All photos courtesy Tupat
New Smyrna Beach, Florida: On Sunday, Oct. 12, the New Smyrna Beach Chapter of Christian Surfers completed their fifth annual “Before the Fall” Pro-Am Surf Contest at the Bethune Beach boardwalk, south of New Smyrna Beach. Aaron Cormican, 29, of NSB, defended his 2007 title in the four man Pro Final against three of his fellow local surfers, winning $ 800. Second was Evan Geiselman, 16, who won $ 600, third Nils Schweizer, $ 400 and fourth, Jeremy Johnston, $ 200. In the Women’s Pro Amy Nicholl, 18, of NSB won $ 250 for first place and the Pro Longboard Champion was Todd Kinsey, 22, also of New Smyrna Beach, winning $250.
Surf conditions for the two day event were good, with a 3-4 foot northeast swell providing long rides and high-scoring opportunities for the Mens Pro Finalists. All four finalists are active and successful
campaigners on the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Qualifying Series, so while they often travel together to various contests around the world, this was a chance to seize local bragging rights in their home waters. Cormican, the senior of the four, and a multiple ASP contest winner for several years, was true to form with spectacular re-entries and a couple of his trademark sliding reverses to tally a 9.0 and an 8.5 for his winning two wave total. Still, the suspense for the spectators held until the final announcement because the great rides of his three opponents left the outcome too close to call. Geiselman, the young goofyfoot, scored a long left late in the 25 minute set that allowed him to boost an aerial on the inside for his best score of 8.5, which he backed up with an 8.0. Schweizer had his supporters cheering madly on a late “buzzer-beater” that yielded an 8.0 and gave him hope for the win. His second score was a 7.5. Johnston, who was fresh from a big Pro-Am victory at the Unsound Pro in New York, in September, was unlucky to finish with a 7.7 and 7.5 in the fierce battle. Numbers that usually would be enough to win most Finals. Head Judge Dylan Feindt, himself a highly-rated judge on the ASP North American circuit, said it was one of the best finals he had seen this year, and none of the excited spectators would disagree.
Beginning with a format of 22 Mens Pro competitors from around the State, all the local finalists on Sunday enjoyed vocal and emotional support from friends and family because the fifth year event has become
a kind of de-facto “New Smyrna Beach Annual Championship”. Veteran commentator Travis Ajay made the astute observation that the event “would provide the bragging rights for one year, amongst the deepest
talent pool of young pros in North America”. Strong talk in San Clemente or Cocoa Beach, but undisputed amongst longtime spectators who watched the Final. Unique amongst many “surf towns”, New Smyrna Beach
contests retain a strong family atmosphere, as evidenced by the fact that each of the four finalists is a second, or third, generation surfer who had at least one of those surfing parents on hand for
support. As Christian Surfers Organizer Kate Whatley said, ” Dale (Cormican) was there, Leon (Johnston) was there, Gina and Greg (Geiselman) were there and Missy and Kevin (Schweizer) were there. That
kind of loving support is what makes the event so special, along with the opportunity for us to make a Christian outreach to the surfing community”.
Kate and her husband, Bill Whatley started the local chapter of Christian Surfers and developed the “Before the Fall” event as an outreach that would incorporate their own commitment to surfing competition. Both former US National Amateur champions, Bill and Kate “put their money where their mouths are” by still competing in their own event, and well. Kate took fourth place in the Womens Pro and Bill was second in the Longboard Pro, both competing against other finalists who were half their ages. “We’re very stoked that this has become the most important Pro event in New Smyrna, and Volusia County”, said Bill Whatley. “That’s why we decided at the beginning to have as much prize money as we could afford, and hire ASP Judges to make the results legitimate”. “We think it’s great that these top pros will have one of these beautiful crosses
as a trophy on their mantelpieces, long after the money gets spent”.
Unfortunately, conspicuous in his absence from the competition was highly-rated ASP surfer Eric Geiselman, who is in the midst of rehab from a broken kneecap. Eric did make an appearance at the event to
support younger brother Evan, and remind his fellow Smyrnans that they would have to face him next year.
Bill and Kate extended their thanks to all the surfers who competed, and especially to all the volunteers who provided the hard work that makes the event possible.
Aaron Cormican video clip:
1st Place: Amy Nicholl, New Smyrna Beach, $ 250
2nd: Haley Watson $ 200
3rd: Alex Geesey $ 150
4th: Kate Whatley $ 100
1st Place: Todd Kinsey, New Smyrna Beach, $ 250
2nd: Bill Whatley $ 200
3rd: Michael Wood $ 150
4th: Daniel Glenn $ 100
Courtesy of: Christian Surfers of New Smyrna beach