2005 NSSA Nationals: Day 5

posted by / News / June 26, 2005

NSSA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: FINAL DAY

Clay Marzo and Carissa Moore are the king and queen of the Big Dance

Surf: 4- to 5-feet and 6 foot sets with a slight wind on it for most of the day–mix in a little red-tide for an extra scenic effect and one couldn’t ask for a more dramatic, historical setting.

Rounds: The finals, brah.

Nature’s Call: During the early morning heats only a few spectators dotted the beach. They hunched underneath blankets and gripped their morning coffees in an attempt to stay warm against the onshore winds and the gray clouds that puffed like cauliflower over the horizon. But when the clock struck 12, the sun broke out, the spectators swarmed the beach, and the quiet hours of dawn–in which the day’s competitors had time to ruminate over their upcoming heats–were a long, distant memory. It’s showtime.

Prediction: Clay Marzo becomes the biggest tourist attraction on Maui.

Heats of the Day: The Open Mens Semi-Finals 1 and 2, the {{{Explorer}}} Boys Finals, the Explorer Juniors Finals and the Explorer Womens were some of the days most competitive. Furthermore, the fickleness of the surf added an extra element of suspense to the whole thing. In the first Mens Semi-Finals, Eric Geiselman–one of the East Coast’s highest ranked surfers–had trouble finding waves. And then there was the Explorer Juniors Finals. The line up says it all:
R: Casey Brown
B: Dane Ward
Y: Eric Geiselman
O: Nick Rozsa
G: Kai Barger
W: Mason Ho

And talk about the Women and Boys! Both finals seemed to take the surfing of each one’s respective category to a whole new level.

But if exciting is what you are after, look no further than the Open Mens when Clay Marzo earned himself two perfect rides, making it the first competitor in NSSA history to surf a perfect Nationals final.

Performers of the Day: Hands down, Clay Marzo gets this honor on account of his perfect heat in the Open Mens Final. Reviewing Clay’s performance throughout the Open Mens competition as he made his way into the Final round, Clay played his cards close, not showing that he was carrying a Royal Flush until the last heat. After all, the only fifteen year old to ever win the Mens was Kalani Robb. Add to this the probability of having two perfect heats (Geiselman’s took place only 3 days prior) in one NSSA Nationals event? Give me a break, this type of lightening never strikes twice.

While it might seem as though Clay’s performance was unexpected, the competitors themselves usually have a keener eye on who to look out for, as Dane Ward admitted before the Open Mens Final that his biggest threat was Clay.

The thing is, nobody, except Clay, was ready for what took place in the Final.

“It’s a pretty big final, and that’d be cool to win a car,” Clay said right before he competed in the historic event. “I’m just going to try to be aggressive. I’m thinking about getting two solid scores and then after that I can try to go as big as possible and blow up.”

Almost immediately after this quick interview, Clay slipped into his Red jersey and did just that. Earning a perfect score on his first ride, Clay was sitting pretty for the heat, waiting on his second wave to solidify a strong combo. Meanwhile Torrey Meister had scored two high waves of an 8.75 and 7.5 moving him into first. Clay’s second wave soon came through, but he was only able to get a 6, making his combined score a 16–one that was not enough to beat Meister‘s 16.25. Another wave came through and Clay tried again. A 5.75. Still no dice. And then it happened. An outside set rippled over the horizon and Clay was in the right position. Dropping into the left on his forehand, Clay threw his tail out again and again, each time looking almost as though he wasn’t going to stick it, and then he finished the wave with an air-reverse. The announcers called out Clay’s second 10 of the heat. Perhaps in disbelief, shock, or maybe he just plain fainted, Clay rolled off the bac k of his board and sat inside letting the good news sink in.

Free to mess around, Clay paddled back out into the line-up and caught another set a few waves later, earning him a 9.5…that (for the same reason of Eric Geiselman’s two 10’s and a 9.5 three days ealier) was discarded.

The buzzer rang, and Clay’s supporters immediately beelined to the shore and hoisted him on on their shoulders. Interview upon interview, slap on the shoulder/back after slap, congratulations after congratulations, Clay made his way to the NSSA tent to receive his new {{{Toyota Matrix}}}–the entire way with the expression of removed ecstasy upon his face.

“This is the best day of my life,” Clay said to the announcer and crowd over the microphone. And it probably was. But one thing’s for sure: the day or dream (whatever you want to call it) had never been one he didn’t believe in.

Turn your attention to the Women’s spectrum now, to the Explorer Womens Final, and you’ll see another young’n who also accomplished the incomprehensible. Bethany Hamilton, whose name and story is already legendary, has a very good chance of winning the Explorer Womens division. Compared to last year, her style and surfing have grown by leaps and bounds.

“Ben Aipa (Bethany’s coach) has been doing a lot of stuff with her psychologically,” Noah Hamilton, photographer and Bethany’s brother explains while adjusting his camera lens. “He’s been getting her to visualize that her arms still there so she can through her weight around more naturally and now she’s just been doing better than ever. If you watch old videos of her, she never fell and she’s still got that same knack to stay on.”

Gracefully pulling off technical combos of front side-cuts and tail-slides Bethany had a strong hold on the first place position going into the five minute warning (official results will be announced tonight).

“I was kinda nervous before the heat because I had a couple of off sessions,” Bethany shyly admits. “But once I got my first two waves I was like hehehe and started to have fun and everything just set in.”Tough Breaks: Every break’s a tough one on the last day.

Caution: The day has been officially renamed as The Day of the Hawaiian Invasion. The morning’s Open Quarter Final Heat in which all the competitors were Hawaiian ought to have been a sign for what was to come. This year at the NSSA it was clear that the West and East coast all have a bit of catching up to do as the Hawaiians dominated the most important events of the day. Carissa Moore (Open Women), the Florence brothers, Bethany Hamilton, CLAY MARZO–just to drop a few top performer’s names.

Kodak Quotes:

“He’s no even old enough to drive that thing!”–spectator commenting about the new {{{Toyota}}} {{{Matrix}}} Clay Marzo got along with his first place finish in the Open Mens.

“After watching this event I just changed my favorite female surfer from Sofia Mulanovich to Carissa Moore.”–Spounge, after watching Carissa win the Open Womens.

FINAL HEATS:
(results will be posted after tonight’s Nationals Banquet.)

EXPLORERSuper Seniors
R: Mike Lamm
B: Pat Conway
Y: Steve Mendelson
O: Patrick Schlick
G: David Winslow
W: Bryan Surratt

Girls
R: Carissa Moore
B: Alana Blanchard
Y: Sage Erickson
O: Coco Ho
G: Melia Manuel
W: Leila Hurst

(Bet Moore, Ho, and Blanchard)

Seniors
R: Jason Haughey
B: Andrew Berman
Y: Mike Glevy
O: Rusty Phillipy
G: Ricky Schaffer
W: Buggs Arico

Mens
R: Dusty Payne
B: Nick Rozsa
Y: Brady McKenzie
O: Torrey Meister
G: Jeremy Johnston
W: Eric Geiselman

Menehuene
R: Ezekiel Lau
B: John John Florence
Y: Andrew Doheny
O: Luke Davis
G: Kolohe Andino
W: Koa Smith

Juniors
R: Casey Brown
B: tanner Gudauskas
Y: Eric Geiselman
O: Nick Rozsa
G: Kai Barger
W: Mason Ho

Womens
R: Alana Blanchard
B: Colleen Mehlberg
Y: Ashley Bobb
O: Sage Erickson
G: Lani Hunter
W: Bethany Hamilton (winner)

Masters
R: Rusty Phillipy
B: Micah Pitts
Y: YuFu Penrose
O: Chad LaBass
G: Andrew Valentine
W: Jon Moellendick

Longboard
n/a

Boys
R: Granger Larsen
B: Hizon Lee-Kee
Y: Evan Geiselman
O: Alex Smith
G: Kris Wiernicki
W: Dillon Perillo

OPENWomens
R: Carissa Moore (1st)
B: Malia Manuel
Y: Alena Branchard
O: Bethany Hamilton
G: Colleen Mehlberg
W: Courtney Conlogue

Mens
R: Clay Marzo (1st with a perfect heat)
B: Mason Ho
Y: Ricky Whitlock
O: Dane Ward
G: Torrey Meister
W: Kellen Ellison

Longboard
R: Tony Silvagni
B: Troy Mothershead
Y: Joey Aaron
O: Christian Clark
G: Chris Smith
W: Christian Wach

Boys
R: Ezekiel Lau
B: Koa Smith
Y: John John Florence
O: Andrew Doheny
G: Dolohe Andino
W: Evan Geiselman

Juniors
R: Clay Marzo
B: Chas Chidester
Y: Cody Thompson
O: Kai Barger
G: Tonino Benson
W: Cory Arrambide

Mini-Grom
R: Nathan Florence
B: John Elles
Y: Joey Arson

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