The advantages of riding Aliso Beach waves year-round was evident in the final round for the pros at the 32nd annual Victoria Skimboards World Championships of Skimboarding. Four Laguna Beach residents battled for the top spot in the two-day event at Aliso Beach, which served up a mixture of sun and clouds and produced some gnarly 3- to 5-foot swells for competitors from all over the world.
Brandon Rothe took the 2008 title, followed by last year’s winner Bill Bryan. Brandon Sears was in third place and Brendan “Noogie” Stevens was fourth.
“This is so awesome,” Rothe said after he was presented with his trophy and prize check. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done well in this competition, so it’s a big surprise for me.”
Paulo Prietto, Chris Marciniak, Sam Stinnett and Brad Domke rounded out the top eight.
Trigg Garner, general manager of Victoria Skimboards, said Rothe was on top of his game Sunday.
“The turns were clean, the barrels big and the tricks thrown with confidence and stomped,” he said. “He had just a turn or trick more than Bill Bryan, who came in a close second.”
Garner predicted that Rothe would be one of the finalists prior to the competition.
“He’s a very fluid rider,” he said. “From mounting the board, to gliding across the water, to his turns and maneuvers on waves, to his completion of waves, it all looks effortless.”
About 200 people showed up for the after party at Seven Degrees to enjoy the festivities, which included live jams by local band Soulag Vibrations. Winners of each skimboarding division were also announced, something that Vic Skim typically announces at the beach immediately following the contest.
First-place winners in the age-group amateur divisions were: Joey Lapolla (8-and-under), Max Wheeler (9-11), Blair Conklin (12-14), Simon Avedissian (15-17), Thomas Fryman (18-21), John Salinas (22-24), Kelly Hawlish (25-29), Paul Wade (30-39), Brad Dickey (Legends) and Shonna Cobb (Women).
Wheeler, the No. 1 rider in Delaware in his division, said he was nervous to compete against California skimboarders.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’m just surprised. I can’t believe I won it.”
Cobb, who has won seven titles in the eight years she’s been competing, said this was the first year she was worried about losing her title.
“Let me tell you, these girls are starting to rip!” she said.
Additional awards went to Pamela Simpson, the oldest competitor in the women’s division for “best wipeout,” Stevens for “best barrel” and Domke for “best trick,” which was a 360 shuv-it to front-side wrap.
The youngest of the competitors was 4-year-old Dominic Sanzone, who said he’s been skimboarding for just a few weeks.
“I see the big waves and I run after them,” he said.
Of taking third place in the 8-and-under division, Sanzone said, “it’s good.”
ASHLEY BREEDING can be reached at (949) 494-4321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.