Terrible surf, great surfing at ISF 50th Anniversary contest


Alex Sexias

Alex Sexias didn’t let losing his nose in the shore pound end his heat. Photo by Randy Angel

It was a stormy two foot, sloppy, onshore windy drizzly morning for the 50th Anniversary International Surf Festival Surf Contest on the south side of the Hermosa Beach Pier on Saturday. [Contest surf photos]

“I almost called it off.  But then I noticed there was enough surf to survive the high tide and started the contest,” director John Joseph said.

A lot of hot surfers from the South Bay High School Surf League and their parents were totally into the contest, despite the conditions. The South Bay Board Riders Surf Club had their top surfers entered in the contest, too. John Joseph, his son John Junior and his wife Claudia had every heat running on time. At first glance I thought I was pulling up to a ‘60s contest where all the top surfers were there because you knew the contest was on no matter what the conditions were like. You never complained about the waves because the late Hoppy Swartz and Leroy Grannis always said “Everybody has to ride the same waves.”

The long board heats were having the roughest time. You’d think it would be easier because you can catch the wave further out on a long board. But halfway through their turns they hit the beach. Redondo High Senior Ben Fortun made the most of his semi heat by jumping to the nose in the early ‘60s David Nuuhiwa style, then sliding down the beach toward the pier. Poor Kevin Cody was forced to borrow a board off the beach for  his heat. Big Kevin Holms lent him his favorite 10-foot, Cove Cruiser. Cody weighs in at about 140 while Kevin Holms is 200 pounds-plus. His biceps are as big around as Cody’s waist. It’s kind of like surfing with “Shrek” because he is amazingly light on his feet and surfs very well. Cody looked like he was riding a stand-up without the paddle. He never figured out how to turn Big Kevin’s tanker.


Cole Tashman surfer

Floridian Cole Tashman kept the pressure on the locals. Photo by Randy Angel


San Pedro’s Alex Seixas was having an even tougher time. He broke off the nose of his favorite long board in the shore on his second wave. He waved it at the judges hoping for sympathy points. Kevin Holms surfed well in the following heat, making the most of choppy rights off the pier and managing a few coasters in the shore break then switching stance on the lefts into the pier.

Manhattan’s Tim Ferguson got the most out of every ride, switching stance and finishing with some nice coasters. Brian Long made several big smacks off the lip throughout the contest. Redondo High’s David Fillman is a tall, shy long boarder with a smooth improving style. David got the second best ride in the contest. He ran to the nose coming out of his bottom turn to hang five then went into a spinner right on the tip before back peddling, and finishing with a coaster to place second in the final.

The to three women’s positions were taken by South Bay Surf League riders Jessica Rowan of Palos Verdes, Jordan Wible of Mira Costa and Jessie Duston of Palos Verdes. Dunston smacked the lip with her characteristic forcefulness while Wible leaned into a heavy cutbacks and Jessie Rowan was always flying from one section to another.


Noah Collins surf

Manhattan Middle Schooler Noah Collins showed his pro potential Photo by Randy Angel


The conditions continued to deteriorate but it didn’t dampen the 15 year-old and under final. These little kids put on the show of the day, making the two-foot chop look like an overhead bowl. Redondo’s Kyle Beatty led the way out of the semi’s with his big backside blasts, hanging on by his little toe nails. And Manhattan Middle Schooler Noah Collins had some bit off the lips. But he lost the juniors division (14 and under) to Cole Tashman, who came all the way from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, the shark capitol of the world, to surf in Huntington Beach’s US Open Surfing Championships. He used the Hermosa contest as a tune up. He was the biggest blond kid in the finals and seemingly lost for the first half. But in the last five minutes he had everybody screaming. He picked up an outside, head high wind swell, sped off the bottom and launched five feet in the air, where he went into a summersault, sticking the nose into the lip and sliding down the face backwards, making a 360. I’m still trying to figure out what he did and how he made it. The wave enabled him to overtake Collins a half point

Connor Beatty took over the 16 and over final flying off the top left and right then sticking the landings at the bottom but it was hard to forget Cole in the previous final.

Mens: Connor Beaty, Tim Ferguson, Mike Willingham, Greg Uraka, Ryu Fucuyama, Andre Andrus. Women: Jessie Rowan, Jordan Wible, Jessie Duston, Rachael Tominga, Tamara Lentz, Caroline Carpenter. Juniores: Cole Tashman, Noah Collins, Chris Stimple, Jack Rowan, Kyle Beaty, Rory Negrete. Groms: Nathan Cester, Trey Mahan, Taylor Dalmou. Longboard: Brian Long, jason Leeds, Forrest Wienberg, Tim Ferguson, Kevin Holmes. Jr. Longboard: Connor Beaty, Daid Fillman, Aylan St. Germain, Ben Fortun. Sr. Shortboard: Tim Ferguson, Greg Uraka, Alex Sexias. Senior Long Board: Tim Fegusson, Kevin Holmes, Dave Schaffer. ER

Results: 16 Under short board: Connor Beatty, Ryan Fukyama, Mike Willingham, Gregg Uraka. 15U: Chris Stimpl, Cole Toshman, Kyle Beatty, Jack Rowan, Nathan Chester, Rory Negrett. Long Board 20U: Dylan St. Germain, Hudson Ritchie, Connor Beatty, Ben Fortun, David Gillman. Long Board 21 and over: Mike Angelos, Forrest Weinberg, Brian Lans, Jason Leeds, Kevin Holmes, Jorge Barba. Women: Jessie Rowan, Rachel Tominga,  Jesse Dustin, Jordan Wible, Tamara Lenz, Caroline Carpenter. ER


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