30-foot seas, howling winds, torrential rain, tornados… this was the weather in California the days prior to the Surfing America Prime at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz. Parents and kids were sending e-mails and text messages asking if the event would be called off. Magic Seaweed was forecasting 8–9 foot surf on Saturday declining rapidly through the weekend with clear, calm conditions. Marine Safety in Santa Cruz said there were no water quality issues—much to the disbelief of many Southern California competitors.
Everyone made the trek north to join their further-northern counterparts Nic Hdez, John Mel, and the Panesi brothers. The weather cleared on Friday morning and the waves settled into the 8-foot range with glassy conditions. A slight uptick in the surf overnight greeted the surfers with solid 10-foot waves sweeping down the point at Steamer Lane. The U18 Boys hit the water first and were greeted with an intimidating jump off the cliffs after negotiating a huge bull seal lion upset by the trespassers on his perch and the waves blasting over his usually dry domicile.
If they were lucky, they snagged a bomb set in the slot and then another at Indicators before being swept down to Cowell’s. The unlucky ones were caught inside by a sneaker set and swept down the point. The unluckiest one was Jake Tellkamp, who was blasted off the cliff by a set wave and went head-over-heals off the backside of the cliff, cutting his hand and dislocating his shoulder. He still managed to catch a wave at Indicators but didn’t advance before heading to the hospital.
It was impressive to watch the U14 Boys and the U16 Girls tackle the conditions. Kei Kobayashi from San Clemente and Griffin Colapinto from Capo Beach each are barely over 70 lbs wet, yet they were going for broke on waves 3x their size. 10-year-old Meah Collins dazzled the crowd with her heroics and earned her best finish in a Surfing America Prime (2nd Place) and an on-the-spot sponsorship from Rip Curl by their impressed team manager.
12-year-old Jacob Davis had an amazing first round heat in Boys U14 with a blistering wave from the slot all the way through Indicators that earned him a perfect 10. That was his follow up to a 9.1 he already had for the high heat total of 19.10 out of 20. Santa Cruz boy Nic Hdez showed his local knowledge by dominating the finals in both the U16 and U14 divisions for a double victory. Dana Point’s Lulu Erkeneff was on point all weekend. She noticed the in-between Middles Peak waves were popping up on the inside and holding a ripable wall all the way through Indicators. She had this peak almost to herself throughout the comp, but it quit producing on finals day and she settled for respectable 4th place finishes in both Girl’s finals.
In the U18 divisions, San Clemente’s Emmy Merrill had an amazing final. She blasted a near perfect 9.67 throwing what ASP Head Judge Wade Sharp called, “man turns that would have gotten her through any heat, boys’ or girls,’ in the competition.” She followed it up with an 8.0 for a convincing win.
Newp’s, Taylor Thorne and HB’s Derek Peters had a tight battle in the Boys U18 final. Derek opened up with an 8.67 and Taylor answered back with a 9.17. Taylor followed it up with a 6.17 and then upped the ante with an 8.50. Derek battled back with a 7.43, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Taylor’s lead.
Announcer and surf legend Peter Mel did a great job of imploring the local crew to stay out of the line-up. We tried to offer an area for the locals to surf each day and we are super thankful that they cooperated. Pete deputized local rippers Josh Loya and Shawn “Barney” Barron as water-patrol with the payoff of snagging some nuggets that the competitors let go by.
The Kicker crew was there “Living Loud” in the plush Kicker motor coach, serving up hot meals to the judges and making sure the amazing Kicker p.a. system could be heard by the competitors out in the water—no small task when the contest line-up was over a quarter mile long. They also awarded all finalists with insane Kicker ear buds. The top wave scores for Boys and Girls were awarded Kicker “1973” over-the-ear headphones. They went to Jacob Davis for his perfect 10 and Emmy Merrill for her 9.67. PacSun awarded all of the finalist Gift Cards and Gidget gave all the Girls finalist Gidget goody bags stuffed full of cool schwag.—Greg Cruse
Next up is the O’Neill Surfing America Prime presented by Got Milk? at Upper Trestles on February 21 and 22. Watch it live on the webcast at websurflive.com/prime/live.php.
1st – Nic Hdez – Santa Cruz – 15.40
2nd – Colton Overin – San Clemente – 12.06
3rd – Jacob Davis – Capistrano Beach – 11.00
4th – Griffin Colapinto – Capistrano Beach – 9.26
1st – Kulia Doherty – San Clemente – 14.00
2nd – Meah Collins – Costa Mesa – 8.17
3rd – Shelby Detmers – Newport Beach – 7.53
4th – Lulu Erkeneff – Dana Point – 4.57
1st – Nic Hdez – Santa Cruz – 16.76
2nd – Ian Simmons – San Clemente – 10.80
3rd – Scott Weinhardt – Dana Point – 10.36
4th – Andrew Jacobson – Malibu – 9.70
1st – Emmy Merrill – San Clemente – 17.67
2nd – Lani Doherty – San Clemente – 14.50
3rd – Catherine Clark – Ventura – 11.34
4th – Lulu Erkeneff – Dana Point – 10.10
1st – Taylor Thorne – Newport Beach – 17.67
2nd – Derek Peters – Huntington Beach – 16.10
3rd – Nick Fowler – Costa Mesa – 13.17
4th – Britt Galand – Carlsbad – 11.70