*photos Dan Coyro, Santa Cruz Sentinel
Win or lose - all competitors take home valuable lessons and experience
Santa Cruz, Calif. (January 13, 2019) – More than 100 of the best under 18 surfers from across the nation found plenty of challenge and opportunity in this weekend’s Toyota USA Surfing Prime Series presented by Got Milk? at Santa Cruz’s Steamer Lane. A powerful winter storm delivered 5-to-10-foot waves that crashed and churned through “The Lane’s” rocky, cold cliff faces. “At times just getting in the lineup was an act of courage,” said USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse. "These are the kinds of experiences and conditions that prepare surfers for the WSL Qualifying Series and beyond."
Making and winning heats this weekend required smart wave selection, strength and balance to perform maneuvers on fast, bumpy wave faces. The highest heat total for boys went to San Clemente’s Taj Lindblad who scored an 8.33 and 7.33 for a 15.66 total. Oceanside’s Caitlin Simmers had a 13.4 heat total with waves that scored an 8.5 and 4.9. See full results below.
Santa Cruz native and USA Surfing’s 2020 Olympic coach Chris Gallagher Stone “Gally” called Steamer Lane “one of the most high-performance waves in the world.” Gally won back-to-back Cold Water Classics in 1999 and 2000, is a former WSL Championship Tour surfer and has coached some of the world’s best, including 5th-ranked Jordy Smith, World Champion C.J. and Damien Hobgood, Taylor Knox and Josh Kerr.
“It is so rare for a powerful reef wave to be that close to shore. The gnarly conditions require surfers to decipher the lineup and harness the waves’ power and rawness. The winning waves have a very specific look and can be hard to find without experience,” Gallagher-Stone said. “Victors at the Lane need a combination of skill, guts, fitness, knowledge, great equipment and some luck to put it all together. Congrats to all the winners and finalists. You earned it!!”
Growing up surfing in Santa Cruz, Gally said he has many memories competing at the Lane – “from victories to embarrassing tumbles down the cliffs. They’re all lessons. It’s such an amazing venue for competitors and spectators alike.”
Results are as follows:
1st Caitlin Simmers, Oceanside, Calif.
2nd Tiare Thompson, La Jolla, Calif.
3rd Keanna Miller, Santa Cruz, Calif.
4th Maddie Garlough, Port Aransas, Texas
1st Taro Watanabe, Malibu, Calif.
2nd William Tex Mitchell, Oceanside, Calif.
3rd Jett Schilling, San Clemente, Calif.
4th Kai McPhillips, San Clemente, Calif.
1st Ella McCaffray, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif.
2nd Caitlin Simmers, Oceanside, Calif.
3rd Makena Burke, Ventura, Calif.
4th Bella Kenworthy, Dana Point, Calif.
1st Taj Lindblad, San Clemente, Calif.
2nd Jo Jo Whelan, Costa Mesa, Calif.
3rd Nicholas Coli, San Clemente, Calif.
4th Jett Schilling, San Clemente, Calif.
1st Luke Wyler, San Clemente, Calif.
2nd Dane Matson, San Clemente, Calif.
3rd Cole McCaffray, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif.
4th Jake Chandler, Pacific Palisades, Calif
The invite-only Prime Series is a bi-coastal competition among under 18 surfers who placed highest in regional competitions held by USA Surfing’s affiliate organizations – the Western Surfing Association, Eastern Surfing Association, National Scholastic Surfing Association, Hawaiian Surfing Association and Texas Gulf Surfing Association. Participation and wins at each Prime Series event earns points that cumulatively determine national rankings and a chance to compete at national championships and gain a spot on USA Surfing’s national teams.
Competitors were treated to some big names and elite-level experience running the event. WSL analyst and big wave surfer Pete Mel announced the final heats. Local legends Darryl “Flea” Virostko and Anthony “Ruffo” were on water patrol. Top WSL priority judge Tim Manno oversaw a panel of seasoned judges.
USA Surfing’s Prime Series was created to bridge the gap young surfers experience when working to make the leap to next-level competition opportunities, including a position on the USA Surfing national teams, the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series, the WSL Championship Tour and the Olympic Games. The Prime Series provides surfers with a competitive experience similar to WSL pro events with professional WSL/ISA judges and announcers, four-person heats using priority, and computer scoring.
Several current WSL pro surfers honed their competitive skills through USA Surfing’s Prime Series, including 2nd-ranked Lakey Peterson, No. 6 Caroline Marks, 2018 US Open champions Courtney Conlogue and Kanoa Igarashi, No. 7 Conner Coffin, Kolohe Andino, and Griffin Colapinto.
The Got Milk Prime Series continues in venues across the country including:
The series culminates with USA Surfing Championships in June – the pinnacle competition with 250 of the nation’s top surfers competing for national titles and spots on the USA Surfing team at one of the world’s best surf breaks – Lower Trestles.
Contact: becky (at) usasurfing (dot) org; 302-588-0671
USA Surfing is the National Governing Body for surfing in the United States, recognized by the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). USA Surfing’s mission is to promote and grow the sport of surfing and support United States athletes of all backgrounds to achieve sustained competitive excellence in Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American competition. USA Surfing will oversee and support America’s Olympic team as surfing makes its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and surfing and stand-up paddleboarding athletes compete in the 2019 Pan American Games.
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