Day Three Of The NSSA Nationals At Lower Trestles
Lower Trestles just keeps on working its magic. At three to four feet, it just a tad bit smaller than yesterday, but still absolutely incredible. No, really, really fun. It was also foggy at first, but the fog blew away and the sun glared on all the spectators who came out to see their favorite surfers rip.
In fact, when it comes to the NSSA, today was kind of like a blast from the past. Around midday, former NSSA superstars such as Rob Machado, Pat O'Connell, Jeff Deffenbaugh, Tim Reyes, Geoff Moysa, and Hagan Kelly took to the water for an expression session. To the delight of the hundreds of spectators, everyone snaked each other and ripped as well.
Today was the last day of the Explorer (non-student) division's preliminary heats, and the finals are all set for Saturday. In the boys, the finalists are Clay Marzo, Kellen Ellison, Torrey Meister, Casey Brown (who got a 9.75 in his semi), Cory Arrambide, and Tanner Gudauskas. For the men, it's Nathan Carroll, Andrew Gahan, the manly Josh Montgomery, Tyler Anderson, Nathan King, and Zander Morton. The menehune division will feature Tyler Newton, Thomas "T-Grom" Clarke, Dege O'Connell, Andrew Doheny, Granger Larson, and Albee Layer. And finally, we couldn't forget the women—a battle between Bethany Hamilton, Lilia Boemer, Anastasia Ashley, Karina Petroni, Connie Arias, and Leilani Gryde.
Last year, both the open division women and Explorer women came down to a battle between Karina Petroni and Leilani Gryde. Both are back, and both rip. In fact, contrary to what you might see on current television shows featuring girl surfers, the women in these divisions are damn good—and they just keep getting better and better.
Gryde is a sixteen year old from the Kona side of the big island of Hawai'i. Sponsored by Billabong, Local Motion, Gallaz, and Freestyle, she's slowly getting the traveling and competitive experience needed so she can eventually qualify for the big tour. Last year she won the Explorer and placed second to Petroni in the open. At the Turtle Bay women's WQS last December she made it to the round before quarters and went to Australia soon after. With little travel experience, she ventured down under all on her own to sample some of the goods the Gold Coast had to offer.
During Nationals she's being coached—more like punished—with the rest of the team by Billabong's Hawai'i Team Manager Rik Iaconetti. "Rik makes us stretch every morning and do crunches," said Gryde. She knows she has to work 'cause the competition's getting that much better. "I definitely think it is," she declared. "Karina's definitely the best girl right now. There's so many good girls right now. The competition's so good, we're all gonna be there (on the big tour) soon."
There're a lot of famous names from the Big Island such as Shane Dorian, Ross Williams, Conan Hayes, and Keala Kennelly. They're all her favorites she says, "I just surf with them and watch them surf." If you want to see Leilani and all of the other NSSA wave killers, you still have two days—get down to Trestles.—AC