Joe Surf: HB's Foy goes the distance

Joe Surf: HB's Foy goes the distance
Huntington Beach’s Griffin Foy, 15, surfed almost every day in December ‘sometimes in the dark’ on his way to winning the Trace Up/Stack Up surf contest. (Hand In / Courtesy of Brian Bott)

Griffin Foy has won his share of surfing contests.

He certainly turned some heads last March surfing as a freshman for Huntington Beach High School in the National Scholastic Surfing Assn. (NSSA) Interscholastic State Championships at Church's in San Onofre, winning the boys' shortboard title.


His 9.6 score on a wave in the final heat propelled him to the top, but that score was judged by humans.

True, that's how surfing contests are judged, right? By humans. But Foy, 15, has just finished up winning the Trace Up/Stack Up contest, a contest scored by Trace's data tracking device fixed to his surfboard.


While most contests are completed in a day, this one took 31 days, from Dec. 1-31. The 17 surfers from around the world had 31 days to catch as many waves as they could, wherever they were, and be scored in six categories: Number of waves, longest wave, total ride distance, sharpest turn, max speed and number of turns.

There were winners in each category, and the overall winner would be determined by who won the most categories. And yes, Foy won it, winning three of the six categories: Number of waves (1,760), total ride distance (59 miles) and number of turns (2,235).

Nine of the surfers were in California, surfing anywhere from Encinitas to Santa Cruz. Six were in Hawaii, one was in Florida and one was in Barbados. With conditions varied from place to place, Foy figured his best bet surfing primarily in Huntington was volume — surf, surf, and surf some more.

"There might have been one day when I didn't surf but then I'd make up for it by going out the next night," Foy said. "The pier lights are super bright so you can surf all night long if you want. I'd go out at 9 or 10 o'clock at night and surf a few hours with some of my friends."

And that would explain why Foy's total ride distance was 59 miles, easily outdistancing second-place Noah North's 47-mile total.

"Fifty-nine miles doesn't seem like that long over time," Foy said. "But when you look back, 59 miles is a lot of waves to surf."

Being in the water so much, one might think Foy surely would have a crazy story, maybe an encounter with a shark, or a mermaid, or something unusual. But in reality, the only drama was caused by one of his buddies.

"One night it was like 10, 10:30 and we're all out there surfing out the back and then my friend was like, 'Hey, do you remember that first scene in Jaws?'" Foy said. "That kind of tripped me out."

Right behind Foy in the final rankings was second-place Noah North and third-place London Almida, both from Laguna Beach. North won the sharpest turn category with a 299-degree turn, and finished second to Foy in number of waves (1,683), distance (47 miles) and number of turns (2,089). Almida won the longest wave category (677 yards at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz) and was third in number of waves (727), total ride distance (27 miles) and number of turns (744).

There also was a best video category, in which a GoPro video could be synched with the Trace data. The winner was determined by the number of Instragam "likes." Makana Franzmann of Oahu, Hawaii was first, followed by Almida and Foy.

Shoe City Pro

With the World Surf League's 2016 season in the books, the 2017 surf season is quick to get started and begins with a season-opening Qualifying Series (QS) contest Friday through Sunday at the Huntington Pier in both the men's and women's divisions.

The QS is the series in which surfers can qualify for either the men's or women's World Championship Tour (WCT), so this weekend's Shoe City Pro has lasting implications.

The defending men's Shoe City Pro champ is San Clemente's Patrick Gudauskas, and for the women it's Maud Le Car.

The forecast calls for three- to four-foot waves on Friday but the swell drops off Saturday and Sunday. But it will go on as scheduled provided there are no more shark sightings, like the one spotted next to the pier Sunday, prompting HB Lifeguards to close the water for a mile in each direction north and south of the pier.

The closure also resulted in the sudden cancellation of a Scholastic Surf Series contest, which had reached the quarterfinals on the south side of the pier when the water was closed about 1 p.m.

Ironically, one of the surfers in the contest — Noah North (the same Noah North who placed second in the Trace Up/Stack Up contest) — was stung by a stingray when getting out of the water.

Colapinto shines

San Clemente's Griffin Colapinto, 18, reached the final heat and wound up finishing in second place in the WSL's World Junior Championship last week in Australia.

The highlight of the contest for Colapinto was a 9.60 score on a wave in his semifinal heat win over Hawaii's Finn McGill.


JOE HAAKENSON is a Huntington Beach-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at