by John Hinkle
In what some have called the “best contest surf in 30 years”, over 300 competitors enjoyed solid four to six foot waves at the Malibu Surfing Association Classic Invitational, Sept. 5-7 at Surfrider Beach, Malibu.
For three straight days, surfers representing clubs from the East Coast, Hawaii, Australia, Mexico, Japan and West Coast teams from San Diego to Santa Cruz competed at the Coalition of Surfing Clubs most prestigious event and the highlight of the annual club circuit.
The third installment of the Malibu Noseriding Championship sponsored by Matix, Foam Symmetry, and Tyler Surfboards, kicked off the event on Friday with some of the top men and women loggers vying for clocked time on the nose. Solid six-foot sets and a medium high tide hampered the early round heats but as the tide moved out, First Point offered up a perfect canvas for double-digit time. First round standouts included CJ Nelson, JJ Wessells; juniors Trae Candy and Nathan Strom; and veterans Vince Felix, Zander Hartman, Mick Rodgers and Akimoto Shohei. The field of 52 whittled down to the four finalists with Taylor Jenson taking top honors with a 57.38 time followed by Troy Mothershead, 38.63; Jerry Swearingen, 32.14 and Matthew Pasamonte in fourth.
Also on Friday, MSA was proud to present the second annual Women’s Logger Open sponsored by Aviator Nation. The only all women logging event in California provided a platform for a field of 24 elite level surfers competing in four-person 20 minute heats judged on traditional single-fin longboards. Hawaiian Honolua Blomfield captured first place; Malibu local, Frankie Seely finished second followed by Erin “Worm” Ashley and Lindsay Steinriede.
Day two saw the larger sets drop to perfect head high consistent waves as the MSA Classic coalition event began with early round standouts Sean Oppenheimer, Devon Howard, Ben Samuel and Joe Rickabaugh moving through on the men’s side while Makala Smith, Jen Smith and Rachael Graham scored on the women’s divisions.
Malibu Surfing Association’s named charity partner, SURFAID, shared the day offering up the third annual SURFAID CUP utilizing the unique, team-based ‘surf tag’ format where surfing champions and legends are paired with teams competing against each other raising over $127,000 in support of their humanitarian programs. Team Firewire finished first, with team Malaria Free Mentawai second, followed by Dave’s Team Too in third.
Daybreak on day three of the competition revealed even more consistent shoulder to head high waves as the contest moved in the semi-finals and final rounds providing the contestants with waves peeling for 300 yards from deep off the point on through past the judges scaffolding. Early morning near perfect two-wave combo scores by men’s division Chad Marshall, with a 19.27, and junior men’s Jesse Hinkle, with a 18.56, set the tone for the comp finals.
Mid afternoon presented some of the best logging finals witnessed in decades with many of the divisions’ top four spots separated by three points, or just fractions separating first and fourth place. All in attendance gathered on the beach to watch perhaps “the best final ever”, Men’s 30-39 Division.
First Point Malibu lit up offering what seemed like a 20 minute set as Joel Tudor, CJ Nelson, Australia’s Matt Cuddhy, East Coaster, Mikey Melchiorre, JP Garcia and Jeff Belzer traded continuous wave after wave in a spectacular exhibition of world class logging with Tudor finishing first.
With the final scores tallied, WindanSea Surf Club took top honors, Hawai’i Longboard Association second; Oceanside Longboard Surfing Club third and host, Malibu Surfing Association, in fourth.