Surf Asylum Alumni at the Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic

I wrote this post at the beginning of the summer, as surf camp was about to get under way, expressing how excited I was about our All Girls Surf Camps and what I hoped I would be able to share with our students beyond the fundamentals of surfing, namely, confidence, joy and gratitude. In my wildest imagination I would have never been able to imagine seeing that come to fruition as it did this past Saturday when nine Surf Asylum alumni and eight other Fernandina Beach surf sisters took to the water at the 17th Annual Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic.

My cheeks still ache from all the smiling, my lungs are still tired from all the cheering and my heart is forever expanded from watching this group of girls develop (or deepen) a relationship with the ocean and come together in sisterhood through surfing. It was incredibly rewarding to be on hand as each of them went into the water and delivered their personal best. While I am super proud of all of their results, I was blown away by how much they gave of themselves in the spirit of competition. I watched each girl push the boundaries of their personal best and couldn’t be happier in the effort displayed.

Surf Asylum is proud to present the alumni who competed in the 17th Annual Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic:

Lani: Lani is just adorable. At four years old, Lani was by far the youngest competitor of the event, competing in White Water Riders Age 12 Under. If Lani’s mom, Joy Anderson’s performance (3rd place in Sage Sisters Shortboard, 3rd place in Stand Up Paddleboard) is any indication, Lani will find herself in the finals sooner than later.

Sofia M.: Sofia came to surf camp, stood up and took the first wave of her life all the way to the beach. She has now been surfing for less than four months and is already paddling into her own waves in the right conditions. This was Sofia’s first contest and I was so proud of her for entering. She got some great rides and should be so proud of how far she has come in such a short amount of time. Sofia also has some pretty sweet dance moves she likes to bust out after a good ride.

Maili: Maili has been surfing for a few years, but is still only 10 years old and is completely independent in the water. She caught all of her own waves and made some very critical drops in her heat. Also a competitive swimmer, Maili’s upper body strength allows her to catch waves with ease while her leg strength allows her to execute nice bottom turns. Maili is a great role model for girls who are just getting into surfing.

Ella: At surf camp this year Ella asked me who the best surfer was and I replied, “the one having the most fun!” She then quipped back to me, “then I’m the best surfer!” Ella really stepped up in the competition getting third place in her round one heat, moving her into the quarterfinals. Competition was pretty fierce in the quarters and even though she didn’t make it through, Ella was definitely giving 110%.

Ivy: Ivy is another camper who has been surfing less than four months, but already has her own longboard and can often be seen out surfing with her mom. SOS was also her first contest. She placed second in round one taking everyone of her waves all the way to the sand. She also got the single best wave of her quarterfinal heat, but ran out of time before she could find a back up wave. Look out for Ivy when she is paddling for a wave, she’s also one of the top competitive swimmers in her age group in NE Florida.

Malia: While she had never surfed before either, Malia told us the first day we met her that she had watched several surf movies to get ready for camp. She must be a visual learner because three days later she was catching her own waves and working on a bottom turn. This allowed her to skip the beginners stage of riding whitewater to the beach and sent her straight into riding the open of face of the wave. Pretty impressive for a first generation surfer with no previous experience! Malia earned herself a third place in round one and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Sofia B.: What a summer for Sofia! Sofia had a little surf experience when we first met her but was nervous because of a bad wipe out experience. This summer’s small surf was perfect for putting that behind her. Sofia has come from almost not standing up until she hit the sand to popping up fast, making steep drops and shifting her weight around to speed up and slow down as necessary. This was a lethal combination in competition, letting her catch waves further out than her competitors and taking them all the way to the beach. It also led her to first place in her round one heat, first place in her quarterfinal heat and fifth overall in White Water Riders 12 and Under. Way to go Sofia the Brave!

Kaia: At only eight years old, Kaia already has a few years of surf experience and is impressing everyone by surfing independently, catching most of her own waves and taking steep drops with control. She has a super smooth style, combined with a lot of strength and has the potential to take her surfing wherever she wants. She made quick work of her competition in her round one heat of the Keiki’s 9 and under division, placing second and earning herself a spot in the finals. She continued pushing herself, catching her own waves, navigating critical sections and working them all the way to the beach and ended up fifth overall. Great job Kaia!

Mikaela: Mikaela has three things going for her that I find fairly unique to her young age of seven. She is incredibly strong, almost fearless and has a really mature read on the wave. This allows her to surf waves, sometimes well over her head, with composure and style. She took third in her round one heat of the Keiki’s 9 and under division, impressing the judges with a backside rail grab down the face of an overhead wave where she almost found herself under the lip of a closeout tube. She solidified a third place spot in the finals by paddling into her own waves, pumping down the line and working it all the way to the sand. She’s got two more years in the division and I can’t wait to see her and Kaia at this event next year. If they keep at it, one of them is going to walk away with first place.

Way to go girls! I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. Go ahead and mark your calendars, the 18th Annual Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic has been scheduled for September 17th, 2016.

ESA Southeast Regional Surfing Championships

Last weekend Surf Asylum had the privilege of traveling down to Melbourne, FL to see the current level of amateur competitive surfing in Florida. We wanted a benchmark, something to aspire to as we teach a new generation of surfers. Friday we got to see an in form Freida Zamba riding a quad and executing precision backhand snaps, carves, and foam climbs in somewhat weak choppy surf. She was coaching Rachel Presti, one of the event’s standout performers, on wave reading and selection. The surf picked up for Saturday and Sunday with Pete Mendia and Shea Lopez joining the line-up with the kids who will soon be following in their footsteps. Below are images from the weekend and video of the final two days of competition:

Rod Logan’s power surfing distanced him from competitors half his age and younger in his first Open Shortboard heat.

Kaleb Kirshenbaum surfed with remarkable precision in the Menehune division.

Competitors in the Girls and Junior Womens divisions had a great read on the somewhat mushy waves.

Several  Menehune (11 & under) competitors exhibited polished, mature style.

Kaleb Kirshenbaum showing commitment.

Kelton Beardall was spending a lot of time in the water in the lead up to the event and it showed. (We didn’t get his 9 point air reverse off of a wave that looked like a giant close out on film).

It took a couple tries in his heats but Charlie Current nailed this one and rode out clean.

Nick Groshell was getting a lot of extension out of his turns while managing stay over his board and complete his waves.

Freida Zamba’s protege Rachel Presti linking turns like a pro.

Autumn Cockrill showing solid, traditional rail work.

Lily Whatley spending plenty of time on the nose in the Junior Womens Longboard Final.

Ryan Conklin pulling off one of the steeper noserides in competiton.

Video of Saturday and Sunday:

Relatable Round 2 at Snapper

Round 2 of the Snapper Rocks WSL event in Queensland, Australia ran in dismal surf by “Dream Tour” standards but I’d venture to say it was halfway decent surf by Florida standards. Especially during those times of the year when we’re craving anything remotely rideable. If you’ve followed Snapper throughout the years they often have to resort to running on days with buoy readings comparable to some of our own here in Florida, like 3 ft. at 8 seconds. However, this year takes the cake for the most relatable conditions I’ve ever seen the top 34 have to contend with.

The competitors had to really want to win and channel every bit of imagination they had to see scores in some of the waves they were paddling for. You could tell that Ace Buchan wasn’t really feeling it. The surfers that felt the most at home in the conditions were the Brazilians. Owen Wright showed up for the bigger surfers on tour as well as Mick and Taj for the usual suspects. Filipe Toledo levitated over sections, showing us why everyone on tour is afraid to draw him when it’s small. The slugfest that was Round 2 Heat 7 between Kolohe Andino and Jeremy Flores was a clinic in applying power and rail work to mediocre waves.

I was captivated. Take a 2 turn combination (since we still don’t realistically see that length of ride here in Florida) from any 5 point ride or better from Round 2 of the 2015 Snapper Rocks contest and study it. It’s a perfect example of where to wait on the wave, when to compress, how to lead with your shoulders, etc.. for applying the next time our surf is waist to stomach high. Hopefully this Saturday (2/14) or Sunday (2/15).

Heat Analyzer for the 2015 WSL Snapper Rocks Pro

Volcom Pipe Pro

Banzai Pipeline, Photo Courtesy of WikiCommons

A female longboarder from Florida,  who can get stoked on knee high surf and delights over stomach high mushy waves, might surprise you when she admits to being a passionate fan of professional surfing (where the Men’s shortboard tour gets most of the attention), but here I am. I watch the entire WCT tour from Snapper to Pipeline, cheering for my favorites and cursing judges who don’t agree with me.  Even a dedicated fan will admit that some waves are certainly more breathtaking than others and only breaks like Cloudbreak or Teahupoo could rival Pipeline in magnificence, which makes the Volcom Pipe Pro, though not a WCT contest, one of my favorite contest to watch online.

The waiting period for the Pipe Pro starts today and runs through February 8th. The contest begins with 112 “Warriors”, fighting it out  for the $100k purse, 3,000 QS points to start the year and  a spot in the Pipe Invitational(trials for the Pipe Masters). Hawaiians not on tour and wanting to compete at Pipeline during the Triple Crown, must finish in the Top 16 of this event.

The contest roster boasts almost five dozen Hawaiian surfers, including  WCT stand out John John Florence and 2015 tour rookie Keanu Asing. Other well known names include former World Champ Sunny Garcia,  2003 Pipeline Pro champ Jamie O’Brien and 2015 Da Hui Backdoor Shootout winner Mason Ho.

Florida has it’s own notable representation for the contest with 2014 Pipe Pro Champ (and 11 x World Champ, 8 x Pipe Master Champ, King of Surfing, etc.) Kelly Slater returning alongside C.J. and Damien Hobgood and Evan Geiselman.

Hawaiian time is five hours behind us on the East Coast, with the event kicking off live at 7:30 a.m. HST, 12:30 EST.

Volcom Pipe Pro- Live



Acknowledging Limitations

Mick Fanning didn’t win the world title in question during this Tracks interview from last December. Since it was Gabriel Medina’s to lose I don’t think that reflects much on Mick’s talent or performance. What struck me in particular about this article is the open admission that there are things other surfers do better. You don’t often get to read such clear evidence that being the best requires one to honestly assess their weaknessess or limitations. Mick’s coach is quick to point out that Mick can sideslip into the barrel if that’s what is required but I looked up the definition of “au fait” and realized that he was pretty clearly indicating that John John and Kelly have an advantage when it comes to the “freefall late drop” at Pipe. This discussion seems to to stem directly from the performances of these athletes at the 2013 Pipe Masters which you can watch at the links below. Another thing I like about this interview is hearing that Mick uses immediate video feedback in his training to see what’s working and what isn’t, which is refreshing given the statements about Mick knowing how he wants to surf and what kind of surfing he wants to be known for.

One of Mick’s “classic roll-in lefts”:

John John’s recap of his 2013 Pipemasters run (plenty of freefall sideslipping):

The concept of the best surfers knowing their limitations was also on display for me in October of 2014 when I went to see Thundercloud at Sun-ray Cinema. The film gives a little historical background on Cloudbreak in Fiji and then goes into depth about 3 epic days in 3 consecutive years (2010, 2011, and 2012). The movie is long but a must see for dedicated surf fans. The same wave will often be shown 2 or 3 times while the surfers who were out on those epic days talk story. The waves showcased in the film are often at the limit of paddle surfing and don’t lose their visual impact on the third time around, especially when you’re hearing what it was like directly from the surfers riding them. Near the end of the film Dave Wassel and Kelly are considering giving it a go after commentating most of the day for a webcast that went live despite the official WCT event being called off. As Wassel tells it a set comes through like none other that day leaving Kelly content to have a beer and watch while Wassel paddles one of the biggest boards ridden that day into one of the scariest waves of the day. You can watch his wave below but the film puts it in context with the unridden set prior that allowed the theater audience to almost feel why some waves go unridden.

Dave Wassel’s 2012 set wave at Cloudbreak (XXL contender):