Weather is unfamiliar with cliche. It had been a foggy, breezy Saturday morning at Upper Trestles but the 2013 Rip Curl Gromsearch National Championships didn’t seem to mind. The most talented young surfers in America were there toiling in the fog. All day long, people speculated that the sun would eventually win its battle with the gray and burst through the sky. And perfectly on cue, the clouds began to part as the first crew of finalists grabbed their dripping wet jerseys and checked in. “Here comes the sun!” exclaimed George Harrison, but he had spoke too soon. The sun didn’t come, the wind didn’t sit down and the surfing didn’t falter. Atmospheric conditions never did like The Beatles anyhow.
The first final to paddle out was the Boys 12 & Under. All four surfers surfed with such form and flow that it was almost unrealistic. It felt like a “Honey I Shrunk the WCT” spinoff in a Taylor Steele theme gone off the rails, except without the Benji Weatherly section. That good. And when the fat lady had finished her song, Eithan Osbourne was declared king. Fellow finalists Stevie Pittman and Wyatt McHale helped chair big E up the beach. It was cute to see the kids acting like such good sports. If they were any older, rocks may have been kicked or boards punched. Testosterone’s a hell of a hormone.
Boys 14 & Under would be next. As a young man’s voice deepens, his turns become more powerful and his airs become more swift. One kid with a booming voice and a brawny backhand was Kaulana Apo. The Hawaiian was unwavering all day long and this became an issue for Luke Gordon, Nolan Rapoza and John Mel in the final. Kaulana wasn’t hoisted by any of his fellow competitors, but sportsmanship wasn’t to blame. He’s a big boy, this Apo fella.
Then along came the Girls 16 & Under. Tyler Wright was on the beach and she watched like an eagle. A second-in-the-world, highly skilled eagle. Tyler saw the final go back and forth like her 2013 world title race with Carissa Moore. In the closing minutes, Brisa Hennessy snagged the win from Bailey Nagey. Can’t stop those young Hawaiians, Tyler sighed.
And in the last and final foggy heat of the day, Boys 16 & Under took to the slopes — slopes being slopey Uppers walls. The heat oozed with talent, but it was hard to find a good wave and they certainly weren’t available for purchase. Kei Kobayashi looked like he had it wrapped up, but with under five minutes left things sped up. A set came and Griffin Colapinto minced the first wave. Pat Curren got the next and annihilated. The final horn blew as Griffin and Pat stood on the beach, 5 feet apart. They waited as the judges dealt with the hardest decision of their day. After a grueling silence, Pat was given the nod and he wore that humble smirk that could only be inherited from Tom Curren.
And when all had been said, four surfers left the beach with $500 and national titles — and two of those four had earned tickets to Australia. Brisa Hennessy, Pat Curren and George Harrison walked back up the path hand in hand in hand. All three hoped that the International Championships at Bells wouldn’t be so damn foggy. –Brendan Buckley