The 30th NSSA National Championships enjoyed a spectacular finish in overhead surf at Lowers on Saturday, with amazing final heats in the Open Boys, Open Juniors, Open Womens, and Open Mens divisions. As the final heat sheets were getting penciled in, a sub-plot was creating a buzz. Tanner Hendrickson, the 16-year-old natural footer from Maui had gouged, bashed and slashed his way into both the Open Juniors and the prestigious Open Mens finals. These two, top-tier divisions hadn’t been won by the same surfer at Nationals since Kalani Robb pulled off the feat in 1993.
Judging by Tanner’s momentum heading into the finals, he appeared to have a legitimate shot at taking both titles. He rode into Nationals as the NSSA Hawaii Conference’s top-ranked Open Junior, having won the both the regular season and the regional championship.
“He made a couple of mistakes that took him out of contention in the Explorer division,” said Greg Hendrickson, Tanner’s dad and long-time coach. “But after that, he got back on track and won six straight heats between Open Juniors and Open Mens.”
In the Open Juniors final, Tanner faced defending National Champ Andrew Doheny (CA), Evan Geiselman (FL) and Evan Thompson (FL). Doheny came out with a frontside air reverse and posted a pair of 7.25 scores to set the bar. Hendrickson deposited a 6.25 on and as time was running out, he was still looking for a score in the mid 8-point range to overtake Doheny. In the heat’s waning moments, Geiselman, and Thomspon each posted big scores, dropping Hendrickson into 4th.
Hendrickson’s next crack at his first NSSA National title would be in the biggest heat of the week against Granger Larsen (HI), Nat Young (CA) and the youngest-ever Open Men’s finalist, super-grom Kolohe Andino (CA). Nat Young stole the show, opening with 9.50 and piling on a back-up 8.0 late in the heat. Larsen made a hard run at Young, with a pair of 8.50 scores, but came up short. Hendrickson put up a respectable 14.25 heat total to finish in 3rd ahead of Andino.
“When we added Tanner to the No Fear team early this year, we obviously knew he had a lot of talent,” said No Fear’s VP of Marketing, Britt Galland. “But to come to Nationals and make the finals in the two premier divisions against older and more seasoned competitors really exceeded our expectations. “He’s had a really good year, and he’s got two more years to grab an NSSA National title.”
“No Fear riders Kokoro Tomatsuri (CA), Dom DiPietro (CA), Kyle Galtes (HI), Britt Galland, Jr. (CA), Shane Holmes (FL), and Taylor Clark (CA) also had a good week at Nationals,” Galland added. Just qualifying for NSSA Nationals is an accomplishment to be proud of, and several of our riders achieved that goal this year.”
For complete results on the 2008 NSSA National Championships presented by No Fear, visit NSSA.org.