Cam Richards, Parker Coffin and Leila Hurst take top honors in Huntington Beach
The NSSA National Championships were planning on an early fireworks show on Sunday at the legendary Huntington Beach Pier. But the dim, two-foot waves weren't exactly sending any sparks to the nation's best amateurs, forcing South Carolina's Cam Richards and Kauai's Leila Hurst to build M-80s out of matches to take the Open Mens and Womens Mayor's Cup Titles.
After a week of average surf, on the final day, NSSA Executive Director Janice Aragon took note of the meagerness and said simply: "These super challenging conditions will be won by the super challengers."
Indeed. 15-year-old Cam Richards, fresh off a King of the Groms HB win and a Standout Performance at the Quilksilver USA Champs, challenged the gutless walls to let off some steam on the older division -- and dominated. "I was really bummed I didn't make Open Juniors, 'cause that was the main division I was focusing on. So I just took out my anger on the Open Mens."
A pretty carefree Richards breezed through the early rounds. But once the field was chopped to twelve surfers, he began to realize the weight of what was happening. Richards reflects, "Once it got down to the quarters and semis, I started feeling the pressure because I knew I was in the running to win -- it was scary."
In the 30-minute final, Cam mixed tailslides and precise rail carves on the numbered lefts to take over the lead from start to finish.
This makes only the second time an East Coaster has won the prestigious Open Mens title -- the last time it happened was in the summer of 1978, NSSA's inaugural year.
Before this year, Leila Hurst already made a big impact on the NSSA with two Explorer Women titles -- and she even made the final in the Open Women back in '08. But with all the prestige on the Open title, she didn't want to head into her pro career without one.
"The only reason why I did NSSA again was to get that Open Womens Title," Leila explains, "Open is such a bigger deal than Explorer."
Well Leila ended up winning her third Explorer Womens title earlier in the week, it was just a side note on her way to achieving her goal.
And the Open Womens final wasn't exactly a breeze - it had some great talent that kept Leila focused.
"I was actually worried about Taylor Pitz cause I've seen her surf really well before." Leila admits, "Tatiana (Weston-Webb) and Mahina (Maeda)-are little machines, they just catch wave after wave and have so much energy."
Leila blitzed a few lefts, hitting the lip with power on her backhand to seal the deal. Tatiana had a late charge but her waves weren't connecting to the inside and couldn't catch up. Leila can go ahead and qualify for the WT, now that her amateur dreams are fulfilled.
Open Mens Champion: Cam Richards
Open Womens Champion: Leila Hurst
Open Junior Champion: Parker Coffin
Open Boys Champion: Jake Marshall
Open Girls Champion: Dax McGill
Open Mini Grom Champion: Tyler Gunter
Open Longboard Champion: Steve McLean
For more results and info go to nssalive.com