Simmons, Christian Win At The Vans Off The Wall Pro

Journeyman pro RyanSimmons moved a step closer to his goal of securing a spot on next year’sWCT Top 44, and Julia Christian continued her dominance of women’s prosurfing in California to take home first prize, a check and a new board atthe Vans Off the Wall Pro at San Clemente Pier, the third stop on the 2001Professional Surfing Tour of America (PSTA).

Simmons made his desire known immediately in the final by taking the firstwave, a short left, and ending it with a reverse 360 spin that impressedthejudges enough for a 6.0 score. From then on he never looked back. MikeTodd,arguably surfing faster than anyone in Southern California at that moment,started with a big frontside floater-wheelie, but it unfortunately also setthe tone for the San Clemente local–short, spectacular moves on shortwaves, many of them closing out. San Clemente native Benji Severson, whosneaked past Dean Randazzo to advance from the semi-finals, opened with astrong left, popping a series of floaters and snaps to score an 8.0. ButSeverson all but disappeared by the final’s mid-way point, which sufferedfrom an extended lull. Jason Senn, another local favorite with his cheeringsection positioned on the pier, busted some explosive vertical snaps butalso was denied one big wave thanks to the lull.

Simmons’ win gave him welcome momentum heading into the busy WQS summerseason–he was ranked 30th coming into the Vans contest and just missed aspot on this year’s elite Top 44. “It’s my second pro win and I’m lookingatit as if it was a four star or six star,” said the 27-year-old from SealBeach who has enjoyed little of the media limelight despite his strongcompetitive record. “There was heavy competition out there today, and itwasmy goal to win this event. I had some tough breaks this year. I hadpneumonia in Brazil in February, and then I got 11 stitches in the back ofmy calf in Australia and I was out for four weeks. Then I came home and hada two-month body rash due to that, I think. There were some setbacks, butI’m surfing strong now and there’s a lot of year left on the ‘QS. I have agood result at the beginning of the year, a semi-final result in Brazil.This will obviously give me a ton of confidence.”

Simmons attributed his first wave and the 360 reverse move with setting thepace in the final. “My scores were building as I progressed toward thefinal, and I knew that an air or a reverse or something crazy would perkthejudges’ interest, so I went for it. I got a six on a small wave that I onlydid two turns on, and that’s always a good thing. Once I got the six I knewI just needed some open-face waves and let my backhand take care of itself.I’m pretty good with math, and I knew what Benji Severson needed to passme.And Mike Todd needed a 6.1 I think. I kept my eyes on everything and I’mpretty aware of things going on, I’ve been competing my whole life. But itdid get scary near the end.”

To say Julia Christian is on a roll is an understatement–her 2001 WQSrecord heading into Vans was two firsts, a second and a fourth–althoughthere were a few anxious moments for the Carlsbad native heading into thefinal. A moist computer kept the results of her semifinal heat in doubt forseveral minutes, but her polished repertoire of solid maneuvers resulted ina win in the semis and placed her as the firm favorite in the final againstfriendly nemesis Holly Beck, Nicole Grodesky of San Clemente by way ofFlorida, and Moss Landing’s Dianna Mattison, who impressed the crowd withanaggressive display of wave selection and solid moves.

Waves were plentiful during the Women’s final, with lead changes happeningevery few minutes as all four surfers went toe to toe in the clean, glassyconditions. But it was Christian’s wave selection that allowed her to milkthree long lefts with a staccato series of maneuvers resulting in scores of7.5, 7.0 and 6.0 that boosted her past Beck, Grodesky and Mattison, all ofwhom busted some big snaps and floaters that no doubt elevated the state ofwomen’s pro surfing in California up several notches.

“It was hard out there today, trying to figure out which wave would wallandwhich would line up,” said Christian. “In the semi I just wasn’t on, but Ifinally clicked at the end. I found the sweet spot on the board and thingsstarted to click for me.”

The morning began with the 15 & Under division under balmy skies. Surfconditions were dumpy because of the low tide, but that didn’t deter thegroms from pulling off some adult-like maneuvers. An early standout wasChris Satterfield from Kauai, Hawaii, who’s also competing in the NSSANationals next week. Satterfield has been surfing since age 8 and listsBruce Irons as his inspiration because “he has a mean style.”

The conditions quickly improved by the start of Men’s quarterfinals #1. Inashocking upset, ASP veterans Shane Beschen and Mike Parsons failed toadvance under the speed racing onslaught of Dana Point’s Mike Todd. Todd’slight-speed left gained him a 9.5 early in the heat, and his widespread,lowcenter-of-gravity style was perfectly suited to the quick, wedgy lefts.Withtime running out, darkhorse Jeremy Sherwin of Encinitas picked off a longleft next to the pier that Beschen could have blocked, but failed to do so,allowing Sherwin to score a 7.25 and tie Beschen for 2nd place. Sherwin wonon a countback since his highest scoring wave was lower than Beschen’shighest. Dean Randazzo’s strong backside attack prevailed easily in Quarter#2 over Benji Severson, Bron Heussenstamm and Greg Long. Also advancing tothe semis were Ryan Simmons, Jason Senn, David Pinto and Max Hoshino.

In the Men’s Semi #1, Severson opened up with a strong left scoring 6.25,then Todd quickly answered back with a 6.50. Randazzo didn’t hit his strideuntil his third score, a 5.2, then got into the race with a 7.25. Sherwin,the darkhorse, never found the one high-scoring wave to push him through.Meanwhile, Todd continued his hot streak, throwing huge fans on both rightsand lefts. A big move by Benji near the end of the heat boosted him overRandazzo to advance by a tenth of a point. “I just tried to relax at theend,” said Severson. “I’m at home right now, it’s summer, all my friendsarehere, I told my parents to come down for the finals. Anytime you start aheat strong, it sets the tone for you. I knew I had a good wave so I justwanted to relax. There’s sets coming in, it’s fun out there. I actuallypassed up a few pretty good wavesS thank god I got that last one!”

Semi #2 was the same story, the surfers with the first two good scores wenton to win the heat. Ryan Simmons opened with a 7.75, followed by Senn witha4.35. The pre-med student Max Hoshino put up a valiant effort, catching atotal of nine waves. But it wasn’t good enough against Simmons’ solid7.75-7.25-6.75 effort, and Senn’s two magnificent backside bashes on thebiggest wave of the heat, giving him a 9.75 and a lock on second place.

The Women’s Shortboard semis provided few surprises, although a soggycomputer kept Heat 1 contestants from knowing the outcome for several tenseminutes. Moss Landing’s Mattison put on a stellar performance of floatersand snaps, but it was the favorite, Julie Christian, who came out on top.InSemi #2, Holly Beck was the clear winner thanks to aggressive paddling andahigh wave count, with fellow goofy-footer Nicole Grodesky taking advantageof the long lefts off the pier.

Winning the 15 & Under division in convincing fashion was Julian Mullins ofOcean Beach, Calif., who is also competing in the NSSA championships beingheld this week at Trestles.

The PSTA season continues with the Rip Curl Pro at Newport Beach, afour-star rated WQS event scheduled for Sept. 4-9.Vans Off the Wall Pro, final day results
Women’s Shortboard Quarterfinal
Heat 1
1. Julia Christian 12.75
2. Dianna Mattison 10.50
3. Angie Conti 9.90
4. Marni Wahlquist 5.50
Heat 2
1. Jamie Gee 14.35
2. Kyle Langen 12.60
3. Jodie Nelson 12.55
4. Liz Motshagen 10.85
Heat 3
1. Holly Beck 10.25
2. Jessica Aswald 8.75
3. Kim M
ayer 8.50
4. Lisbeth Diaz 8.10
Heat 4
1. Amber Puha 18.50
2. Nicole Grodesky 11.00
3. Colleen Hanley 8.50
4. Erin Edwards 4.25
Men’s Shortboard Quarterfinal
Heat 1
1. Mike Todd 22.40
2. Jeremy Sherwin 17.25
3. Shane Beschen 17.25
4. Mike Parsons 11.75
Heat 2
1. Dean Randazzo 20.60
2. Benji Severson 14.40
3. Bron Heussenstamm 13.95
4. Greg Long 11.65
Heat 3
1. Ryan Simmons 16.45
2. Jason Senn 13.85
3. Matt King 13.65
4. Haley Yerhgans 12.75
Heat 4
1. Dave Pinto 15.75
2. Max Hoshino 13.50
3. Shawn Sutton 13.40
4. Jeremy Ryan 13.35
Women’s Shortboard Semifinal
Heat 1
1. Julia Christian 15.00
2. Dianna Mattison 13.50
3. Jamie Gee 12.10
4. Kyle Langen 11.00
Heat 2
1. Holly Beck 16.35
2. Nicole Grodesky 14.25
3. Amber Puha 13.85
4. Jessica Aswald 8.20
Men’s Shortboard Semifinal
Heat 1
1. Mike Todd 18.75
2. Benji Severson 17.45
3. Dean Randazzo 17.35
4. Jeremy Sherwin 12.85
Heat 2
1. Ryan Simmons 21.75
2. Jason Senn 20.60
3. Max Hoshino 17.60
4. David Pinto 14.10
Women’s Shortboard Final
1. Julia Christian 20.25 ($1000)
2. Holly Beck 18.50 ($500)
3. Nicole Grodesky 13.60 ($300)
4. Dianna Mattison 11.85 ($250)
Men’s Shortboard Final
1. Ryan Simmons 20.00 ($2500)
2. Mike Todd 19.10 ($1000)
3. Benji Severson 18.80 ($800)
4. Jason Senn 16.65 ($700)
15 & Under Final
1. Julian Mullins 17.00
2. Chad Compton 13.50
3. Chris Waring 11.00
4. Morgan Falkner 10.65