O’Neill/Lost San Clemente Surf Festival

Surfing Tribes Unite for O’Neill/Lost San Clemente Surf Festival! San Clemente, CA – A vast collection of top professional surfers and legendary surf stars from the continental United States, Hawaii, and Australia celebrated a solid south swell at the O’Neill/Lost San Clemente Surf Festival this past weekend. A common analogy of the surf community is that of being a collection of “tribes”. The O’Neill/Lost San Clemente Surf Festival succeeded in bringing all these tribes to a surf council of sorts. Where else would you find three-time World Champion Tom Curren shaking hands with eighty year old Hawaiian legend Rabbit Kekai? Where else would you find aerial master Rat Boy Collins chatting with Greg Noll? Can you even picture the original Gidget sitting on a bench next to Matt Archbold? Or the Big Kahuna (aka Tubesteak) explaining old Malibu to Chris Ward? You get the idea – this was a pleasantly unusual pane in the mosaic of surfing history! Popular press seems to portray the extended surfing community as a divided mass of warring factions. Nobody gets along all the time.This event opened a ray of hope for a renewed sense of community in the surfing world. Other great surfing world gatherings like the Buffalo Big Board and Rabbit Kekai Costa Rica have paved the way for a new generation of cooperative contests where everyone feels respected as an important part of the whole. The idea that surf competition can be fun rather than “dog eat dog” is making a comeback!

The Surf Festival was divided into three events which ran simultaneously: ASP Specialty (shortboard pros), ASP Longboard (pros), and Legends (famous surfers and personalities from the past). There were also several other events woven in to give everyone a chance to have fun. The LevelRed Concert Series featured top surf, rock, and reggae bands at local venues each night. Greg Noll celebrated the opening of a new surf shop in San Clemente with a legend-studded open house. Then there was the Big Kahunas tribute to Gidget & The Legends of Surfing. The overall event is being webcast by LevelRed. One lengthy streaming video is already available, with several more available by Thursday, August 24. The webcast can be found at: www.levelred.com . All webcast videos of the Surf Festival will be available on the LevelRed web site for at least 30 days after the end of the festival. Multiple television programs featuring the Surf Festival are also being co-produced by LevelRed for international distribution. Network and airing times will be available shortly on the LevelRed web site.

Mother Nature smiled wide on the events! Friday saw grinding 8-10′ face lefts marching down the pier in Hawaii-like 80 degree weather. The weather held as the swell slowly wound down on Saturday and Sunday. Roll the dice! Many an August event in Southern California has been unlucky enough to land between South swells.

ASP Specialty

It’s no secret that San Clemente has spawned a disproportionate array of surf stars. What’s in the water there?! Everyone knew the SC boys would be hard to beat at their home break. They didn’t disappoint the home fans! Local knowledge helps at a moody beackbreak like the San Clemente pier. The smallest tide change can either turn on or turn off the best take off point. The pier is a break where there are steep drops, fast pockets, wall sections, and speed to launch a huge move. Friday had some good size freight train lefts rolling through the pier. Some surfers chose to pull into the shorter, riskier (toward the pier), but rounder rights. Solid tubes, long floaters, vicious snaps. The heat sheets were simply packed with heavy world and local talent! A World Chamion (Curren) and two PSAA/Bud Surf Tour Champions (Dino Andino and Mike Parsons) were included.

Saturday and Sunday saw the waves grow smaller, but the level of surfing was off the Richter Scale. It was no surprise that the Final heat on Sunday featured several San Clemente locals. Try this for a Final heat list: Chris Ward, Gavin Beschen, Noah Budroe, Matt Archbold, Christian Fletcher, and Jeff Hurley (the only non-San Clemente surfer). The boys had a free for all, with Wardo squeeking out the win.

Also surfing solidly were Akila Aipa, Dino Andino, Mike Cruickshank, Tom Curren, Jeff Deffenbaugh, Donavon Frankenreiter, Davey Boy Gonsalves, Jim Hogan, Mike Parsons, Rat Boy Collins, and Benji Severson.

ASP Longboard

Longboard surfing contrasts so nicely with shortboard surfing! The ASP Longboard surfers showed a synthesis of old style and new approach. It was nothing to see someone finish a deep barrel or long floater with a drop-knee cutback and a noseride. The crowd loved it! If shortboard surfing is heavy metal, longboard surfing is Flamenco guitar. Stylish aggression mixed with casual finesse. The caliber of surfing was almost scary! Semi Final number one featured current ASP Longboard World Champion Colin McPhillips and former ASP Longboard World Champions Rusty Keaulana and Dino Miranda. All in one heat! Colin won the heat and ended up winning the Final also.

The huge gallery of fans strung out down the pier was an eclectic mix of locals, tourists, and Hawaiians. No hassles, just a perfect view down upon deep tube rides and pure-style nose rides. San Clemente will never be the same! The locals are used to seeing great surfing, but the bar has been raised now! Beau Young, the son of former ASP World Longboard Champion Nat Young, showed some of his fathers grace and power to place well in the Final. Also surfing insanely were Cody Simpkins, Josh Froley, and Josh Baxter.


Even though it didn’t start out to be an “Expression Session”, where no winners were declared, the event ended up that way. To his credit and the approval of all the surfers, Event Promoter and former pro surfer Bob Clark at some point decided that declaring places in the competition just was not fitting to the great spirit of the event. The “final” heat found twelve stoked legendary surfers stroking into every wave that could be found – sometimes several dropping in on the same wave! Logjam at San Clemente. The oldest surfer was legendary Rabbit Kekai who is eighty years young. While others of his generation are reflecting from rocking chairs on “the good old days”, Rabbit’s attitude is that “Today is one of tomorrow’s good old days”!

The Legend heats were a clinic in fine style. The body doesn’t cooperate as well as it used to, but experience is the equalizer. Surfing with grace and style were Kemp Aaberg, Ben Aipa, Jackie Baxter, Don Craig, Rich Chew, Dale Dobson, Herbie Fletcher, David Nuuhiwa and Mike Purpus. On the beach smiling were such characters as Greg Noll, Tubesteak, Gidget, and Sonny Vardeman. Former World Champion Peter Townend also checked out the action.


Many said it couldn’t be pulled off: all generations of surfers mixing at the same event. They were wrong! The surfing community boasts so many intricate parts: tatooed aerialists, balding Gen X’ers, wrinkled cruisers. A love for the ocean and a committment to be out there is the common thread. The tribe closed ranks at San Clemente. It’s all about mutual respect…

Next year should be even better!

Presenting Sponsors for the event were: LevelRed, KROQ, Surfing Magazine, MacPherson Chevrolet, Key Club, and The Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar.

Sponsors for the LevelRed Concert Series were: Foster’s Lager, KROQ, Key Club, and Planet X Television

Industry-level Sponsors were: Greg Noll Oceanwear, Rick’s Tropicana Bar & Grill, Local Motion, AstroDeck, Sonny’s Pizza, Coach House, Holiday Inn, Hennessey’s Tavern, Manastash, The Toll Roads, Surfrider Foundation, Surf Photos by Grannis, San Clemente Surf Company, John Mairs Designs, Killer Dana Surf Shop, World Core, Rocky’s Surf City, Hogan Surfboards, Noah Budroe Shapes, Costa Mesa Speedway, Terry Senate Surfboards, McElroy Surfboards, South Coast Distributing, Rick James Surfboards, Tim Patterson Surfboards, Dewey Weber Surfboards, KO Fiber Glassing, and Dana Point Fisheries
Enhancement Program.

Event T-Shirts and posters are available. Contact Bob Clark for details at (949)370-8568. Portion of proceeds will be donated to environmental cause to be determined.

Heat Summaries

ASP Shortboard Specialty

1) Chris Ward (San Clemente)
2) Gavin Beschen (San Clemente)
3) Noah Budroe (San Clemente)
4) Matt Archbold (San Clemente)
5) Christian Fletcher (San Clemente)
6) Jeff Hurley (Newport Beach)

ASP Longboard

1) Colin McPhillips (San Clemente) (*reigning ASP World Champion)
2) Cody Simpkins
3) Beau Young (Australia)
4) Josh Froley

Legends Longboard

In keeping with longboard tradition the Legends Longboard competition was structured as an “Expression Session” where twelve surfers were sent out at the same time to surf for twenty minutes. Among the notables were Rabbit Kekai (Hawaii), Ben Aipa (Hawaii), Don Craig (San Clemente), Dale Dobson (Cardiff), and Denny Aaberg (Santa Barbara).

JR Longboard

1) Travis Carey
2) Tom Witt
3) Brendon Clark
4) Mitchell Lombard
5) Rocky Brute
6) Tyson Poplar

JR Shortboard

1) Tanner Gadaskis
2) Pat Gadaskis
3) Dane Gadaskis
4) Brendon Clark
5) Dave Lovato

For further information, Contact: Bob Clark, Bob Clark Surfing Productions, cell (949)370-8568. or Steve Gibby, cell (619)571-6726. Video frame grab images for web use are available from: steve@teamlevelred.com