Conner Coffin: how's the weather up there?

Pumping surf upped the ante at the 2010 Surfing America USA Championships on Friday and Sunday (Saturday was a lay day) from Lower Trestles in San Clemente, CA.

Top seeds Kolohe “Brother” Andino, Evan Geiselman, Andrew “Droid” Doheny and Conner Coffin dominated their Round 2 Boys U18 heats Friday, taking the lead with big maneuvers right out of the gate and forcing competitors to chase down their high scores.

Conner went so far as to claim his heat as the best he’s ever surfed at Lowers. “When I get a good score early on I can relax and just get a couple of waves,” but he admits that “it’s a roll of the dice for who can win a contest or heat. It’s great to have [guys like Brother, Evan, Droid and Luke Davis] pushing you and it’s fun to see the younger guys step up and do well.”

As Friday progressed, so did the surfing. Round two of the Boys U16 division saw two perfect scores. One from Kolohe Andino, who appears to be on track for a repeat performance-in 2009 he clinched both, the Boys U18 and U16 Surfing America USA Titles-the other from Parker Coffin for his impressive display of technique, variety and strength.

The pair then came head to head on Sunday during the Boys U16 Quarter Finals. They spent the heat battling for first. Ultimately, Parker triumphed; upsetting Kolohe’s streak of first place finishes thus far in the contest.

The action didn’t stop there. The U18 Girls put on an impressive display of athleticism with Lakey Peterson posting the highest heat total of the day on Friday, an 18.4 out of 20 possible points, only to outdo herself with an air reverse for a perfect 10 on Sunday.

2008 Surfing America USA Champ Courtney Conlogue, competing this year for the last time before she ages out, started her Girls U18 Round 2 heat a little behind the bubble, but came back strong to take the win during the final minutes.

“I got stuck in the lull and was sitting a little too far out for the low tide,” said Courtney. “I definitely made a few mistakes, but I won’t be making those in the next heat and hopefully I’ll make the finals.”

Come Sunday any mistakes Courtney had made were a thing of the past as she blasted through her Girls U18 Quarter Final scoring a 9.17 barrel-ride and 9.5 buzzer beater for the win.

Also, surfing well was defending champ Kaleigh Gilchrist. The Girls U18 Title is certainly not going to be won without a fight. “Everyone in this event is your competition,” adds Courtney. :You never want to underestimate anyone; you could be off and they could be having the heat of their life.”

Rounding out Friday afternoon, media and brand teams took to the water for the Annual PacSun Battle of the brands. PacSun’s Battle of the Brands is a fun, industry, team contest in which each of the Surfing America industry brand and media sponsors select surfers to compete on their behalf.

Competitors included Brand Teams from Billabong, Hurley, O’Neill, New Era and Vans. Media Teams represented SURFER, SURFING, Transworld SURF, Fuel TV and Surfline.

Team O’Neill, reigning Battle of the Brands Brand Champion, has won this event every year since its inception three years ago and this year was no exception. However, there was a brief moment after Keanu Asing’s double whammy for team Billabong that O’Neill slipped into second, but it was short-lived.

At the end of the day, O’Neill and SURFING Magazine walked away victorious. For their win, O’Neill gets a special in-store promotion from PacSun. For theirs, SURFING has earned a $10,000 PacSun ad buy.

Bringing Sunday to a stellar close were the groms of the Girls U16 and U14, Boys U14 and U12 divisions. The bombing surf was triple overhead for many of these competitors, but they stepped up to the challenge dropping bombs of their own in pursuit of a 2010 Surfing American USA Championship Title.

Boys U14 Round 2 saw Joshua Moniz pull a 9.5 on his birthday to runaway with the win leaving Kanoa Igarashi and Pat Curren to wrestle for second. With just minutes to go, Kanoa came from behind to advance over Curren.

The 2010 Surfing Amerca Championships concludes tomorrow, Monday June 28. In addition to crowning champions in each of the remaining short board divisions and awarding the California State Parks Governor’s Cup, Monday will also feature the Challenged Athletes division with Ryan Levinson from Challenged Athlete Federation, Patrick Ivison with Life Rolls On, Dana Cummings with Amp Surf and others.

Dane Pioli: surfing backwards

The final day of the 2010 Longboarding Association State Titles kicked off today in tricky three foot (1 metre) surf at Diggers Beach (Coffs Harbour, NSW).

The change in conditions did not affect high scores with excellent performances displayed across all thirteen divisions.

The heat to watch was the blue ribbon, Open Men’s Nine Foot final, which saw three of the four finalists from last year’s titles in the 2010 main event.

Reigning Open Men’s Nine Foot State Title winner and current ASP World Longboard Champion, Harley Ingleby (Coffs Harbour) came out of the blocks fast scoring an excellent 7.00 point ride, but failed to find a backup wave score until the dying stages of the final.

Other surfers in hot pursuit of the title were Tweed Heads ripper, Dane Pioli, Coffs Coast surfer Paul Scholten and Avoca’s Terry Byrne (Central Coast).

The star studded field attacked the final and the result went right down to the final two minutes when Tweed surfer Pioli found the all important back up score required to amass an impressive 15.00 points (7.23 and a 7.77) which narrowely defeated Ingleby’s 13.90 (7.00 and a 6.90), Scholten’s 12.33 and Byrne’s 8.46 combined totals.

“I am over the moon with taking out this year’s state title, the waves were pumping all week and everybody surfed really good,” said Pioli.

“Thanks to all my mates who supported me all the way through to the final, it made this win very memorable,” added Pioli.

Contest Director, Rob Nedwich is thrilled with this year’s event and after a long week of surfing believes the best surfers have qualified from this year’s state titles to represent NSW at the Australian Longboard Titles in late August. Nedwich also thanked everybody for their effortless contributions at this year’s event.

“It has been an awesome week of competition. The swell has been consistent for the whole event and the performance level has lifted this year. I believe the standard of Longboarding in New South Wales is as good as anywhere in the world,” said Nedwich.

“I look forward to sitting down and going over the list of qualifiers who will be representing New South Wales at the Australian Titles in late August.”

“I would like to thank all the members of the NSW Longboarding Association who have volunteered throughout the week and a massive thanks to Surfing NSW who have taken this year’s state titles to the next level,” added Nedwich.

The NSW Longboarding Association’s State Titles attracted over one hundred and fifty entrants from across New South Wales in 2010 and was held in excellent conditions which run from June 20-26 at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.

Finals Champions:

Open 9 Foot – Dane Pioli (Tweed Heads, NSW)
Open Ladies – Nava Young (Angourie, NSW)
Open 8 Foot - Harley Ingleby (Coffs Harbour, NSW)
Over 35 Ladies – Kirsty Webster (Tweed Heads, NSW)
Over 35 men’s – Lee Miller (Byron Bay, NSW)
Over 40 Men’s – Hayden Swan (Yamba, NSW)
Over 45 Men’s – Ray Blackman (Central Coast, NSW)
Over 50 Men’s – Sput Keevers (Byron Bay, NSW)
Over 55 Men’s – Peter Hudson (Port Macquarie, NSW)
Over 60 Men’s – Danny Bond (Central Coast, NSW)
Under 18 Boys – Dylan Hunt (Coffs Harbour, NSW)
Under 18 Girls – Erin Dark (South Coast, NSW)
Cadets – Hugh Daugaard (Central Coast, NSW)

Rafael Velarde: the man and the mountain

The waiting period for the Billabong Pico Alto Invitacional is set for July 12th to August 11th, 2010.

The Pico Alto event will be the second event on this season Big Wave World Tour after the Quiksilver Ceremonial in Chile.

Invited to the event are the top 12 local chargers and the top 12 of the 2009/2010 Big Wave World Tour.

Last year event was held on July 4th and 5th and won by Californian Greg Long in 15 to 18 foot surf on the fame right hander point break.

After a second place finish at the Quiksilver Ceremonial Punta de Lobos in Chile, Peruvian local Gabreil Villaran is heading to the event with great momentum (he also had the Best Wave Award at the Todos Santos Big Wave Event in February 2010) and as one of the favorites.

With all finalists getting points going toward the Big Wave World Tour ranking, the pressure is high on all invitees to do good, impress the judges and reach the final.

A good results by a local surfer at Pico Alto will give him a chance to be part of the ranked top international surfers and be invited to all the events on the Tour for the 2011/2012 season.