CHECKMATE

posted by / News / September 14, 2004

For as artistic as surfing is supposed to be, surf contests are still essentially, competitions, as clearly demonstrated by the O’Neill Belmar Pro. The start of the contest resembled a boxing match. Like heavyweights slugging it out our surfers in the early rounds made hairy airdrops, and then swung giant haymakers at the thick lips. As the surf dropped, and became cleaner, the above-the-lip athletics looked more like a gymnastics meet. And, as the surf dropped to unsightly dribble for the final, it became a chess match.Don’t ever play chess against Bryan Hewitson. He’ll watch your moves, he’ll study the board, and Whack!

As the only decent wave of the final jumped off the south jetty, Hewey was in position, made the backside drop, and accelerated off the bottom. He tore the top off the wave, sending pawns, bishops, and rooks spraying in all directions.

Checkmate.

After seeing waves for three days of competition, and hosting over {{{200}}} surfers, Belmar was still very contestable on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the unprecedented gift certificate from mother nature expired by mid day, as the surf dropped to an inconsistent two to three foot with a southeast sea breeze. Hence, the early afternoon chess match between Michel Flores, of Brazil, Nathan Carroll, of Hawaii, Dean Randazzo, of Somers Point, New Jersey, and Hewy, of Indialantic, Florida (considering hair styles, perhaps billiards is a more appropriate analogy.)

Even if the surf for the final was less-than-phenomenal, WQS surfers from around the world, are becoming increasingly aware of the East Coast late-summer potential. Maybe landing in Newark Airport, sucking in the scent of industry and hopping on the Garden State Parkway to surf the season will never be the right of passage that Honolulu Airport, hibiscus, and the Kam Highway are, but the Right Coast has become a must-see for many serious ‘QS rippers.

The remnants of Hurricane Frances, which rolled inland, up the East Coast all week, interacted with an offshore high to suck some swell up the coast for Thursday. The morning slop turned into raging four to six-foot, sideshore bombers by afternoon, which translated into clean five-foot waves for Saturday, a perfect day of September surf.

Atlantic groundswell picked up the slack on Saturday, as the round of 96 began in waist to shoulder high, slightly onshore waves. Each heat announced, turned more heads, as a field of former ESA champs, big wave hellions, NSL MVP’s, WCT fixtures, and US All-Stars began battling. Someone must have spread the word about New Jersey’s September magic to get these boys out to a 2-Star on the East Coast.

The Gudauskas twins, Timmy Reyes, Ben Bourgeois, Randy Welch, Liam McNamara, . . .what the hell is Liam McNamara doing in Belmar?

This was quite an event, the international field of competitors all were impressed with what the Atlantic had to offer. Australia’s Beau Mitchell and Antonio Bartoletto, of South Africa, put forth solid performances, in pushing to the semis.

As New Jersey surf has been known to do, the waves dropped off considerably through the morning, making for a sloppy, inconsistent, and weak playing field.

“There was a lot of hassling and not a lot of good surf. Everyone was paddling each other over to the rocks,” said Hewy, who had dominated in all conditions, “I prefer a contest where everybody takes a turn on a good wave.”

The other finalists would have preferred if Hewy had stayed in Florida. Next stop, Atlantic City. Jon Coen

RESULTS:
1Bryan Hewitson$5,000
2Nathan Carrol$2,500
3Michel Flores$2,000
4Dean Randazzo$1,500

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