The second-ever PacSun WSA Prime event held Saturday at Church Beach, San Onfore outside of San Clemente lived up to its hype, even if Hurricane Norbert didn’t. The expected southern surge never showed as the Hurricane veered inland while still in Mexico, but the 112 invite-only surfers comprised of California’s top Under-18 surfers absolutely made a showing with memorable heat after memorable heat being staged in the wind-blown surf just south of San Clemente. Church provided the best sanctuary from the North wind, being sheltered somewhat in a cove, and was probably the best place to surf in Southern California.
Perhaps fittingly the final event of the afternoon—the girls’ Under-18 final—featured a see-saw battle between a pair of Team USA surfers who simply would not yield until the final horn sounded and 16-year-old Courtney Conlogue emerged from the water victorious. Conlogue had to rally to knock off fellow Team USA team member Lakey Peterson, 13, who opened the four-surfer final with a pair of big scores—an 8.50 and a 6.17 to take an early lead. Taylor Pitz, also a Team USA member, got on the board with a 6.17 by moving to the southern section of the surf area, utilizing the extra space made available as the girls final was the last event of the day which had featured side-by-side heats in two sections.
But it would be the battle between Conlogue and Peterson that would dominate the heat, and with just seven minutes left, Peterson held on to her lead. Then Conlogue struck, firing left up the beach, then snapping right with a huge move to score a 7.93 and grab the lead. The regular footer from Santa Ana followed that wave with another left, this time showing off her vast technical skills with a series of big snaps off the lip good for an 8.93.
But Peterson wouldn’t go quietly; the Santa Barbara native responded with a speedy charge on a right, rifling down the line for a 7.93 of her own. But time would run out on her rally, giving Conlogue the win with 16.86 points to her 16.43. Pitz was third with 9.60 points and Cassidy Wehsener was fourth.
“I knew she was going to get that wave,” said a smiling Peterson after the heat. “I saw her paddling down and saw her get that right. She’s just too good.”
Conlogue acknowledged her Team USA teammate’s efforts. “She got that first 8.5 and I was thinking “Uh-oh,”” said Conlogue. She’s been surfing so well lately I knew I had to respond.”
The win is Conlogue’s second in as many WSA Prime events and capped a great day of surfing with a number of other finals also featuring down-to-the-wire heats.
The Boys U-16 final was equally close, as less than a full point separated first and fourth. Twin brothers Jared and Taylor Thorne faced off against locals Kolohe Andino and Ian Crane, and the foursome matched wave for wave for the entire 25 minutes before a winner was called. Andino opened the scoring with a 7.83, followed by a 6.33 by Jared Thorne, a 6.17 from Crane and a 6.73 by Taylor Thorne. That exchange continued throughout the heat, but it was Taylor Thorne who was able to seal the win and hold off Andino by 13.73 to 13.66. Jared Thorne was third with 13.06 followed by Crane with 12.80. “This format is great,” said Andino, “It’s like a QS (World Qualifying Series) event!”
In the Boys U-18 final, Dane Zaun held off a late rally by Christian Arballo to win with Chase Wilson taking third and Victor Done grabbing fourth. “For every kid, probably the biggest thing you could do is be on the USA Surf Team. So every kid down at the WSA’s is trying their hardest to make a statement in front of Surfing America and everybody that works there,” said Zaun.
Kei Igarashi won the Boys Under 14, using a solid pair of late scores including an inside barrel to score a 13.77 to top Colin Moran’s 11.26. Capo Beach’s Jacob Davis was third (9.34) followed by Jake Marshall (7.16).
The Girls U-16 are really progressing under the PacSun WSA Prime’s adherence to ISA and ASP criteria. They are figuring out how to manage 20 minute 4 person heats and really committing to big moves on the set waves. WSA Prime Director, Greg Cruse, said “It’s amazing to see the difference since the first event. The kids are starting to understand that it isn’t about groveling for two waves with 5 other kids in a 15 minute heat. They are growing and showing patience and really starting to surf to ASP criteria!” San Clemente’s Melina Smith won the Girls U-16, scoring a pair of impressive rights in the middle of the heat to stave off a late charge by Huntington Beach’s Anise Guzman. Smith’s 14.84 bettered Guzman’s 13.10, while Emmy Merrill took third and Ventura’s Catherine Clark was fourth.
Nalu’s Island Grill stoked out the crowd with their incredible Hawaiian Plate Lunch. In addition to the unique custom trophies, all the finalists were stoked to receive PacSun gift cards and Soleo Organics Sunscreen.
Next stop on the PacSun WSA Prime Series is event number 3 at Oceanside Harbor, South Jetty on December 6.
Final Results For The PacSun WSA Prime 2008 At Church:
Boys Under 18
1. Dane Zaun – Hollyglen
2. Christian Arballo – Oceanside
3. Chase Wilson – Newport Beach
4. Victor Done – Newport Beach
Boys Under 16
1. Taylor Thorne – Newport Beach
2. Kolohe Andino – San Clemente
3. Jared Thorne – Newport Beach
4. Ian Crane – San Clemente
Boys Under 14
1. Kanoa Igarashi – Huntington Beach
2. Colin Moran – Costa Mesa
3. Jacob Davis – Capistrano Beach
4. Jake Marshall – Encinitas
Girls Under 18
1. Courtney Conlogue – Santa Ana
2. Lakey Peterson – Santa Barbara
3. Taylor Pitz – Laguna Beach
4. Cassidy Wehsener – Encinitas
Girls Under 16
1. Melina Smith – San Clemente
2. Anise Guzman – Huntington Beach
3. Emmy Merrill – San Clemente
4. Catherine Clark – Santa Monica
About WSA Prime
WSA Prime is an affiliate of the Western Surfing Association, dedicated to providing the best under 18 surfers in the West the best competition format imaginable. ASP certified judging, 4 person 20 minute heats, 25 minute finals, computer scoring, professional announcing and the best surf spots on the west coast, make WSA Prime the highest level of amateur surfing on the West Coast. Top WSA Prime Surfers qualify for the Surfing America USA Surfing Championships and are eligible for consideration by the Surfing America USA Surf Team. WSA Prime Surf Series is sponsored by PacSun, Soleo Organics, StickyBumps, Nalu’s Island Grill, Surfline and TransWorld SURF. WSAPrime.org.
About Surfing America
Surfing America is the ISA-recognized National Governing Body for Surfing in the United States and is responsible for holding the official USA Championships and for selecting and fielding the USA Surf Team. The International Surfing Association (ISA) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the World Governing Authority for Surfing, Bodyboarding, and Surfriding. WSA is a Member Organization of Surfing America serving West Coast athletes. SurfingAmerica.org.