GOLDENWEST ST., HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — National Surf League (NSL) Results — Led by MVP Mike Hoisington’s fourth quarter heroics, Orange County defeated San Diego to win the inaugural 2004 California Cup Championship held on Saturday, May 29 at Goldenwest Street in Huntington Beach. Trailing by a mere three points heading into the final quarter, San Diego was unable to withstand a blistering assault from their archrivals and fell by 11.25 points, 177 to 165.75. Conditions were challenging, with peaky four to five foot waves with occasional overhead sets.
Surf industry powerhouse brands Hurley, Quiksilver, Billabong and O’Neill were instrumental in making the drama-filled California Cup Series a reality and supported the first-ever NSL Championship Game along with official sponsors Surfer Magazine, Surfing Magazine and Surfline. Highlights of the month long journey featuring teams from Santa Cruz, Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties will air on ESPN2 on July 22 and 23 at 11:00 p.m. and July 25 at 10:00 p.m.
Fueled by a rivalry dating back to 2002 when SD defeated OC at the NSL’s debut in Cardiff, Calif., the veteran San Diego squad hoped history would repeat itself. With home break advantage on its side, Orange County surprisingly opted to start the game as the tide continued to drop. OC’s Nate Yeomans exploded with a series of power carves and two solid, best wave scores of a 7.0 and 6.25 in posting a quarter-best 13.25 total. Brett Simpson and Chris Ward also produced strong scores as Simpson’s speed maneuvers and Ward’s big vertical turns helped lead their team to a 45.75 first quarter score.
The San Diego crew, led by former World Tour stars Rob Machado and Dean Randazzo, kept pace by scoring an identical 45.75 points. Che Stang would score an 8.5 ride on a solid six-foot wave with several huge backside snaps. Randazzo followed with a 7.5 while Zach Keenan notched a 7.0. SD coaches then called a timeout midway through the quarter during a lull. SD failed to capitalize fully, however, as Jeremy Heit struggled with a broken surfboard. Randazzo would tie the score with two flawless floaters and a calculated roundhouse maneuver.
OC started the second quarter with errors by Mike Todd and Mike Losness. The SD bench cheered raucously as a tall yellow chicken mascot, clad in an Orange County shirt, ran to the OC dugout. It re-emerged unscathed in the form of the infamous San Diego surfer, Benji Weatherley, displaying the bright yellow SD jersey underneath. Head coach Mike Parsons, straight faced and unaffected by the SD chicken, repositioned and calmed his team. Losness responded with a mammoth frontside air for a score of 6.25 (12.75 total). Mike Todd also bounced back with two smooth cutbacks while maintaining speed for a 7.25 (12.25 total). OC duplicated their first quarter score with a 45.75.
SD’s superstar goofy footer, Rob Machado, led the group of Austin Ware, Kyle Knox and Jason Bennett. Machado had a slow start with two falls, as the waves became increasingly more violent and punchy. He would find his groove as a huge set approached and would score an 8.5 with three huge turns on a sectioned left. San Diego kept the momentum going, with a score of 42.25, falling behind OC by only 3.5 points.
Wave conditions were sporadic in the third quarter with each team using all three timeouts. OC’s Simpson started the heat with a counter clockwise bottom snap on a mid-size wave and would go on to post his team’s highest quarter score (10.25). The door was left wide open for San Diego as Orange County only posted a 34.75 total. Needing only a 38.25 third quarter score to tie OC, Stang and Keenan were able to score 10.5 and 10.25 totals respectively, but missed wave opportunities plagued SD as it could only muster a 35.25.
With no timeouts remaining for either team, the pressure and drama boiled down to the final quarter. HHoisington nailed a gigantic floater over a closing section followed by a huge snap then another stunning vertical lip snap leading to a quarter high 15.75 points. Losness and Timmy Reyes also responded with exceptional surfing under the tense circumstances, each producing double digit-plus efforts to lead the OC team to a tremendous quarter score of 50.75.
San Diego needed a miracle quarter of 53.75 just to tie OC. Anything was possible but OC’s original strategy of starting first may have contributed to San Diego’s downfall due to poor wave conditions. Machado was able to post a 12.25-combined score, but the group as a whole struggled. A lull made each minute painful as the group waited for high scoring wave opportunities. It was clear that OC had defeated San Diego before the final buzzer, as a sea of OC fans cheered for their home team. San Diego scored a 42.5 in the fourth quarter, amounting to only 165.75 to OC’s dominant 177.
Former pro Brad Gerlach conceived the National Surf League’s revolutionary team vs. team format. “The California Cup Championship was a fitting conclusion to the NSL’s inaugural season, said Gerr. “Launching a new league was a daunting task. We couldn’t have made it happen without the support of the surfers and Hurley, Quiksilver, Billabong and O’Neill.
National Surf League Awards:
9th Man Award: Ryan Simmons, OC
Rookie of the Year: Brett Simpson, OC
MVP of the Year: Timmy Reyes, OC
Most Radical Maneuver of the Year: Timmy Curran, VC (Frontside Air Reverse)
MVP of Game: Mike Hoisington, OC
Most Radical Maneuver of Game: Mike Losness, OC (Frontside Air)