BRIGHT LIGHTS, NO ‘CT

posted by / News / September 25, 2004

The Boost Mobile Pro went down at Trestles last week . . .Andy, Kelly, Dane Reynolds, yada yada yada. Hard to believe, but there was another contest last weekend. And while surfing fans may not have been tuned-in, the top ‘QS competitors in the world, and some guy name Tom Curren, were pretty focused on the sandbar north of Steel Pier, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

For the first time in it’s 12-year history, the Dan Heritage Memorial Rip Curl Pro moved to Atlantic City in front of the Taj Mahal. While A.C. boasts world-famous attractions, it’s the distractions that make the East Coast gambling mecca what it is. Getting from the Taj Mahal parking garage to the contest site itself was far more entertaining than the hike to Lowers. Sure the Trestles Trail has a graffiti artist’s version of the Mona Lisa, plenty of wax-scribed whiners and cryptic warnings — remember: Don’t By Drugs from Dallas — but that’s nothing compared to bait laid out by Donald Trump. Surfers had to navigate used bling shops and the Go-Go joints, a healthy busted woman giving out promo items, free cocktails, roulette tables and off track betting. And then there was the Miss America Pageant.

“It’s so crazy to come right off the beach, into the casino,” said {{{Magnum}}} Martinez, of Venezuela. ” I was tripping out, standing there with my boards, in the middle of all these people and slot machines.”

“All the people on the streets downtown look like zombies,” observed quarterfinalist Simon Nicholson, of South Africa. “Everyone seems to be looking for Lady Luck.”

Brian Heritage rolled the dice, moving the event to Atlantic City, getting a big payoff. The early round surf was consistent two to four feet, before it died off for the Round of 128. However, for Saturday’s start of the Round of 96, the local winds ala Tropical Depression Ivan whirled up beefy stormsurf, perfect for ‘QS powerhouses like Jesse Merle Jones and {{{Sterling}}} Spencer.

On Sunday, the city had just crowned a new Miss America, and all was good. The sun even decided to return, as a crowd formed to watch the Round of 32. Tim Reyes, Travis Mellem, Gabe Kling, and Brian Toth, took to the water, deservedly, after having defeated the likes of Ben Bourgeios, Dustin Cuizon, Asher Nolan, and Mr. Curren.Then something funny happened. This sideshow event, in the midst of the Circus that is Atlantic City, kind of resembled a surf contest. Chest to head-high lefts were peeling down the beach, the winds were light offshore, and the water even decided to turn blue. Not a minute after the opening horn, Puerto Rico’s Brian Toth found the only barrel of the day. It wasn’t a shack, but more of a borough, that he dug himself into and emerged from, 4 seconds later. It wouldn’t be enough, as Toth took fourth place.Travis Mellem, of California, found one of the biggest waves of the heat. After one turn, the wave looked to be a close-out. Mellem, lofted himself up, and floated over the mutant section, finding a clean line, which he slashed nearly all the way to the Steel Pier for a decisive 6.15, a third place finish and a cool $2,000.

Florida’s Gabe Kling, who seemed to find the longest lefts all afternoon, weaved his way through a 6.25 and a 4.25, with a series of backside lippers and floaters, earning a very respectable second place.

“I’m glad they moved the contest here,” said high rolling Kling. “The waves were fun, and it’s a cool scene.”

Tim Reyes, of Huntington Beach, likes to pace himself. A newly seasoned WQS warrior with a real shot at makingthe big time, he knows it’s not quantity but quality that wins heats. It was nearly 10 minutes into the heat before Reyes connected with a solid left, dissecting the wall like a the ‘CT-bound pro he is. After sitting on his 7.5 for another 10 minutes, he was still in last place despite holding the heat’s highest wave. Then, with less than a minute left, Reyes laid down his ace. He fired off three snaps on a left bowl, winning the event, and cashing in his chips for $7,000.

“Last year, I took second at this event, so I really wanted it,” Reyes said. “It’s awesome to win in New Jersey. “This is my first time to A.C. You find yourself out at night, doing the craziest things.” But don’t count on Reyes coming back next year. With this type of momementum, chances are he’ll be at that other contest. Jon Coen

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