June 13, 2008: – – The ten greatest Nationals moments of all time? Let’s start with 1991… Leaving everyone on the beach in a state of amazement, Rob Machado pulled off one of the first-known completed aerial rotations in the amateur ranks at the National Championships held at Oceanside Pier. This would trigger a whole new generation of new-school moves as young NSSA surfers followed in Rob’s footsteps of pushing it beyond conventional norms.
1992 – The NSSA entered a new era when the annual National Championships was moved to Lower Trestles. Bryan Doonan won the Open Men’s and Hawaii’s young rising star Kalani Robb won the Open Juniors. Bryan went on to become a successful MD specializing in Orthopedic Surgery. Two years later, Kalani qualified for the ASP World Tour. The Nationals evolved into the nation’s highest profile amateur spectacle and the surf world’s most credible crystal ball. To this day, the Nationals continue to set an incredibly high benchmark in performance standards for America’s young surfers.
1993 – 15 year-old Kalani Robb surfed flawlessly throughout the National Championships, pulling off the unthinkable by winning both the Open Juniors and Open Men’s divisions.
1994 – Kalani Robb ruled the Nationals again winning back-to-back Open Men’s titles, still to this day, an unmatched achievement in NSSA history. Kalani’s performances at the National Championships brought on a new level of celebrity and respect bestowed upon a National Champion, while a giant leap of spirited competitiveness began in Hawaii.
Consider this: prior to Kalani’s double Open victory in 1993, a total of five surfers from Hawaii had won at the Nationals. From 1993 forward, the Hawaiians proceeded to become the dominating force collecting a total of 111 National titles in the last 15 years.
1995 – When you think of the greatest Nationals legend of the 90’s you think of Bobby Martinez. Lower Trestles became his stage. In 1994 at 12-years-old, he claimed his first title in the Explorer Menehuene division, but it was the following year where his incredible surfing level earned him three titles in the Open Boys, Explorer Boys and Explorer Menehuene. Bobby’s Nationals accomplishments quickly launched him into super grom status. He went on to win seven titles, which still remains the most championship triumphs of any male surfer.
1996 – After a frustrating runner-up showing in the Open Men’s in 1995, Andy Irons returned in 1996 with a vengeance stomping the field in both the Open Men’s and Explorer Juniors divisions. All eyes were on the water when he paddled out as he annihilated heat after heat en route to his two-title sweep.
His power and explosive moves were beyond your normal 17-year-old. Nobody came close to the monster performance he put on that week. He turned pro after his Nationals triumph and quickly stamped himself as a new force in professional surfing. It took him only one year from his NSSA graduation to make the ASP World Tour.
2004 and 2005 – Guts to Glory. Nearly eight months after a shark ripped off her left arm just below the shoulder, Bethany Hamilton donned the NSSA jersey at the 2004 National Championships and delivered an awe-inspiring performance making the Open Women’s final where she placed fifth. She returned a year later and won the Explorer Women’s final by a near 4-point margin in one of the most remarkable and unforgettable performances at the National Championships.
2005 – Clay Marzo stole the show in the National Open Men’s final earning two perfect 10 wave scores and became the youngest surfer (15 years, 11 months and 8 days) in NSSA history to win the Open Men’s crown. Clay’s two 10’s will permanently be burned into the memories of the people on the beach who witnessed it. It was the first time any surfer recorded a perfect heat in the National Open Men’s final.
2006 – In what has to be the one of the mosst unique and exciting moments in the National Interscholastic Championships team competition, defending champs San Clemente and Ventura High School finished in a 93-93 dead tie for the High School title and were forced into a first-ever overtime situation.
With 15 minutes on the clock, a sudden death surf-off was held between Ventura’s Cory Arrambide, Spencer Regan and Mike McCabe and San Clemente’s Tanner Gudauskas, Trevor Saunders and Jeff Lukasik. Although a valiant effort was put forth by the Ventura squad in the dramatic showdown, San Clemente was not to be dethroned winning it in overtime 103-102. It was the heart and soul of that San Clemente team that delivered them their eighth career and fifth straight National title.
2004-2007 – In June of 2004, two months shy of her 12th birthday, Carissa Moore began her astounding and unparalleled run. At 11-years-old, she became the youngest surfer to win the Open Women’s division at the National Championships and the younger of only two surfers to ever achieve the NSSA “Triple Crown” with victories in all three National Championship categories (Open Womens, Explorer Womens, and the Middle School Girls division of the National Interscholastic Championships).
The following year and still a pre-teen, 12-year-old Carissa took command again winning her second “Triple Crown.” In 2006, Carissa captured her third consecutive “Triple Crown” bringing her title count up to nine and shattering the all-time National wins record formerly held by Bobby Martinez (7). One year later, the Hawaiian phenom not only raised the bar, she removed it winning the Open and Explorer Women’s and collecting her 10th and 11th National titles-the greatest achievement thus far in the NSSA.