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Conner Coffin breaks down the NSSA National Champs


Evan Thompson, Conner Coffin, Kolohe Andino, Alex Smith : photo NSSA


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Conner Coffin breaks down 2009 NSSA National Champs

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 July, 2009 : - - If you happened to walk down to Lower Trestles on Saturday June 27, you would have been dazzled by the hundreds of people who lined the cobblestones witnessing amateur surfing history be made. There would also have been no question in your mind that the NSSA Nationals is one of amateur surfing’s greatest contests.

Just about every surfer who has been crowned with a prestigious open national title has gone on to a successful career as a professional surfer. This year was no different than any of the past Nationals; records were broken, dreams were shattered, and everyone slammed some shoulder high rippable lowers walls. “Rockin Fig” and Joe Turpel were talking smack on the mike all week keeping the beach intrigued during what can be quite boring lowers lulls while Peter Mel and Dave Stansfield held it down on the rad Nike 6.0 live web cast. So here’s how the long week played out…


Open Men’s is the biggest division at the Nationals and consists of an enormous talent pool. This year, there were 24, 4 man first round heats. A bit of simple math tells us that there were 96 kids/men in this highly competitive division. When you take lower’s high performance walls and throw 96 of the best surfers in the nation at it, you are guaranteed to see some incredible surfing and that is what we saw. From the first round of the Open Men’s, everyone was blowing up! Kolohe Andino, Alex Smith, Evan Thompson, Keanu Asing, Tanner H, and many many more were getting weird from the second they touched the water.

The result: plenty of exciting heats and big scores. Kolohe was keeping the beach spectators on their toes all week punting big airs, chucking his tail, and looking really smooth through big drawn out carves certainly labeling himself as a favorite to win the event. However, he wasn’t the only one looking in fine form. Everyone was ripping and strutting their stuff on the fun peaks, but as the week dwindled down, the two three man semi finals were decided. Semi one consisted of myself (Conner Coffin), Evan Thompson, and local boy Luke Davis.

We took the water and just like every other heat I had been in that day the waves completely stopped coming. Finally, one wave came that I weaseled my way into and got a 9.0. More time went by and before we knew it there was 5 minutes left in the heat. Everyone scrapped to the inside and scrambled for some insiders. Evan Thompson and I ended up moving through the heat. The second semi was stacked as well with Kolohe, Keanu, and Alex Smith. Kolohe and Alex ran away with the heat and joined us in the final.

After a long week and a longer last day, it was time for the men to take the water. Of course, since I had been the flat heat guru all day, no waves came. Brother then picked off one that rolled underneath Alex and I. Linking together his smooth carves with his tail flare, Brother was rewarded with an 8.25. Evan Thompson held his own dropping a 7 with his solid surfing that he had been showcasing all week while I floundered out the back and Alex waited patiently.

Brother snuck back out and grabbed another right throwing two solid carves and a little Larry drop wallet lay back to drop a 7.75. Once again Thompson held his own slamming a left to earn him another keeper score. Meanwhile my shocker continued and I’m pretty sure Alex was thinking the same thing. Finally, Alex threw down a smooth front side air reverse to get him back in the game with an 8-point ride. But it was too little too late and the ocean went flat. Brother Andino is the newly crowned Open Men’s champion and the youngest one at that. Open Men’s was his 3rd National title of the day and that was enough to blast Bobby Martinez’s male record for most National titles into the past.


Wow. Wow. That is all there is to say about the women’s surfing. Maybe the girls division should just be eliminated so that they can surf against the boys? Well that wouldn’t be good because I would get smoked… Anyways that was the level of the girls surfing this year. The bar was set early on in the event at lowers when Malia Manuel, one of the events favorites, dropped a perfect 10 and an 8.75 in one of her early heats. She looked deadly on the Lower’s rights surfing fast and with really good style. But the talk of the last day was 14-year-old Lakey Peterson.

Lakey has been ripping all year but I’m not sure if anyone on the beach was expecting her to do what she did on the last day. First of all, she was thrown into a stacked semi final with the likes of Malia Manuel, Leila Hurst, and Alessa Quizon. Lakey was behind in the heat while Malia and Leila were blowing up. Then, she took off on a perfect Lowers right and went loony on it doing a few big arcing carves dropping an 8.75. This put her right into advancing position and before the other girls could blink, the heat was over and Lakey and Malia were in the final.

Out of the second semi came Courtney Conlogue and Nage Melamed. These four girls paddled out in the Women’s final and had a frenzy of waves to enjoy. Going into the final, the favorites to win were Malia and Courtney while Nage and Lakey were the underdogs. However, they put on quite a show. Nage started off leading the heat with a few mid range scores, but then Lakey did something no one had seen a girl do at Nationals before.

She took off on a mid size wave and did a cut back just before she started to fly down the line. Janice and I were standing next to each other and I said, “Watch this air!” Just as I said that, Lakey hucked herself off of this perfect little ramp. Everyone started freaking out and then she pulled it. Once again, “WOW!” She became the first girl to ever pull an air at the NSSA Nationals. The final wasn’t over yet, but somehow the beach new that it was going to be Lakey coming out on top. Everyone put in a strong fight, but when Lakey bashed a left all the way to the beach in the dying minutes of the heat, she made it clear that the final was hers.


I was the lone Californian in the Open Juniors final. Zeke Lau, Kaimana Jaquias, Matty Costa, and I snuck our way through to the finals and were psyching to get some fun waves in our heat. Zeke’s hunt for a National title and a head of hair has taken him a few years and he had been surfing strong all event. He took his momentum straight into the final. It was another slow heat, but when a good set finally made its way in, Zeke was the one to capitalize on it. Zeke and I actually split the peak, myself on the left while he went right.

The left fizzled out but Zeke went to town on the wave of the heat throwing down some big hacks. He was rewarded with an 8.25 while I only mustered a 6.25 out of the left. Matty and Kaimana had a slow start to the heat and when the waves went flat there wasn’t much for us to fight back on. Zeke was chasing a 3.50 to take the lead from me when he caught an inside wave and did an interesting Larry blow tail creation. The score came in at a 6.75 leaving me needing an 8.75 and everyone else needing close to a combo. I got one last chance in the last minute of the heat but I only posted a 7 leaving Zeke with the win. Zeke locked down his first National title and we will see if he comes back next year with a flourishing head of hair.


The Open Boys are stepping it up big time. Kalani David and Ian Gentil were on a tear the entire event and were putting on an incredible show. Ian’s surfing is amazing. When he paddled out in the Open Boys final the waves started pumping. It sure seems every time the Mini Groms and the Boys touch the water all the waves for the entire day come in that 25 minute window.

This was the case in the Open Boys final and the boys ripped! Ian Gentil put on a clinic. He picked off a perfect Lowers right and slammed it all the way to San Diego. It was obvious after the first three turns that it was going to be a perfect ten. Then he decides to go back out, after he already has the whole final in a combo situation, and get another perfect score. Man, was his surfing impressive. I’m feeling quite lucky that I didn’t have to surf against him in any of my heats.

So, that puts a wrap on another NSSA Nationals, which I thought was the best one I have experienced. The level of surfing seems to get higher and higher every year and the bar is raised. Congrats to all of the champs! It will be interesting to see what next year brings… Hopefully some pumping Lowers!!!! See you guys next year.

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Conner Coffin

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