The U.S. Amateur Championships in Oceanside

“Never Tired” Ted Navarro And The U.S. Amateur Championships in Oceanside

New contest format makes him surf ten heats in one day.

This year Ted Navarro decided he would enter two divisions at the United States Amateur Championships. As a spectator, it wasn’t hard to notice the same face making the same walk from the tent to the jetty, heat after heat, for a total of ten on the final day. Try to surf ten heats in a day and see how you feel after just three. He also won both the men’s and open men’s (new for this year) divisions.

Thanks to a new man-on-man double-elimination format, anyone who made the semi’s got a second chance, and surfing in two different divisions didn’t hinder Navarro in any way. Between heats he just kept taking naps and drinking water in his truck. “I’m amped. It’s a good wave, it’s fun, I surf here a lot,” said Navarro of nearby San Clemente.

The eight-man final format worked, and it seemed to please a lot competitors in the boys’, juniors’, men’s, and open men’s divisions it was used for. “This is a surfing contest; we want to judge them competitors on their surfing abilities – not on who can hassle who,” said Paul West, the newly elected executive director of the USSF. “Let’s see surfing, and let’s give them the opportunity to show their stuff. This format really does it.”

In the last few years the U.S. Amateur Championships have been fighting a stigma: If you’re a top amateur and you want coverage and good waves, which event would you want to qualify for? The highly coveted NSSA Nationals held at Lowers or the antiquated follow-up known U.S. Amateurs in Oceanside. This year the people behind the USSF finally realized it and now want to make the contest the number one amateur event in the world.

Jack Shipley came from Hawai'i to judge the event and couldn’t agree more: “The neat thing about double elimination is you get a chance to kind of see what it’s like if you’re going to be a pro. It takes a lot more time for the contest to do that. But that’s the single best thing the USSF offers the competitors. I think this thing is pretty cool. It has four-man heats all the way to the semi’s. I think the double eliminations are a great call by the organization.”

Hawai'ian Dustin Cuizon won two divisions at the NSSA Nationals and was well on his way to winning the boys’ division in Oceanside until he was run over during a photo shoot at Lowers. After receiving stitches on his foot and missing his semi, he also came down with a slight case of pnuemonia. He’ll be back.

Even without him, the boys’ division was deep: “The kids nowadays are incredible,” says Shipley. “I think you can notice in the boys. The boys are almost better than the juniors. It’s not just here, but in Hawai'i and everywhere.”

Without Cuizon, the door was left open, and when the format weeded its way through the boys’ division, it came down to a final man-on-man between Floridian Eric Taylor and Hawai'ian Kekoa Bacalso. Both surfers dueled it out, even receiving a double interference at one point. “It’s really consistent; you just have to pick your waves,” said Taylor, who ended up second to Bacalso.

Hawai'ians also dominated the younger divisions. T.J. Barron and Hank Gaskell dominated their four-man final. Both surfers threw very un-menehune maneuvers all the way to the beach, with Barron getting the nod – a sign the domination will continue for the future.

Rainos Hayes, head coach for HIC, had to watch as teamriders Nalu Law and Joel Centeio went against each other in a juniors’ division semi, with Centeio eventually winning. Said Hayes, “I gave them both what they needed to bring out the best that they could for their personal performances, which is all I couldd ask of them.”

As a Hawai'ian National Team Coach, Hayes is watching as his surfers grow: “They definitely blow me away with the quality of surfing that they’re doing. I think I’m really fortunate, because I have a lot of kids who work well together. They help to push each other, and there’s a lot of camaraderie amongst the team. That makes a huge difference when everyone is pulling for each other.”

After winning the overall title for Hawai'i, the young group looks poised to dominate a new format and a new location for next year. The 40th anniversary of the Championships are to be held on O'ahu next year. Look for a lot of tearful surfers as they step on planes back to the mainland.

– Aaron Checkwood

The results of the U.S. Championships held at the North Jetty of Oceanside Harbor in July.


Junior Women

1. Kelly Hutchison ESA

2. Jennifer Rowlette ESA

3. Sunshine Makarow WR

4. Abby Haney WR


1. Sena SeramurHASA

2. Jamie DewittESA

3. Lindsey BaldwinESA

4. Kyla LangenWR


1. T.J. BarronHASA

2. Hank GaskillHASA

3. Brad BurdickWR

4. Gavin GilletteHASA


1. Kekoa BacalsoHASA

2. Eric TaylorESA

3. Travis MellemWR

4. Mikey MitchellHASA

5. Jordy BroughHASA

6. Jimmy HerrickWR

7. Bud FreitasWR

8. Josh MontgomeryCSUS

Junior Men

1. Joel CenteioHASA

2. Nic GalatiWR

3. Nalu LawHASA

4. Ryan CagleTGSA

5. Danny FullerHASA

6. Cody WalshHASA

7. Austin WareCSUS

8. Phillip WatersESA


1. Ted NavarroWR

2. Travis HoshimotoHASA

3. J.B. EnglerthTGSA

4. Lee McCoughinESA

5. Jerry BurdineESA

6. Justin SchubESA

7. Peter BerkeyWR

8. Geoff DalySCSA


1. Ted NavarroWR

2. Matt GilliganESA

3. Peter BerkeyWR

4. Golden DepesaWR

5. Jerry BurdineESA

6. Nalu LawHASA

7. Scott ShimodaHASA

8. Jason BillingsWR