Games went full bore

RICK FIGNETTI

It was a wild last couple of weeks here in Surf City with the Bank Of

the West Beach Games going full bore.

There was a lot to choose from with the U.S. Open of Surfing and

the world's best surfers, freestyle motocross on the sand, BMX and

skating in the Soul Bowl, plus some hot concerts to watch, too.

The weather was great -- pretty much hazy-sunny skies, with air

temps in the upper 70s through most of it. A sun worshipper's

delight, with moderate winds out of the west in the afternoons. The

surf was a bit on the small side -- an inconsistent 2- to 3-foot-plus

-- but had its moments with the pros and amateurs tearing it up

anyway.

The big 40-foot Nev Hyman surfboard made the Guinness World Book

of Records, getting 60 surfers riding a wave together in a

touch-and-go situation on the south side of the pier. The old record

was 47 set in Australia earlier this year.

Making it to the men's surfing final was Hawaiian world champ Andy

Irons, who was steamrolling competitors all the way there. On the

other side of the draw was Cardiff's Rob Machado, who was surfing

super fast and loose, too.

The two met up in a much-anticipated show down. A.I. surfed the

peak straight out from the contest and, with an assortment of radical

slashes out the back and a couple connectors to the inside, was

setting the pace and leading most of the final.

Rob was surfing down the beach to the south and had some good

exchanges, but needed a 7.77 score by the end. With 20 seconds left,

all of a sudden a left rolled right to him. Machado busted some moves

out the back -- some fierce cracks -- and reformed to the shore

break, getting a few more turns in there and covering some distance

with a lot of speed.

The whole beach was standing up screaming, wondering if he had won

it. The score was a 7.33, just shy of the mark. But what a try at the

end and what excitement for all those who witnessed it!

So give the world champ the win and $15,000 in cash. That makes it

twice now for him in H.B, so I'd say he likes it here.

The juniors final saw two Hawaiian bros battling it out, with

"Bustin" Dustin Cuizon and the "G-man" Hank Gaskell working their

respective waves. This time, it was Cuizon who was leading the final,

but at the end of the man on man heat, the G man blew a fins-out lip

bash and made it to win the juniors final on that last wave.

In the women's final, Carlbad's Julia Christian was on a roll and

took it by a landslide over Australian Rebecca Woods. Woods didn't

even catch a wave in the 30-minute final waiting for the bigger sets

that never came. Woods was still happy to get second, cause she's

number one in the World Qualifying Series ratings and should make the

World Championship Tour this year.

The junior women's final was another close one. East Coaster

Karina Petroni looked like she had it in the bag, but South African

Nikita Robb caught a great wave toward the end and nailed a couple of

good lippers to take it. In third was Coco Ho from Hawaii, and fourth

was Newport Beach's Erica Hosseini.

In the long board final, nobody could stop the style master Joel

Tudor, who racked up his incredible eighth U.S. Open victory. Tudor

was getting 10 toes on the nose, pulling fin-first takeoffs and even

a spinner to win $2,500. In second was three-time world champ Colin

McPhillips, who was mixing it up old school and new school, ripping

hard too. It probably should've been a lot closer than the scores

read.

Third went to Oceanside's Taylor Jensen, who had some nice

footwork, too. South African Matthew Moir claimed the fourth spot.

And that's it. Another year in the books with tons of fun, good

business for the local merchants and a chance to see the best pro

surfers live in action for free! Hope ya enjoyed the Figster, Jimmy,

Stanfield and M.D.'s emcee work, and we'll see ya again next year.

* RICK FIGNETTI is an nine-time West Coast champion, has

announced the U.S. Open of Surfing the last 12 years and has been the

KROQ-FM surfologist for the last 18 years, doing morning surf

reports. He owns a surf shop on Main Street. You can reach him at

(714) 536-1058.

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