Surfing America Prime presented by Got Milk?
Ponce Inlet, Daytona Beach, FL
February 18 & 19, 2012
Words and photos by Jack McDaniel/Surfing America
The forecast was not promising for Ponce Inlet, with a mix of weak surf and eighty percent chance of rain. The Surfing America crew landed Friday and started to set up the Prime event site at Florida's Ponce Inlet. Thanks to the help of parents, judges and competitors, the scaffolding was up and ready to go quickly on Friday.
Saturday's pre-qualifying heats ran quickly and efficiently in challenging, but better than expected surf. The small size favored the younger, smaller groms. Some of the older surfers had trouble finding enough power to get any momentum going; we saw a couple major upsets including one of the USA Surf Team members not moving on.
One of those "scary at the time – laugh about it later" moments came in the Boys Under 14 qualifying heat. A couple of the groms were sure they had seen a shark in the line-up and paddled almost all the way in to shore before being assured by their parents and by the eagle-eyed spotter that it was indeed merely a dolphin. We spoke with little Tommy Coleman and Chauncey Robinson about it in an impromptu interview that can be seen on the Surfing America site (www.surfingamerica.org).
We scrambled all day on Saturday to try to get as much of the competition done as possible. The ominous forecast of absolutely flat surf and almost certain thunderstorms for Sunday morning created a definite sense of urgency. It was a long day, but we got through all but the Boys U18 semi finals and all the finals. Those would have to wait until Sunday morning
We woke Sunday to a partly cloudy sky and light winds. We were pretty stoked on the drive down the white sand beach to find even better surf than the day before. The sun also started to peek out from behind some clouds.
The contest started with the Boys Under 18's semi in very contestable surf. Jacksonville's Jake McGuire totally capitalized on that and started boosting off lips with pop shove-its and air-reverses that not only got him through the semis but took him to the top of the finals.
Jackson, New Jersey's, Jessica Kwiezinski, saw the same opportunity and carved her way to a win in the Girls Under 18 final.
In the Boys Under 16 final, Tristan Thompson followed his older brother's winning ways (Cody and Evan) by taking the win. I overheard his mom saying he was debating whether to even come out on Sunday as he'd also heard it was going to be rainy and flat. Tristan obviously made the right decision in heading out.
Taking advantage of the bump in size from Saturday in the Girls Under 16 was Georgetown, South Carolina's Emory McClary. With nice slashes off the top and even a short barrel ride, Emory took top honors for her age group.
The Boys Under 14 saw the very last remnants of any waves we'd have for the event. The timing couldn't have been better. We were finishing just before the wind really started to howl. This final became a Luke vs. Luke battle. South Carolina's Luke Gordon, with his buttery smooth style, against Melbourne Beach local Luke Marks and his insane hits off the top. In the end, it was a combination of tail blows and sick laybacks that won Luke Gordon the first place trophy.
Other standouts on the day were Cobie Gitner, Daniel Glenn (who had just flown in from Puerto Rico solely to do the comp), Rossi Klein, Jazmine Dean and Luke Marks who were all double finalists. Surfing America would like to give a HUGE "Thank You" to all the competitors, parents, event staff, ASP judges – oh, and we can NOT forget to mention the awesome Travis Ajay who's announcing kept us chuckling throughout the competition. His knowledge of all the kids and hilarious, yet totally appropriate, humor is unbeatable. Rick Anthony who came all the way down from "New Yawk" to help with, not only the set up, but also did an awesome job as Beach Marshall.
The stoke, friendliness and appreciation shown by the East Coast competitors and crew made all the effort worth it. We'll be back for the Surfing America Prime, Nags Head, NC, on May 19 & 20, 2012.
Boys U18 1. Jake McGuire - Jacksonville Beach FL 2. Cobie Gitner - Ponce Inlet FL 3. Daniel Glenn - New Smyrna FL 4. Noah Schweizer – New Smyrna Beach, FL
Girls U18 1. Jessica Kwiezinski - Jackson NJ 2. Rossi Klein - Summerfield FL 3. Nikki Viesins - Indialantic FL 4. Jazmine Dean - St. Augustine FL
Boys U16 1. Tristan Thompson - Jacksonville FL 2. Coby Gittner - Ponce Inlet FL 3. Daniel Glenn - New Smyrna FL 4. Luke Marks - Melbourne Beach FL
Girls U16 1. Emory McClary - Georgetown SC 2. Rossi Klein - Summerfield FL 3. Katy Gordon - Pawleys Island SC 4. Jazmine Dean - St. Augustine FL
Boys U14 1. Luke Gordon – Pawleys Island SC 2. Luke Marks - Melbourne Beach FL 3. Stevie Pittman - Newport NC 4. Chris O’Donnell - Fort Pierce FL