THE 2003 NSSA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: DAY SIX

posted by / News / June 27, 2003

Surf: 2- to 3-feet, fair conditions and dropping
Rounds Held: Open Juniors Rounds One and Two; Open Men, Round Two, Quarterfinals, and Repercharge; Open Boys, Round One and Quarterfinals.
Nature’s Call: What’d you think it was — the Dream Tour?
Predicted: Smaller waves, bigger drama.

HEAT OF THE DAY:
The word “heat” rarely applies when describing today’s action. With a gray haze hovering over Lowers and smaller, fewer waves finding the point, the level of competition cooled significantly, as if the performances peaked with the prior days’ surf. Sure, there were spicy moments here and there — Dane Reynolds and Pat Gudauskas’ Open Men’s fins-out quarterfinal exchange, for example — but despite a volatile concentration of names, there was never enough friction to spark the type of blazing six-man battles that often define Nationals. In short, today’s surfing soap opera was big on mellow and light on drama. However, the first Open Men’s quarterfinal did feature a plot twist or two. Brian Toth and Andrew Gahan opened up with back-to-back backside attacks, sheeting fans on a pair of medium-sized rights, with Andrew’s slightly larger lump earning the nod, and the lead. Inspired, Toth took to both sides of the peak, and then took the top spot for almost the whole heat. Then, with five minutes left, Open Men’s title defender Dustin Cuizon picked off a prize set wave and began hacking it to pieces with a series of deliberate, Dahmer-esque gouges, severing off an eight-point score and a final’s berth for the bloodthirsty Hawaiian.

PERFORMER OF THE DAY:
You had to hand it to the Hawaiians. Besides Cuizon’s Trestles chainsaw massacre and some smoother lacerations from Open Men’s finalist Kekoa Balcaso, the Boys Quarterfinals were an Aloha State sweep as Thomas Clarke, John John Florence and Granger Larsen manhandled their heats to steal half of tomorrow’s final slots. But it was Larson’s Round One performance that set the standard with two rides that served up a plate lunch of different flavors – drifting top turns, layback cutties, fierce floaters — to earn a 10 and a 9, respectively, for a 19-point total — the highest heat score of the event so far. SHOCKERS:
“D’oh!” Brett Simpson was surely borrowing his cousin Homer’s trademark phrase as he bowed out in Round Two of the Open Men’s, the victim of both a lack of waves — and a lack of aggression to grab the few that came through — leaving what some have called our country’s most gifted amateur missing one important prize: a national title. ,p> And file this under mathematical impossibilities: Wesley Larson and Mason Ho will face each other in a 10-minute, best-wave-wins surf off tomorrow morning after tying each other exactly in the Open Juniors — four waves each, four tied scores. QUOTABLES: “He looked like he was surfing in Beyond Blazing Boards. It made me happy.” Peter King on Granger Larsen’s timeless star power. – Matt Walker

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