Getting onto Camp Pendleton is no easy task. Our photographer Jack English was denied entry on Saturday and I was denied entry on Sunday, relegated to watching the webcast from home. But what better place than Del Mar Jetties with minor south swell in the water to get this year’s Surfing America Prime Series going?
The theme for the event at DMJs on Camp Pendleton was double-time, taking cues from the Marines themselves. The finals were littered with the same names across different divisions—Kulia Doherty, Taylor Clark, and Kanoa Igarashi all did double duty and put themselves in two finals apiece. Kulia ended up taking out the Girls U16 title, 13-year-old Taylor appeared in the U16 and U18 final and racked in three of the five highest waves of the whole event (Parker Coffin said this about Taylor: “He must have found some type of mystery flavored Red Bull that makes you surf like a goofy Fanning. I was tripping.”), while Kanoa continued where he left off last season by grabbing the Boys U14 title.
Another PacSun USA Team member who continued exactly where they left off last season was Lakey Peterson. From her first heat on Saturday morning she seemed poised to continue her domination of the Girls U18 division, winning all three of her heats. She continues to rein queen of this division at only 15 by getting the best waves and her knack for drawing speed where others bog. Plus throwing up an air reverse in the final doesn’t hurt (though she just came unstuck and couldn’t ride out of it).
Two of the other finalists in the Girls U18 division were the Doherty sisters, Kulia and Lani. Originally from Maui they relocated to San Clemente last year to have opportunities like the Surfing America Prime Series to improve their surfing, and boy has it shown. These two are prime examples of what this series is doing for amateur American surfing. As Boys U16 victor Parker Coffin notes, “It’s important to do well in these events when Kanga [USA Head Coach Ian Cairns] is there watching. The whole team selection really focuses on these Prime events, so hopefully getting some results in these contests that the selection people focus on makes them focus on you.”
And the Coffin sibling duo of Parker and Conner had everyone watching them on Sunday. Parker’s victory did not come easy, as he defeated Kanoa Igarashi by just .27 of a point. Since I couldn’t get on base I’ll let Parker give you a rundown of the final: “It was a super nerve wracking final. I couldn’t get a good one to save my life and Kanoa was blowing tail on knee high waves. As he went to go sit on Taylor, I went the opposite way and somehow got a good left and just surfed it as best I could. Got the score and then went and sat on Kanoa the whole rest of the heat.”
Brother Conner wasn’t about to let Parker be the only Coffin coming home with a victory though. “Right as I was running out for my final Parker got a really good wave and went into the lead so he definitely got me psyched to surf my heat. I think we always do a good job of getting each other motivated to surf.” Conner had been unleashing on every single wave he caught this weekend at DMJs. His powerful, tail-high attack matched the bowly rights and lefts to a tee. With Luke Davis injuring his knee in the first round and having to call it quits and Kolohe Andino mysteriously absent, the Boys U18 division was wide open for Conner. Here’s his rundown of the final: “I started off the final kind of slow. The waves were pretty junky and I farmed two pretty decent waves at the beginning of the heat that could have been good scores. Luckily there were lots of waves in the heat and I was able to get a 7 something. I was in the lead for a while, but Derek got a good wave and went back into the lead. Right as I heard his score this little nugget came right to me. I finally found my legs and surfed the wave without flailing. It was enough to take the lead and then the waves went flat for the rest of the heat.”
The first Surfing America Prime event of the season is now in the books. Check out websurflive.com/prime/index.php for the season’s full schedule and standings. And as the hosts for this event would say, “Hoo-rah!”—Ryan Brower
Head to the next page for the full results and the rest of the photos.