80 kids, all under the age of seventeen, grabbed their families and flocked to Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria, CA on Saturday March 10, for the Surf Happens Spring Showdown, a Grom Surf League contest designed for aspiring young surfers
. The event featured Surf Happens’ launch of a new, game changing contest format, where there are no losers in the first round with every surfer competing at least twice.
According to Surf Happens head coach and contest director Chris Keet, “The goal was to create a setting where groms could learn how to compete and improve their surfing, while focusing on why they surf. The fun. Our primary emphasis is on the 12 & under age groups. ”
In addition to the new GSL format, each heat was filmed with footage uploaded onto a computer system in the athlete lounge for instant review. Straight in from their heats, surfers were able to watch all of their waves on a big screen and match it up with the scores that they had received. Surf Happens expert coaches Tarik Khashoggi, Dave Schauber, & Demi Boelsterli, were on hand to mentor how scores were earned, how to improve them, along with coaching tips to take their surfing to the next level. In addition, surfers and parents were taught, basic contest strategies, how the contest system works, judging criteria, and how to tabulate heats.
75 degree weather, sunny skies, and 1-3 foot surf provided idyllic conditions for the kids to showcase their skills. The stand out of the event was 12 year old Sean Woods who scalped victories in three divisions (Gremlins, Boys, & Juniors) ousting surfers up to five years his senior, and winning all six heats that he surfed. His combination of fin free top turns, smooth cutbacks, and aerials is sure to turn heads in the years to come. Another stand out in the main event was Sam Reichel of Gaviota, a powerful young goofy foot who threw caution to the wind with huge floaters and smooth snaps enroute to a second place finish in the Gremlins Main final, and 3rd in the Boys Main final. Also surfing up a division and standing out all event was 9 year old Zane booth who jammed high speed rail turns to nab 2nd place in the Boys Main final, and 6th in the Juniors Main final.
Taking home the Mini Chim (9 and under) title was 8 year old Gavin Eason who displayed smooth style with powerful off the lips and solid rail work to secure the win over 7 year old Nicholas Siemens. Siemens was solid all event long and had the best style in his division. 3rd place was Travis Quittner who threaded a few pocket rides, followed closely by 4th place Max Wadden who posted the best bottom turn. 5th place Cayden Quittner was all heart and smiles. He pulled the drop of the final. 6th and 7th place went to 7 year old twins Hamilton and Curtis Jacobs who charged in their first contest ever, Hamilton getting the best rail grab, and Curtis the best roller coaster.
In the Gremlins Repocharge final Kelly Brewer took the win with radical snaps and
solid off the lips. Brewer initially lost in the first round of the main event and came back focused and determined to surf the way that he free surfs, in the competition. His efforts paid off with a sweep over his buddy Chase Nelson. Not to be outdone, Nelson finished runner up in the Gremlins Repo, and took the win in the Juniors Repo with the floater of the event.
Boys Repo final winner Henry Hepp was living up to his nickname, “The Dominator” finding one of the events only tubes, and landing a huge off the lip to claim the title. Hepp also finished 3rd in the Gremlins main event. 2nd place in the Boys Repo final was Patrick Welsh, who after losing in the main event, second round, received a wild card into the Repo division. Welsh nearly stole the bacon at the end of the final with a free falling off the lip aerial where he got fully covered up by the white water.
The Wahines (Main) final was a repeat of the 2012 Rincon Classic finals with Jesse Ransone taking the win with smooth surfing and a variety of repertoire linked together with finess. 2nd place Abby Brown carved out the best cutback of the final to overtake Poppy Brittingham in 3rd, and Sophie Breathed in 4th. Brown also place 4th in the Boys Repo final.
The Wahines Repo final was won by Olivia Siemens with excellent wave selection and a powerful backside off the lip. Runner up Kailea Hieshima used her patented backside grab rail to negotiate some nice sections and the final was rounded out by Ally James, Cassidy Urbany, and Riley Malmsten.
Once all the action of the 17 and under divisions was finished, the kids got a chance to see local pros do their thing in an exhibition expression session. In fact, they judged the Expression Session under the tutiledge of former ASP world tour judge Dave Schauber.
Adam Lambert took the win with a sizzling frontside air reverse to oust Killian Garland, Mike McCabe, Tarik Khashoggi, Demi Boelsterli, and Kyle Woods.
The Spring Showdown raised $1,625 for Surf Happens Foundations’, Camp Hana Hou, a week long surf camp for local children surviving cancer which will be held June 11-15th. Special thanks to event staff and sponsors, Quiksilver, Roxy, Brittingham Family Foundation, Mad Dogs, J7 surfboards, Teva, Arbor, A-frame Surf Shop, and Deep magazine.
About The Surf Happens GSL Format: Where in the past the lower 50% of competitors in preliminary heats (4-6 place) would be sent packing for home, through the new format they enter into a parallel division called the “repercharge round”, where they get a “second life” and can go all the way to a final just like the main event. In addition, main event surfers who lose in the 2nd round are gifted wildcards into the repercharge division. Younger surfers are also encouraged to surf up division(s) where they will get to surf a minimum of 2 times in each as well.
Similar systems are practiced in the world’s most elite amateur events such as Surfing America/ The USA Surf Team, and the International Surfing Association (ISA). Surfers all start in the main event, and fall into the repercharge round when they lose. The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT), also features non-elimination rounds in the first and fifth round. These systems are all designed to push the limits of surfing, while stimulating progression.
What we are doing is encouraging the highest levels of surfing starting at the very ground level, with kids that are as young as seven years old. The learning curve is greatly enhanced through practice, experience, and performance evaluation. Also, it’s a more fun way to compete because one shocker won’t knock you out of the event.
Mini Chim (9 and under)
Gremlins 10-12 (Main)
Gremlins 10-12 (Repo)
Boys 13-14 (Main)
Boys 13-14 (Repo)
Wahines 17& under (Main)
Wahines 17 & under (Repo)
Juniors 15-17 (Main)
Juniors 15-17 (Repo)
Expression Session (Resident Professionals)
Adam Lambert (air reverse)
Killian Garland (air reverse)
A few of the stoked Wahines, Abby Brown, Jesse Ransone, Sophie Breathed.
Boys Main Event Finalists - L to R Sean Woods, Matt Pierce, Sam Reichel, Call McCarty, Ben Brewer, Zane Booth
Boys repo finalists - L to R Henry Hepp, Patrick Welsh, Abby Brown, Kelly Brewer, Skyler Well, Evan Blix
Chase Nelson floated to 1st place in the Juniors Repo final, and 2nd place in the gremlins repo final
Curtis Jacobs' Game Face
Daisy Love Merrick
Gavin Eason Mini Chim Champion
Gremlins Repo Finalists - L to R Shaemus Ohearn, Nicholas Johanson, Patrick Welsh, Shea Riley, Chase Nelson & Kelly Brewer
Henry Hepp finding the barrel enroute to 1st place in the Boys 13-14 Repo final
Kelly Brewer lip slam. After having a shocker in the first round, Kelly came back with a vengeance to win the Gremlins Repo division
Sean Woods bringing home the bacon
Iron Man Zane Booth
Kyle Woods backside smack
The set up