2004 NSSA Nationals

Sweet dreams are made of this

Who am I to disagree?

Travel the world and the seven seas.

Everybody’s looking for something

—Eurythmics

If you’re one of America’s best young guns at the 2004 NSSA Nationals at Lower Trestles, that “something” would be a National Title. And if you’re among the dozens of surf companies that attend Nationals, you’re looking for the next big thing—the franchise player who will travel the world and the seven seas, hopefully increasing your company’s riches. And there have been quite a few over the years—Tom Curren, Kelly Slater, the brothers Lopez, Hobgood, and Irons, to name just a few. It’s no wonder that the Nationals have evolved into a circus/grom trade show, complete with a multitude of industry tents sprawled across the beach like a Velcro octopus. Not to mention all the food, water, barbecues, foosball, Ping-Pong tables, couches, etc. Fun in the sun. Whatever it takes to attract the best young mosquitoes to their respective company’s flame.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s all fine and dandy, but in reality it all comes down to who does what out in the water. With its cobble-stone point sticking out into the Pacific like a giant magnet, Lowers receives some of the most consistent, quality surf on a daily basis. It could be argued that Lowers is the best spot in the country on any given day—a perfect forum for our youth to stage their liquid debates.

At the top of the scouts’ 2004 draft lists were Pat Gudauskas, Kilian Garland, TJ Baron, Jeremy Johnston, Dylan Graves, Alex Gray, Granger Larsen, Adam Wickwire, Blake Jones, Wesley Toth, John John Florence, Andrew Doheny, Karina Petroni, Erica Hosseini, and Carissa Moore.

Just like at any big event, some old favorites fold and unknowns emerge. Clay Marzo has to be one of the biggest surprises at this year’s Nationals. In his home state of Hawai’i, Marzo is one of the top prospects, but to say that he came into the Nationals favored to win would have been a major overstatement. Not only did he win, he doubled: winning both Explorer Boys and the Open Juniors divisions.

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Open Boys is always one of the best divisions to watch, because no matter how small the surf is, it’s always overhead on these kids. Over the past two years, a nice rivalry has developed between Hawai’i’s John John Florence and Newport Beach’s Andrew Doheny. Florence won in 2003, and Doheny wanted to repay the favor in 2004. Let me tell ya, it was a heavy final! The five-foot sets made these kids look like they were riding Sunset Beach rather than Lower Trestles. Nonetheless, they were ripping. Doheny and Florence tied for the win, but Florence got the edge on a count back. This could develop into one of the best rivalries for years to come.

For the first time in years, the Explorer Juniors final was more stacked than the Open Juniors. A heavyweight battle transpired between all six finalists: Alex Gray, Dylan Graves, Hank Gaskell, Kilian Garland, Nick Rozsa, and TJ Barron—all went toe-to-toe for the entire twenty minutes. And it came down to the very last set at the final horn. Graves emerged victorious from the slugfest to end his amateur career with a national title.

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On the women’s side there were three favorites: 2003 National Champ Erica Hosseini, 2002 National Champ Karina Petroni, and eleven-year-old giant-killer Carissa Moore. Moore’s axe is just too sharp, as she continues to chop down her older competition. Moore pulled a hat trick at this year’s Nationals, winning the Middle School Girls’, Explorer Women’s, and Open Women’s.

With twin brother (2003 World Champ) Pat out of the way, the door was wide open for Dane Gudauskas to shine. The goofy-foot grabbed the reins and dominated the Open Men’s final from start to finish with a powerful backhand attack, putting a brand-new car in the Gudauskas family driveway for the second year in a row.

Ahhhh … sweet drreams are made of this … —Brandy Faber