The Deck 15-11 in the first game.
In the second game, The Deck jumped out to a 7-2 lead before Fletch rallied to tie the score 7-7. Fletch had game-point at 10-9 but the determined Deck squad scored the final three points for the win and the championship.
Fletch 2.0 pushed The Deck to the limit winning the first game in the double-final. Photo by Ray Vidal
The Deck was led by many past Mira Costa High School standout players, a USA Olympic Gold Medalist, US National Team members, retired professional volleyball players, and AVP Kings of the Beach, who included Bryan Ivie, Dave McKienzie, Bob Samuelson and David Swatik.
In the true spirit of the International Surf Festival, The Deck also boasted former professional standouts from Brazil and Spain.
“After 22 years of our team being together, and coming so close on many occasions, this win is pretty sweet,” Team Co-Captain Brian Thurston said. “Many of our team members have been playing in the Charlie Saikley 6-Man tournament for close to 30 years, and even if the tournament isn’t as big as it used to be, there are still some great teams that enter and you have to play on a World-Class level to come out on top.
Many thanks to our original sponsors and supporters over the years, 12th Street Grill, Sangria Restaurant, Kevin Barry (The Deck and Captain Kidd’s restaurant partner), Quiksilver Clothing and Hush-Hush Hair Salon.”
Co-Captain Brett Coordt stressed that the victory came from a team effort.
US National Team member and Olympian Dave McKenzie helped The Deck capture the Men’s Open title at the Charlie Saikley 6-man tournament. Photo by Ray Vidal
“Many of us are old friends that grew up locally with a true appreciation of the tourney and the camaraderie that it represents. Also, big thanks go to Jay Saikley for helping to carry on the legacy of the tourney and giving us the opportunity to finally get one.”
In the Women’s Open, the 900 Club won the championship in dramatic fashion.
Led by Ali Daly-McColloch, Nikki Jagd, Lindsay Stalzer, Devon Sutherland, Kelli Tennant and Geena Urango, 900 Club emerged from the loser’s bracket after a 15-12 win over Mermaid.
Needing to beat defending champion Rusher Air/900 twice to claim the title, 900 Club was up to the task with 15-10 and 11-9 victories.
Century Club knocked off defending champion Goodstuff to win the Men’s Masters championship and the Desperate Housewives captured their second consecutive Women’s Masters title with a win over Pit Crew.
The event is named after Charlie Saikley, known as the “Godfather of Beach Volleyball,” who died of cancer in 2005.
This marked the third year that the tournament has been held on Wednesday and Thursday instead of the weekend when estimated crowds of 65,000 would converge around the Manhattan Beach Pier.
The 43 teams participating last week were 100 less that those playing in 2010 but efforts are in the works to move the tournament to Thursday and Friday in 2015 with the addition of about 20 teams.