NSSA - National Scholastic Surfing Association

The National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage and assist its members in their interest to learn and develop the fundamentals and skills of surfing competition while competing in structured and quality events. The NSSA promotes the qualities of discipline and competitive excellence while supporting the merits of academic achievement to young surfers. The NSSA strives to provide a fun surfing experience for all of its members.

The NSSA is one of the few national youth sports organizations that require its participants to maintain academic standards in order to compete. Since 1978, the NSSA program philosophy has been that athletics and scholastics go hand in hand. More than 80 NSSA events are run nationwide that culminate with the annual National Championships which is regarded as the highest profile youth surfing event in America.

Surfer the Week - Archives (2020)

Surfer of the Week - 12/9/2020


Age: 15
Hometown: Oceanside, California
School: Coastal Academy, 9th grade. Favorite subject: Honors Bio
Sponsors: O'Neill, Wienerchnitzel, Dragon Alliance glasses, Futures fins, Kailani surfboards, Amavara sunscreen, Sun Diego Boardshop, Stay Covered
Equipment: Kailiani surfboards, Click model, 5'8" x 18 1/2, 2 3/16
Claim to Fame: In a statement making performance, Lucas Owston claimed the 2020 Open Juniors National title at Jennette’s Pier in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. In the final, the 15-year-old from Oceanside went on a tear putting up the highest heat total of the entire event – an 18.70 on wave scores of 9.67 and 9.03. It was expected that Lucas would have success at the Nationals considering his spectacular and consistent performances during the 2019/20 regular season and at the 2019 Championships where he won the Regionals and his first National title in Explorer Boys. Before Covid derailed the 2019/20 regular season, he had already clinched the number one ranking for both Open Juniors and Explorer Boys. When the 2020 Nationals was announced to be held at Jennette’s Pier, Lucas was ready regardless of the change of venue, traveling across the country and any other challenges that came along with it. “For me, traveling to another destination just made me hungrier to win,” Lucas said. “It was important for me to compete because achieving that goal and having it on my résumé is a huge deal.” He prepared by utilizing the small, punchier waves of Oceanside Pier’s north side. “I practiced on the north side of the pier to replicate Jennette’s,” he said. “And I feel like this was crucial to my success.” Much to everyone’s delight, the Atlantic hurricane season kept rolling right through the Nationals dates providing excellent quality overhead conditions. Despite being out of the jersey for nearly eight months, Lucas snapped right back into contest mode. “The conditions were all time," he said. "Prior to the event I was getting ready to surf one foot grovel, but it turned out to be absolutely pumping. Everything about it was picture perfect, the waves, the wind, everything, it was absolutely amazing.” The Explorer divisions were first and Lucas looked strong to defend his Boys title. However, he finished with a third in the final, not the result he was hoping for. In a ritual that is practiced after every heat loss, he talked with his dad about went wrong, what to improve on and then make the adjustment. “The Explorer loss was immediately forgotten after that talk,” he said. “In the Open, I went out and ran my game.” Lucas surfed with confidence and ferocity as he went to work on the highly rippable 4-6 foot waves. With tremendous poise and resiliency, and the title on the line, he has shown us time and again that he is outrageously clutch. The spectacular nature of his buzzer-beating 8.17 to advance to the Open Juniors final was a glowing telltale. The Juniors final was as stacked as could be with Luke Wyler, Cole McCaffray and the newly crowned Open Mens Champion Diego Ferri. But it was clear from the near perfect 9.67 score on his opening ride, Lucas meant business. Maybe he was fueled a little by the Explorer loss or his clutch one-wave heroic in the semis, but whatever ignited him his title winning performance was a display of greatness! ## What do you like best about the waves at Jennette’s Pier? The things I liked most about Jennette's pier was the similarity it had to Huntington Pier: it had a great outside section to a punchy inside closeout which was super fun. Age you started surfing? My dad taught me in Hawaii when I was 3 years old. Surf crew: The Simmer family Caity and Timo. Local spot: Oceanside North Jetty. What is the best thing about calling Oceanside your home? The community. I can surf any break with a handful of people I know and respect. Local heroes: John Daniels because he is a hard-working man and helps a lot of groms which is pretty rad. Favorite pro surfer: Bobby Martinez because he has the best style and backside attack. If you could surf like anyone in the world who would it be? I would love to surf like Jordy Smith. He is a big guy but can use that to his advantage keeping his surfing as smooth as butter. Surfers at Nationals that blew your mind: Every Nationals Dimitri Poulos always blows my mind, he consistently puts up massive scores and is just an absolute hammer. Another person that was on a heater was Diego Ferri. He surfed so well in the Open Men's final and had the sharpest game plan, he was ripping. Fantasy superpower: To adjust my height, you never know when you will want to be tall. If you were not a competitive surfer what would you be? Probably a basketball player. I am pretty short but I’m a threat from behind the 3. Something people do not know about you: Don't leave me unguarded behind the 3-point line because I am a sharpshooter, haha! Dream wave: Skeleton Bay. It looks unreal! Barrels or Airs: Barrels, there is no feeling in the world better than a barrel. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My dad, he is always by my side and has given me the extra push in surfing to help me accomplish my goals. Goals for 2020/21: As soon as events get running, my goal is to have a consistent season and win Regionals/Nationals in both Open and Explorer. Thank yous: I would love to thank all my sponsors, Luke Stedman, John Daniels, and my dad and mom for everything they have done.

Surfer of the Week - 11/25/2020


Age: 15
Hometown: Makaha, Hawaii
School: Kamehameha Schools; 10th grade
Sponsors: Vans, Aloha Modern, SmileWave Fund, All Good Sunscreen, DVM
Equipment: Longboard: Flight Duane DeSoto Model 9'1" Shortboard: MSquared Surfboardz 5'7" & 5'8", Korps 5'7" & 5'8"
Claim to Fame: The performance Pua DeSoto put forth at the 2020 National Championships in Nags Head, North Carolina was nothing short of sensational. The 15-year-old who calls the legendary surf town of Makaha, Hawaii her home, finished with four National titles bringing her career total up to six. What makes her accomplishment even more special was the four championship victories comprised two in the Longboard categories and two in shortboard including the premier Open Womens title, cementing her place in surf history. “I am humbled, it is hard to believe,” Pua said. “The names of all of the Opens Women’s champions, these are my heroes and to be added to the prestigious list, I am speechless.” Pua’s triumphs in firing surf at Jennette's Pier is up there in legendary status because of her remarkable skill and impressive versatility in both shortboard and longboard surfing. Her talent comes as no surprise as her dad Duane won the World Longboard Championships in 2010. Duane, who is a devoted and expert waterman, has passed his passion for the ocean and wave riding prowess to his daughter. Pua trains on a shortboard but when she is free surfing, she chooses a variety of different boards: longboard, paipo, alaia, bullyboard, boogie board or just fins. Her Hawaiian heritage is clearly at the top of her priorities. “Surfing is not just a sport to me, it is a cultural practice,” Pua said. “When surfing, I am honoring my ancestors and breathing life into our lahui (nation). I am super clear that I have an obligation to make sure that all Hawaiian children know that there is a place for them in the cultural practice of heʻenalu (wave sliding). And, if you want to work hard there is a place for you in the competitive surfing culture too.” Raised in a family of traditional values, Pua is fluent in the Hawaiian language and can speak it effortlessly in her conversations and speeches. “Hawaii is the only state with two legal languages,” she said. “I attended Hawaiian language schools from preschool to sixth grade. The language, like surfing is a cultural practice and I hope to make my lahui proud.” When she is not riding waves, Pua is hitting the books. A sophomore at Kamehameha Schools, she is currently taking honors and AP classes. She has also branched out into business starting her own company “Puating Hawaiʻi” with her sister Keanuenue. This year, Pua will continue to sharpen her skills and stay competitive. She is on pace to make a run at surpassing some giants on the all-time National Championship victory list such as Caroline Marks with nine titles and Carissa Moore with 11. “Having my name in the same sentence as Caroline and Carissa...WOW,” Pua said. “The Open Women’s trophy has a special place in our living room and every time I walk past it, I peek at the names and still cannot believe it. The list of champions on the trophy is so special and a reminder that I have a lot of work to do. Riss, Aunty Megan (Abubo) and Caroline are on there. My biggest takeaway is to get back to work and chase some records!” ## What do you like best about the waves at Jennette’s Pier? I love the wave at Jennette's Pier, it is such a unique wave. The waves were pumping and I was so excited to surf there. It is similar to a lot of waves at home because it is so powerful. It was special to surf a similar type of wave in a completely different ocean. Age you started surfing: I was 5 months old when I started surfing with my dad. I was 3-years-old when I could catch my own waves. Surf crew: My coach Doug Silva, Chloe Reynolds, my dad and all my brothers and sisters Keānuenue, Kalānōweo, Kaipoʻi, Hōkūwelo, Honua and also my cousins. Favorite pro surfer: My dad Duane DeSoto. I was there when he won his world title! Local spot: Makaha. What is the best thing about calling Makaha your home? My Makaha ʻohana for sure! All my aunties and uncles at the beach take care of me, have my back, share waves and cheer me on. Aunty Rell & Aunty Pua are legends. Their values are very much alive at Makaha Beach. They are water women that laid the path for Hawaiian female surfers like myself. I am so proud to bring home the Open Womenʻs championship this year to truly honor our Makaha heroes and also excite the youth that they too can achieve anything they set their mind to. Pro surfers from your area you look up to: Aunty Melanie Bartels. She can do anything in the ocean paipo, alaia, stand up, longboard, bodysurf, bullyboard and she rips on a shortboard. If you could surf like anyone in the world who would it be? Duke, because I would take his mentality “the best surfer is the one having the most fun.” I always surf the best when I am having fun. And Carissa Moore, I would take her strength. Her power turns are critical. Dream wave: Teahupoo, Peahi and Uluwatu. Big heavy waves are one of my areas of focus. Who has pushed your surfing the most? Myself! My dad always resisted us being pro surfers and really prioritized education, college and business. When I was 11-years-old, I had to sit my mom and dad down and say this is what I want, I am willing to work hard, and I am committed but I need your support. From that day, my parents became my biggest supporters. Sometimes you have to be your biggest advocate especially if it is your dream. No matter how much my coach, sponsors, and parents do for me I still need to get the job done at the end of the day. Goals: Win an Olympic Gold Medal like my hero Duke Kahanamoku. Thank yous: Doug Silva, my parents, my sister Keanuenue, my best friend Jasmine, all my siblings, my grandparents, ancestors, and my Makaha ʻohana. My sponsors SmileWave Fund, Aloha Modern, DVM, Vans and All Good Sunscreen. who are really my village. They love and support me win or lose!

Surfer of the Week - 11/15/2020


Age: 16
Hometown: Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii
School: Penn Foster High School, 11th grade. Favorite subject: Math
Sponsors: Rip Curl, Dakine, Vertra, Mokulele Airlines, Raynor, FCS, Charming Shark, Matunas, Seven Brothers, Globe, Oakley
Equipment: 5’6” CI Happy or 5’7” Raynor Mixplate
Claim to Fame: When Diego and his family left Hawaii for North Carolina to compete in the first ever Nationals on the east coast, they knew it would be challenging with the travel restrictions. But they were unrelenting in their pursuit, especially because of Diego’s disappointing performance in 2019 due to illness. He worked harder than ever to prepare for 2020. “Travel to the east coast was easy but we knew that coming home would be more complicated,” Diego said. “Even though it would be difficult, it was important for me to get there, put the jersey back on, and compete. 2019 Nationals was a rough one because I had been sick for a while. Having a good result at Nationals this year meant that all the work I had done was worth it.” It was more than worth it as the 16-year-old from Kailua put together a sensational campaign of heats ending with him capturing the esteemed Open Mens National title. Diego was in a strong rhythm at Jennette’s Pier, looking right at home in the firing overhead beach break peaks produced by Hurricane Epsilon. “Never would I have imagined such epic surf on the east coast,” he said. “That week, Jennette’s Pier reminded me a lot of one of my home breaks on the east side of Oahu. The surf was pumping!” Diego’s intense fortitude revealed itself in the Open Men’s semis where a broken leash mid heat did not stop him from racing back out to the lineup and nailing an 8.30 score at the hooter which put him into advancing position. “That heat was a roller coaster of emotions,” he said. “It felt like the hurricane was just outside the lineup, my leash broke in the middle of the heat and with five minutes left I was needing a score. I was so focused on getting back out to the lineup that I did not have time to doubt myself. When that wave came to me with one-minute left all I can remember is telling myself to stick the landing.” The Open Mens final was a stacker with Diego going up against Dimitri Poulos, Max Beach and fellow Hawaiian Makana Franzmann. Right off the bat, he picked up two solid waves of 6.77 and 7.27 and then put down the hammer with an excellent 9.43. “In the the final I got two good scores early, but when the heat was winding down, I was expecting one of the other competitors to throw down a crazy buzzer beater. Longest five minutes of my life! When the heat ended and I had won, it just felt surreal, I was so happy!” It surely was a monumental finish to a historic National Championship event! ## What did you like best about the waves at Jennette’s Pier? You can get big hacks on the outside and connect it to the inside to hit the close out. Age you started surfing: I was 7-years-old when my dad taught me how to surf. Favorite pro surfers: Andy Irons, because he had the best style and was amazing in all conditions. Also, the translation of Ferri from Italian is “irons”. Surf crew: Aka San Luis, Kiva Wertheimer, Kai Martin, Bruno Ferri. Fantasy superpower: Teleportation because if the waves were pumping anywhere in the world you could just snap your fingers and be there in an instant. Hobbies: Skateboarding. Local spot: Pyramid Rock. What is the best thing about living in Hawaii? It's a small island, we have waves all year round and we can always drive to the best waves quickly whether it’s north, south, east or west. Also wherever I decide to surf, I usually know at least one or two people in the lineup. Surfers from around your hometown that you look up to: There are so many surfers that I look up. Mason Ho because he is so nice to everyone in the lineup and he always looks like he is having the most fun. Mason is one of the most exciting surfers to watch in all sorts of conditions. Kekoa Bacalso because he throws more spray than anyone and is very explosive and fun to watch. He could qualify for the CT if he wanted to. Brisa Hennessy because she surfs so good and made it out of the east side from my neighborhood. She has been my big sister since way back and she is always working hard to get better. Something people don't know about you. I was a BMX state champion when I was 7-years-old. Barrels or Airs: Both-I can’t decide! Goals? Grind the QS until I make the tour and then go for a world title while having a ton of fun surfing perfect waves all over the planet. Dream wave: Warm water perfect right hand point break with a barrel section, turn section and air section on the end. If you could surf like anyone in the world who would it be? Andy Irons because he is the perfect combination of relaxed, aggressive, and powerful. Who has pushed your surfing the most? I have been very lucky to have grown up in Hawaii with an incredible group of guys who have consistently continued to push each other in surfing and skating. The friendly competition on any day out in the lineup could be like a final in a national competition. Thank you’s: Dad, Mom, Matt Myers, Kekoa Bacalso, Doug Silva, Aunty Bobbi and Brisa Hennessy.

Surfer of the Week - 10/26/2020


Age: 13
Hometown: Carolina Beach, North Carolina
School: Homeschool; Favorite subject: Environmental Science
Sponsors: Dakine, Aussie Island Surf Shop, Carolina Surf Brand
Equipment: Stewart Ripster Custom shaped by Bill Stewart
Claim to Fame: The pumping surf conditions at the 2020 East Coast Regional Championships held September 11-13 at Carolina Beach provided many great individual performances and local boy Mack Landry was one of them. It wasn’t surprising that the 13-year-old would dominate in his local waters, especially with the firing surf conditions and that is exactly what transpired in both the Open and Explorer Longboard finals. Mack commanded the lineup showcasing his classic longboard style and skills in front of the hometown crowd successfully defending his 2019 Open Longboard Regional title while also taking out the Explorer victory. “With Regionals being at my local beach, I had a lot of confidence going into the contest,” he said. “Because the waves at Carolina Beach are always changing, no one really has an advantage. Conditions are different in every heat so I knew I just needed to get two good waves.” Mack’s run of championship achievements didn’t start at the Regionals. Back in 2018, just shy of his eleventh birthday, Mack stunned the older field, taking a spectacular win at the National Championships at Huntington Beach Pier in the Open Longboard division. He backed that up with another National title victory in 2019. And just a few days ago, Mack surfed his way into his third straight National Open Longboard final placing third in the nation in solid overhead surf at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head! ## Age you started surfing: I started surfing when I was 5 years old. Nickname: Macky and Mack Attack. Local spot: Alabama Ave. and the Carolina Beach Pier. Surf crew: Ethan Lowe, Phil Jackson and the Surf Dreams crew, AJ Jackson, Bree Labiak, Katelyn Sewell and Charles and Evan Oblinger. Favorite surfers: Mikey February and Tony Silvagni. Mikey because his style is similar to a longboard style but on a shortboard and Tony because he is a great longboarder and has been a brother to me since I was 5-years-old. What is the best thing about living in North Carolina? The food and the waves. Pro surfers from your area that you look up to: Tony Silvagni and Kani Stewart. Fantasy superpower: Teleportation so I can go wherever I want, whenever I want. Hobbies: Basketball and skating. Who has pushed your surfing the most? Tony Silvagni, my sister Ellie, AJ Jackson, Leigh Powell and Dylan Oweny. Thank yous: My parents and my sister for all the sacrifices they have made for me.

Surfer of the Week - 10/8/2020


Age: 14
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida
School: Homeschooled with private teacher; Favorite subject: Math
Sponsors: Billabong, Garden of Life, Proctor Surfboards, Dragon, Nomad Surfshop, Freak Traction, Jo Bistro, Shade Sunscreen
Equipment: 5'2" swallow tail speed carver from Todd Proctor
Claim to Fame: After a six-month wait to put the jersey back on, Kepa returned to competition at the 2020 East Coast Regional Championships at Carolina Beach, clearly another year stronger and with a lot more weapons. He added two more wins to his growing list of achievements which puts his Regional title count up to four (he won the Open Boys and Junior Airshow in 2019). The 14-year-old who calls West Palm Beach his home, put on a tremendous surfing display in the Open Juniors final in solid head-high surf, taking the victory over a stacked field of the top U15 east coast talent including defending champion Blayr Barton, Owen Carter and Charles Oblinger. “I was super excited to get that win and the waves were so fun for that event,” Kepa said. “I was just trying to be on the good waves and it paid off. It was pretty cool because Blayr and I were staying together at the Regionals and we work well together. And now my name will be on the event Banner of Champions forever!” In addition, Kepa is already demonstrating an innovative skill-set at such a young age that normally takes years to develop. He claimed his second straight Junior Airshow victory taking advantage of Carolina Beach’s good right ramps and going huge on his frontside airs. Even though Kepa pushes the creative envelope with his aerial ability, charging big waves and seeking out barrels is his passion which he undoubtedly gets from his Dad, world class power surfer and massive barrel extraordinaire Peter Mendia who was a NSSA standout in his teenage years himself but focused his attention on freesurfing. “My Dad doesn’t give me much info in contest surfing,” Kepa said. “He tells me to catch the good waves and just have fun. My Dad’s main thing is getting tubed and surfing good waves. Because of my Dad’s job, I’ve been going to Hawaii every winter since I was born. I have watched and learned from him year after year. It has definitely helped me with size, but the best thing he has ever shown and given me is the opportunity to feel the greatest thing in surfing and that is getting tubed.” With the spotlight shining on the Nationals in a couple weeks where it will be held for the first time on the east coast, Kepa is excited about the opportunity. “I'm super psyched it is on the east coast. I think it’s pretty sick that I am going to be a part of NSSA Nationals history!” ## What did you like best about the waves in Carolina Beach? They were good size waves and they had push. Age you started surfing: My Dad taught me when I was about 2-years-old. Nickname: Kep-dog, Stink. Local spot: Reef Road, Flag Pole. Surf crew: My Dad, Nick, Ella, Alexa, Chase, Seba. Favorite surfers: Ethan Ewing because his style is perfect and Mick because he is Mick. What is the best thing about living in Florida? Boating, fishing and insane hurricane swells. Pro surfers from your area that you look up to: My Dad & Uncle Baron Knowlton and Corman (Cory Lopez) because they all charge and get really tubed and that is what I want to do. If you could surf like anyone in the world, who would it be? John John, because he is the best at everything. What moves are you working on in your surfing? Anything AIR related. Fantasy superpower: To fly to eliminate travel time. Hobbies: Right now, fishing and skurfing. Something people do not know about you: I love fishing. Dream wave: 10 foot Backdoor barrel and get spit out. Barrels or Airs? Barrels. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My Dad for sure, he has been there for all of it. Goals: To get on TOUR and Win a WORLD TITLE. Thank yous: My mom, my Grandma Ann, she is my most favorite person in the whole world. Nick Lugo and Meatball (Micheal Mortimer) for teaching me how to shoot with a water photographer. And of course my sponsors for their continued support.

Surfer of the Week - 9/29/2020


Age: 14
Hometown: Ocean City, New Jersey
School: Private Homeschool HS curriculum while pursuing a dual degree through Rowan University
Sponsors: The Jetty Life, Heritage Surf & Sport, FCS, Clif Bar, Surface Sunscreen, ESA All Stars, Exodus Sport and Fitness
Equipment: Lost Mayhem Driver 2.0 5'8"
Claim to Fame: East Coast surfers had been waiting for it for nearly six months. And it was worth the wait. Carolina Beach was firing for the 2020 East Coast Championships held September 11-13 and Ocean City’s Mia Gallagher was eager and ready for the return. Little did she know that she would be one of the biggest headline grabbers at this year’s Regionals taking the win in the premier Open Womens division and becoming the first Northeast surfer to do it since Quincy Davis in 2010. In fact, Mia is the first from Ocean City, New Jersey to pull off an Open Women’s Regional victory, a title she has dreamt about since donning her first contest jersey. “I couldn’t be anymore stoked to bring home the win in Open Womens,” Mia said. “I have looked forward to this moment from the day I started competing. To have my name on the banner with some of my idols is insane.” Mia joins fellow NE surfer Davis on the Board of Champions along with professional surfing’s powerhouse Caroline Marks whose name appears on the East Coast champions list multiple times. After hoisting the prestigious Open Womens Regional cup, there was still work to do for the 14-year-old from the Garden State. She made finals in 4 divisions including a 3rd in Open Girls and 4th in Explorer Womens but it was the Explorer Girls where she went on a crushfest emerging victorious and adding another Regional title to her breakout performance. “After winning the Open, I went into the Explorer Girls final just wanting to have fun and surf as good as I could with no pressure,” Mia said. “And that is exactly what happened. It might have been the most fun heat I have ever surfed in. And all the girls were ripping!” Mia credits ESA All Star Coach Jason Motes and Ocean City surf legend Matt Keenan for giving her the motivational tools needed for the championship triumph. Both Jason and Matt have multiple NSSA titles between them. Matt has also collected two National titles so clearly Mia will draw on his experiences and knowledge as she focuses on a National title quest in a few weeks! ## The best thing about Carolina Beach? I have never surfed Carolina Beach until Regionals. I loved how the waves had open face and gave everyone an opportunity to showcase their skills. Age you started surfing: My Dad taught me how to surf when I was 10 years old. Nickname: Mia G Grom. Local spot: 7th Street. Surf crew: My sister, my Dad and local crew at home. When I travel it is the girls on the ESA All Star team. Favorite surfers: Carissa Moore, Caroline Marks and Tatiana Weston-Webb because they are all great role models to look up to, not only because they rip, but they are great human beings. What is the best thing about living in Ocean City? Being able to ride my bike or just walk up the street to surf whenever there are waves. Pro surfers from your area that you look up to: Rob Kelly, Matt Keenan and Andrew Gesler – they all live in my town and they all shred. They are all awesome in and out of the water. If you could surf like anyone in the world, who would it be? Caroline Marks, because she surfs so powerfully, she charges, and she is from the East Coast! Superpower: Teleportation so I do not have to fly places to surf! Hobbies: Swimming, running, golfing and skateboarding. Something people do not know about you: I used to be super into theater before I started surfing. Dream wave: Anywhere in the Maldives. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My sister Brynn because she wants me to be the best I can be and I want her to be the best she can be. Goals: To make the World Tour with a college degree and be the best version of myself. Thank yous: I want to thank my parents, family, my sponsors and all of the people who support me and my dreams!

Surfer of the Week - 9/21/2020


Age: 15
Hometown: Sandbridge, Virginia Beach, Virginia
School: Kellam High School; 10th grade. Favorite subject: Math
Sponsors: Hurley, Oakley, Sun Bum, WRV surfboards, FCS
Equipment: WRV, 5'9" round tail
Claim to Fame: Competitive surfing made a roaring comeback after being shut down for over six months when the 27th annual East Coast Regional Championships went off September 11-13 at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. It was an action packed three days with stacked fields of young competitors and veterans from up and down the eastern seaboard. Perhaps making the biggest statement of the 2020 East Coast Champs was 15-year-old Blayr Barton who repeated a back-to-back triple crown of titles. In 2019, the Virginia Beach native stomped his mark at Regionals winning 3 titles in Open Juniors, Explorer Juniors and the Airshow. This time, a year older and stronger, he turned the volume up with a powerful and innovative display of surfing winning the premier Open Mens division while successfully defending his Explorer Juniors and Airshow titles. In the Open Mens final, Blayr got off to a shaky start, but eventually found his rhythm. Putting on a clinic in the second half of the heat, he unloaded on the pumping Carolina Beach peaks throwing buckets to the heavens. It was a flat-out spectacular performance with wave scores posting at 9.47 and 8.23. “I was getting very frustrated because I couldn’t get a wave in the beginning of the heat,” Blayr said. “That made me want it more. Thankfully, the waves provided good opportunities.” Blayr credits Caribbean surfing legend Jason Apparicio for his guidance prior to the event. “Jason told me what I needed to improve on and get better at before this contest,” he said. “It was super helpful to me.” Heading into the 2020 National Championships, it is clear Blayr will come in with the confidence, firepower and aerial prowess needed to contend for the gold!##Favorite thing about Carolina Beach? I loved how the waves provided walls for us to do work on. Age you started surfing: I was 2-years-old when my Dad put me on my first surfboard. He taught me everything. Nickname: Air Blayr. Local spot: Porters Island Street in Sandbridge. Surf crew: Kepa Mendia, William Hedleston, Thatcher Johnson, Makana Franzmann. Favorite surfers: John John Florence because the way he surfs is unbelievable. I’ve grown up watching him. What is the best thing about living in Virginia Beach? The town is super mellow and it is close to the outer banks. Pro surfers from your area that you look up to: Michael Dunphy because he always was and still is a great surfer. I would always watch him compete at the ECSC. Fantasy superpower: To breathe underwater. Something people don’t know about you: I put ranch on everything I eat. Dream wave: Pipeline. Barrels or Airs: Airs. Who has pushed your surfing the most? Definitely my brother Kai. He always motivates me to do better even when I doubt myself. Goals: To win my first QS event and make the World Tour. Thank yous: I want to thank my family, friends and my girlfriend for always being there for me!

Surfer of the Week - 3/17/2020


Age: 15 (16 on March 18)
Hometown: San Clemente, California
School: San Clemente High School: 10th grade; Favorite subject: Math; GPA: 4.33
Sponsors: Mom and Dad!
Equipment: Rumaner surfboards, 5'4", 23 liter epoxy
Claim to Fame: It was an epic weekend for 15-year-old Julia who was competing for the San Clemente High School Junior Varsity surf team at the 2020 State Championships. In 2019, Julia took her first major championship win capturing the Junior Varsity Womens State title but at this year’s event she rose to the occasion with a beyond exceptional surfing display. Her backhand was sizzling on Seaside Reef’s infamous lefthanders racking up excellent scores which included a spectacular 18.17 heat total in the semifinals and a near perfect 19.54 in the final on scores of 9.87 and 9.67. Talk about putting on a Seaside clinic! “I have always felt more confident with my backside surfing, so I was super excited to see predominantly lefts at Seaside,” Julia said. “I went into the contest determined and I just kept my focus throughout the heats and didn't let anything distract me. I tried to just relax and have fun out in the water and I found a good spot with consistent waves.” Besides her impeccable back-to-back triumphant performance, she also helped lead the JV team to their sixth consecutive State title. “I feel so fortunate to be a part of the San Clemente surf team,” she said. “Coach Dowell is a great coach and has offered me insight into my surfing that has really helped. All the amazing surfers on the team are constantly pushing me to surf the best I can. It's a supportive environment knowing your team is supporting you and cheering you on!” In addition to team events, Julia competes in the Southwest Open where she is ranked in the Womens top 10. “I love competing in the NSSA contests," she said. "All the girls are so impressive and inspire me to do better. I am a very competitive person and competing in the Opens keeps me on track with my training and constant efforts to improve my surfing and compete the best I can!” Favorite thing about Seaside Reef: I love how Seaside has a reef, so it has a designated take off spot, making it easier to surf. Age you started surfing: My dad taught me to surf when I was 10. Local spot: T-Sreet, Lowers. Surf crew: My best friends Reese Dewey, Reese Hartnett, Makayla Moss. Favorite surfers: Coco Ho because I love her style, Bethany Hamilton because she only has one arm, is a mom and still totally rips and the Gudauskas' brothers because they are so generous in sharing surfing with people who wouldn't otherwise get to experience it. What is the best thing about living in San Clemente? Living so close to the beach with great waves and being able to enjoy it all with my friends. Fantasy Superpower: I would love to be able to fly! If you could surf like anybody who would it be? I would like to surf like Italo because he is so good and pulls off the craziest moves that look like it would be so fun. Hobbies: I like playing the piano, reading and playing with my adorable baby sister Rosie. Something people don’t know about you: I lived in Las Vegas until I was 10. Dream wave: Chicama in Peru. I would love to go there some day. Favorite thing about surfing in the NSSA contests: I love that it's 4- person, 20 minute heats, with priority and live scoring. And I love competing at new spots and being at the beach with my friends and family. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My friends have pushed me throughout the years to be the best surfer I can be. Also, when I first started surfing competitively, I trained with Coach Brandon Phillips with VERT Performance, and that changed my surfing so much and made me into the surfer I am today. Goals for the season: Do the best I can in every contest and requalify for Prime next season. Thank yous: I would love to thank my amazing family who is so supportive with everything I do. Coach Dowell for giving me awesome advice and everyone at NSSA for putting on such great contests.

Surfer of the Week - 3/3/2020


Age: 15
Hometown: Newport Beach, California
School: Liberty University, 9th grade. Favorite subject: History
Sponsors: Hurley, Pyzel Surfboards, Sticky Bumps wax.
Equipment: Pyzel model 74 at 5’9, 18.5, 2.13, 23.2L
Claim to Fame: Zeke had a breakout performance in a big way at the Southwest Open Season event 8 held at Salt Creek. The 15-year-old Newport Beach native not only made his first final of the 19/20 season, but he took it all the way claiming the first win of his NSSA career. “I was really stoked and surprised to make it into the final and finish up with a 1st place,” Zeke said. “My surfing felt pretty good throughout the day, but it definitely felt the best in the final. The waves that afternoon got really good after the wind backed off and the sets started coming in more frequently.” Zeke started competing in the NSSA when he was 12 and has been steadily working his way up the highly competitive and intense Open Juniors age bracket. Now in his final year of the division, he has been making big strides not only winning at Salt Creek but earning back-to-back finals appearances placing fourth at last weekend’s Open event 9 at Oceanside Pier. Zeke is being coached by former World Tour surfer Brett Simpson who is clearly making an impact on his improved skills and competitive results. “Brett and I train for contests by figuring out how to surf the waves where the contest is located and surf those waves to their maximum potential.” Also notable is that Zeke is part of that rising crop of talent coming out of the Newport Beach community and credits former professional surfer Todd Miller for energizing Newport’s fresh youth momentum. “I’m really stoked to have such a sick group of friends to surf with in Newport,” Zeke said. “We all push each other to be the best surfers we can be. Todd has definitely been at the center of it. He always takes us surfing and helps us out. It’s super cool to see so many good surfers coming out of Newport!” ## Favorite thing about Salt Creek: The air section on the right. Age you started surfing: I was about 8-years-old. My Dad and Grandpa taught me. Local spot: River Jetties. Surf crew: Taj Miller, Hadyn Norwood, David O’Keefe, Jojo Whelan, Nick Rivera, Zander Adelhson, my Dad and my Grandpa. Favorite surfers: Dane Reynolds because he is so unpredictable, Julian Wilson because of his flow and Ethan Ewing because of his style. Favorite surfers from Newport: Todd Miller because of how cool and funny he is and Dave Post because he rips and is super nice. What is the best thing about living in Newport? The fun waves and awesome surf community. Fantasy Superpower: Teleportation so I can go to wherever the waves are firing. If you could surf like anybody who would it be? It would be Dane Reynolds because of how entertaining he is and no one else surfs like him. Hobbies: Film photography. Something people don’t know about you: I traveled around the world with my family for 10 months. Dream wave: Cloudbreak or Restaurants as a sand bottom right. Favorite thing about surfing in the NSSA contests: Hanging out at the beach all day with my friends and seeing all of them do good! Who has pushed your surfing the most? My Dad and Grandpa because of their support and pointers that have really helped improve my surfing. Goals for the season: Make finals in the NSSA Open and USA Prime. Thank yous: I’d like to say thank you to God, my family and friends and my sponsors.

Surfer of the Week - 2/5/2020


Age: 17
Hometown: Newport Mesa, California
School: Newport Harbor High School; 11th grade. Favorite subject: Math and Physics
Sponsors: Quiksilver, Darren Handley Designs (DHD), Caliente Southwest Grill, Citizen Water Co., Jack's Surfboards, and Tava Sunscreen.
Equipment: 6’1” DNA made by DHD
Claim to Fame: Southwest Open Season event 7 was held in firing conditions at HB Pier in about as picture perfect as southside’s infamous sandbars can get. Overhead, glassy righthand lines and bluebird conditions were on offer after the fog cleared and Jojo delivered an outstanding triumphant performance. Known as “Big Bird” (yes, name taken from the 8’2” Sesame Street character) to his family and friends, the 17-year-old got things going right off the bat, taking first in his round one heat and never let his foot off the gas. He won every heat leading up to the final and then prevailed stomping his first win of the season. “I got an 8.33 at the start of the heat and then patiently waited 10 minutes for a backup score” Jojo said. “After that, I decided to stay busy and build up to a solid back up because it was so inconsistent in the middle of the heat.” Jojo is in a comfort zone on southside growing up down the street in Newport and he used that knowledge and skill of HB’s notoriously tricky and changing conditions in the final. He also works with local Brett Simpson who has a ton to offer especially when it comes to heat strategy, positioning and insider tips for competing on surfing’s biggest stage. In 2018/19, Jojo had a breakthrough season looking like he was well on his way to a becoming a championship contender, but he suffered a major setback with a substantial injury at the West Coast Regionals. He broke his fibula in a freak accident in his heat sidelining him for the Nationals and wiping out any hopes of winning a 15U Open Juniors title. “Watching the championships was hard because that season had been one of my best yet,” he said. “But it was still fun watching everyone compete.” Refusing to indulge in self-pity, Jojo focused on the positives and used his injury as a catalyst for bigger and better things. Benefitting from the adversity rather than shrinking from it, he worked tirelessly rehabbing the leg all summer to make it back in time for the start of the 19/20 season. “The injury definitely made me mentally stronger. Staying out of the water for that long was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. It had a way of making me more motivated than ever to succeed no matter what new challenges come my way.” As if the injury never happened, Jojo approached the new season with determination and his surfing is clearly at a higher level as noted by his number 3 ranking in the Open Mens division. He is the second surfer from Newport to earn Surfer of the Week honors joining fellow Newport Harbor surfer David O’Keefe who won the award in December. “Newport Beach is a tight surf community, Jojo said. “We know everyone, and we all look out for each other in and out of the water!” Favorite thing about HB Pier: How rippable the wave is. It’s a high-performance wave and it’s the location of the US Open. Age you started surfing: I started surfing when I was about 5 years old with my Dad. We would go down to the beach every weekend and surf all morning. Local spot: Newport 56th Street. Surf crew: Taj Miller, David Okeefe, Aaron Clark, Hadyn Norwood, Zeke Choi and Zander Adehlson. Favorite surfers: Ethan Ewing, Dane Reynolds, and John John Florence. Both Ethan and John John have the best styles in the world and are all around super fun to watch. Dane is one of the best free surfers in the world and goes all in on each maneuver he does. Favorite surfers from Newport: Dave Post and Josh Hoyer. Both of those guys were super progressive in their era and still rip super hard to this day. Fantasy Superpower: To be as smart as Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty. Then I could do whatever I want. Hobbies: I like to play guitar every so often. Dream wave: A right version of Teahupoo. If you could surf like anybody in the world who would it be? I would want to surf like Ethan Ewing because he has one of the best styles and his rail surfing is impeccable. Favorite thing about surfing in the NSSA contests? You get to surf and hang out with all of your friends. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My Dad because he pushes me to be the best version of myself I can be and he teaches me that hard work and dedication will always lead to success. Goals for the season: Make World Juniors, win 3 NSSA’s or Primes and catch the biggest wave of my life. Thank yous: Big thank yous to my whole family for supporting me as well as Chad Wells, Brian Wallin, Laine Vaught, Heather Flanagan, every one of my sponsors and all of my friends for continuing to support me.

Surfer of the Week - 1/23/2020


Age: 11
Hometown: Santa Cruz, California
School: New Brighton Middle School; 6th grade. Favorite subject: Science
Sponsors: None yet
Equipment: Sharp Eye- 5’3” Holy Toledo Model
Claim to Fame: The Pacific Northwest lit up last weekend with a potent swell delivering powerful 8-12 foot surf for the Northwest Conference Explorer event 3 at Pleasure Point. Announcer and east side local Austin Smith Ford was calling it the “biggest he’s ever seen” for an event at the Point. Double overhead on the sets and Stryder looked about as loose as you can get riding incredible waves that looked like mountains. All of us including the crowd of spectators on the cliff watched the young 11-year-old explode on the massive, dreamy righthand walls posting 9-point rides in almost every heat. Stryder was unstoppable in the comfort zone of his local lineup earning his first win of the season in the mega talented Menehuene 12 & under division. “I was so happy to win because this whole season I have struggled in my heats,” Stryder said. “This contest was at the spot I surf almost every day and I have surfed it pretty big a few times so I knew where to position myself.” With his home break pumping, the New Brighton Middle School 6th grader known as Strydog to his family and friends took advantage taking the contest by storm with his strong surfing display, while making people stand up and take notice. In the physically demanding conditions, he also tested his skills in the upper bracket Boys 14 & under division advancing through heat after heat making that final as well with an impressive 4th place finish. “I was comfortable with the bigger waves in this contest because I am used to surfing Pleasure Point,” he said. “I have surfed it pretty big a few times this season on a step-up. It is so fun to surf those types of waves.” Stryder’s breakout performance clearly showcased his capability of riding giants, charging bombs and ripping huge turns. “This was my best contest ever and my best result with the highest scores I have ever received,” he said. “I posted a 9.17, a 9.83, another 9.17 and an 8.67. I have never gotten these types of scores. It felt so good!” Favorite thing about the waves at Pleasure Point: It offers up a wide variety of different style waves depending on the angle of swell. I really like the long lined up right handers. How old were you when you started surfing? My parents taught me how to surf when I was around 3 or 4. They would push me into waves at Pleasure Point and Capitola. Favorite pro surfers: Finn McGill because he is the whole package, John John Florence because he rules big boxy barrels, airs and power carves, And Italo for the same reasons. He is so exciting to watch. Favorite surfers who have come from Santa Cruz: Sam and Ben Coffey, Nat Young, Shawn Dollar, Austin Smith Ford and Nic Hdez. They all are super insane surfers and really nice to me all the time! What is the best thing about living in Santa Cruz? We have so many super fun surf spots up and down the coast. Surf crew: James Daniel, Koa Depuydt, Jackson Taylor, and Adam Bartlett. Fantasy superpower: To breathe underwater, then I could surf the heaviest waves and not drown. Local spot: Pleasure Point. If you could surf like anybody in the world who would it be? Italo - He is insane at airs, barrels and huge carving turns. Something people don't know about you: I love Nutella french toast from Harbor Cafe- it is soooo Goooood! Who do you train with? Austin Smith Ford and Nic Hdez- they talk about good wave selection, how to manage the clock and tips on my surfing. Both those guys are so good and I have learned a lot from them. Dream wave: A wedging right hander that barrels and then has a sick air section. Who has pushed your surfing the most? James Daniel and Koa Depuydt – Every time I surf with them they push me to surf a lot harder and bigger. If it wasn’t for those guys I probably wouldn’t be surfing as well as I am today. Goals for the 19/20 season: To surf consistently well and try to finish as high as I can. I really want to do well at Regionals this year too. Thank yous: My Mom and Dad and Sister Summer. They all support me so much and encourage me to do my absolute best. Also my best buddy James Daniel for being such a great friend!

Surfer of the Week - 1/15/2020


Age: 13
Hometown: Kona, Hawaii
School: Acellus Academy; 7th Grade. Favorite subject: History
Sponsors: Billabong, Reef, Slater designs, Dakine, Mokulele Airlines
Equipment: 4' 5" Tomo Sci-Fi
Claim to Fame: Jackson is only 13-years-old and he is already taking his surfing to big levels. The 7th grader known as “Jacko” to his family and friends went on a tear in his home waters at the NSSA Hawaii event at Banyans winning three divisions including an impressive victory in the Open Mens division. Surfing runs in his family. His Dad, Shane Dorian was a successful professional surfer spending over a decade on the World Tour and it is quite obvious he is passing along the blueprint to his son. “My Dad gives me a lot of useful tips that I try to utilize as much as possible,” Jackson said. “He takes me to the beach to surf every day and films my friends and me which helps a lot. At contests, he keeps me focused and helps me with a game plan.” Jackson is already becoming one of the most popular amateurs in the country -- not just for his name, but for his game and evolving aerial skills. Delivering a fantastic all-around and progressive performance at Banyans winning the Explorer Juniors, Open Juniors and Open Mens, Jackson showed he is one of the new generation of talented kids coming out of the islands. “I felt more confident surfing the contest at my home break,” he said. “The waves were all time all day and I got lucky and landed a couple of airs.” Innovative surfing is something Jackson focuses on. He names his favorite surfers, Italo and John John because “their surfing is incredible”. And his 2019/20 season goals prove his dedication to pushing the progression limits. “I just want to land good airs in heats!” he says. It’s going to be fun watching Jackson grow as a surfer. We can’t wait to see what he brings to the Nationals this year! Favorite thing about Banyans: It’s just super rippable, and it’s home. Age you started surfing: My Dad taught me to surf. I started shortboarding when I was nine. Favorite thing about surfing in the NSSA Hawaii contests? How much fun they are! Lots of ripper kids to surf with. Local spot: Banyans. What is the best thing about living on the Big Island? You make a lot of friends. Surf crew: Luke Heflin, Brodi Sale, Max Germond, Kaiola Bray, CJ Bruno, Kaiden Lieto. Favorite surfers: Italo and John Florence because their surfing is incredible. Favorite surfers from the Big Island: I really look up to my friend Brodi Sale because he surfs insane. Fantasy Superpower: Invisibility. Hobbies other than surfing: Skateboarding, ping pong and climbing trees. Dream wave: A perfect barrel, a roundhouse into another barrel then an air. If you could surf like anybody in the world who would it be? I would like to surf a mix of Italo Ferreira and John John. Who has pushed your surfing the most? Brodi Sale and Diesel Storm Butts because those guys surf so good. Thank yous: my Dad, Mom, Billabong, Reef, Slater designs, Dakine, Mokulele, Mike Parsons, Trav Lee and Micah Byrne.

Surfer of the Week - 12/21/2020


Age: 15
Hometown: San Clemente, California
School: Cal Prep Academy; 9th grade. 4.2 GPA. Favorite subject: Math
Sponsors: Sisstrevolution, Dragon Alliance, Lost Surfboards
Equipment: Lost Surfboards, Mayhem, Driver 2.0, 5’5”
Claim to Fame: Going into the 2020 National Championships, Sawyer was clearly a frontrunner to hoist the National Open Girls 14U trophy. During the 2019/20 Southwest Conference regular season, she won a total of 10 events, five in Open Womens and five in Open Girls. In her final year in the Girls, she was poised to lock up championship titles. She was basically unstoppable until Covid capsized the remaining events on the regular season schedule. So, when the Nationals was announced to go off in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Sawyer’s pursuit of a National title was no longer out of reach. She practiced at her local break T-Street every day to prepare for the conditions that could conceivably mimic Jennette's Pier. With her dad Marc by her side, Sawyer made her return to the contest scene after more than half a year out of the jersey. “I was just really grateful and excited to compete after not putting a jersey on for 6 months,” she said. “It was my first time in the OBX. The waves were super fun, the weather was sunny and there was no wind. It was such a fun week.” For the Lindblad family, the passion for surfing is in their DNA. Marc was a standout NSSA competitor back in the 80’s and at the 1988 National Championships, he just missed out on the Open Mens National title in a 1st place tiebreaker that went to Taylor Knox. Her brother Taj reached the milestone in 2019 when he was crowned National Open Mens Champion. A year later, his sister in a similar situation with a National title within reach, Taj’s advice was “just have fun.” In the Girls final, Sawyer opened with a 6.5 which ended up being a throwaway because excellent scores are crucial for winning titles. True to her fighting form, she got things seriously rolling hammering an 8.0 ride and then unleashed on an 8.83 to give her the convincing win. Following her triumph Sawyer let on that she followed her brother’s advice saying, “my game plan was to just have fun and try my best.” Besides surfing, Sawyer puts a lot of effort in her studies. She is currently a 9th grader at Cal Prep Academy and carries a 4.2 GPA. Her goals are to continue focusing on school and do well in QS events but for now, she can relish in being a 2020 National Champion. “It feels really good to be crowned the top 14U surfer in the nation,” she said. “I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to compete in Nationals during these crazy times!” ## What do you like best about the waves at Jennette’s Pier? I liked the lefts right in front of the judges. Age you started surfing? I was around 8 years old when I started surfing. My dad taught me. Surf crew: Anyone out in the lineup. Local spot: Lowers and T-Street. What is the best thing about calling San Clemente your home? There are always waves somewhere in town. Local heroes: My brother Taj because he is a crazy good surfer and an all-around good person. Favorite pro surfers: Bobby Martinez and Owen Wright because they have the best backside in the world. If you could surf like anyone in the world who would it be? My dad Marc and my brother Taj because they both have a really good style and I never know what they are going to do on a wave. Surfer at the Nationals that impressed you: Rex Hennings because he surfed really good at Jennette’s Pier and won his division. Fantasy superpower: To speak every language. If you were not a competitive surfer what would you be? Either a soccer player or a tennis player. Something people do not know about you: I like baking and reading. Dream wave: Macaronis, Indonesia. Who has pushed your surfing the most? My brother Taj because he is always doing really good turns which gets me excited to try and show him up. Goals for 2021: To do well in school and in the WSL QS events. Thank yous: Thank you to my family!!!