It was a little unnerving setting up the contest site at Church on Friday and watching meager 1 foot waves dribble through. When school was out, many of the Prime kids came down to practice for the event and were noticeably bummed at the lack of surf. But Surfline was forecasting a southern hemi swell for Saturday and by dusk on Friday a few shoulder high forerunners were making a showing. Saturday morning was better still and as the day wore on the waves got better and better, making for absolutely epic conditions for the finals.
This is the only Prime done in two areas in one day, and of course, I was out with a crazy allergic reaction to who knows what, but our fantastic Beach Marshall Andrea Swayne kept everything and everyone on track. Announcer Micah Byrne managed to keep up with the play-by-play and let everyone in the water know what they needed to do to advance. BeachByte computer scoring managed the mayhem flawlessly and our two panels of ASP judges got it right all day. PacSun USA Surf Team Coach Ian "Kanga" Cairns was on hand all day coaching the kids and even managed some time to go out and get a few waves himself. The level of surfing was amazing and the stakes are even higher this year as everyone is battling for an invite to the Surfing America USA Championships at Lower Trestles in June.
In the Girls U16 division, Harley Taich missed the first Prime because of a trip to Tavarua, but she made her debut this season showing off some new moves in her repertoire and that she means business. She surfed her way to final and a respectable 4th place finish. Melina Smith made her second final of the season. She had scores of 12.40 in the first round and 11.00 in the second round but couldn't get the two good scores she needed in the final and took 3rd. Frankie Harrer, fresh off the plane from Hawaii, scored a two-wave total of 8.6 to take 2nd to new San Clemente resident Kulia Doherty who was on point and won all her heats on the way to her 1st place.
In Girls U18 last year's champion Courtney Conlogue was off to Brazil for a Women's WQS event try to take advantage of her win at the Hurley US Open of Surfing and get a jump in the ratings and a poll position for next year's WQS race. That left the field wide open for a tight final that separated 1st from 4th by only 1.2 points. Lani Doherty had a blistering semi-final heat and carried that momentum into the final but fell just short of PacSun USA Team member Taylor Pitz, who edged her out for 3rd. PacSun USA Surf Team members Lakey Peterson and Jasset Umbel (visiting from Florida) had an epic battle in the semi-final with Lakey taking the win, but in the final Jasset edged out Lakey in an exciting high scoring wave fest that went to the final horn with Lakey scoring the high wave score for the girls for the day (8.67), but it was not enough to overtake Jasset's 6.33 and 8.00.
In Boys U14 the pride of Santa Cruz, Nic Hdez, had a flaming hot first round heat with a 9.17 wave and 17.17 heat total. He also won his semi-final but wasn't able to find waves with enough scoring potential to do better than 4th in the final. Colton Overin managed a combined wave score of 10.40 for 3rd. This final turned out to be a battle between man-child Jake Davis and last year's season champion Kanoa Igarashi. Kanoa opened with an 8.00 and Davis answered back with a 5.50 and a 7.67. Igarashi found the wave he needed and managed to score a 5.33 for the win by .17.
In Boys U16, Kolohe Andino made his first Prime appearance of the season and showed us that he hasn't slowed down a bit since his dazzling double win in Boys U16 and U18 at the Surfing America USA Championships. He handily won every heat on the way to the final and put the cherry on top with a blistering demonstration of the kind of aggressive, carving surfing Coach Kanga is looking for to take gold at the ISA World Juniors in New Zealand in January. Kolohe also won the Milktastical Maneuver award with a carving 360 that blew everyone's mind.
Rounding out the heat was fellow PacSun USA Team member Colin Moran in 2nd, Texas Gulf Surfing Association transplant, Ian Simmons, with his second final showing in this super competitive division (someone sponsor this kid), took 3rd, and Jacob Halstead in 4th.
The Boys U18 final capped off the day with a battle royal that could have been the final of any Pro Junior event. JD Lewis made his second Prime final and this time it was against PacSun USA Surf Team members Andrew Doheny, Luke Davis, and Kolohe Andino, who were all absent in his last visit to the finals at DMJs. JD hung in there with scores of 6.6 and 4.97, never giving up and building his score throughout the heat. But it was 8s or lates in the final with a tight seesaw battle ending with 'Droid' Doheny in 3rd with a 14.74 two wave total, Luke Davis in 2nd with 14.84, and Brother Andino taking home all the cheese with a 15.86 heat total. Total haul for Andino: one first place Boys U16 trophy, one first place Boys U18 trophy, one gold framed black velvet Milktastical Maneuver Award and the $100 check that goes with it, and two $100 PacSun Gift Cards. Not a bad days work!—Greg Cruse
1 Kulia Doherty 10.33
2 Frankie Harrer 8.74
3 Melina Smith 6.46
4 Harley Taich 6.26
1 Jasset Umbel 14.33
2 Lakey Peterson 14.17
3 Taylor Pitz 13.67
4 Lani Doherty 13.13
1 Kanoa Igarashi 13.33
2 Jacob Davis 13.17
3 Colton Overin 10.40
4 Nic Hdez 9.97
1 Kolohe Andino 16.93
2 Colin Moran 10.70
3 Ian Simmons 9.27
4 Jacob Halstead 8.13
1 Kolohe Andino 15.86
2 Luke Davis 14.84
3 Andrew Doheny 14.74
4 JD Lewis 11.57
Full results are available at websurflive.com/prime/index.php.
Next up is Ditch Plains, Montauk, NY, October 24 and 25, for the inaugural Surfing America Prime East and in the West, Santa Cruz in January, dates TBD.
Surfing America Prime presented by Got Milk? is proud to be sponsored by the California Milk Processor Board, PacSun, Billabong, Hurley, Rip Curl, O'Neill, NewEra, Quiksilver, Surfer, Surfing, TransWorld SURF, Surfline, Fuel TV, and Sticky Bumps.