Joe Surf: Balancing school and the board

Pro surfing and school don't mix.

At least not the kind of school that requires its students to show up on time, spend most of the day in a classroom and then go home and do homework into the afternoon and evening.

That's why so many up-and-coming surfers are home-schooled. That's not a bad thing, and sometimes it can be even better than public schooling.

But for those who do go to school and also try to grow a professional surfing career, much credit should be given.

Taylor Pitz was featured in this space last September as she decided to skip the Assn. of Surfing Professionals Women's World Junior Championships, instead choosing to move into the dorms and begin school at UCLA.

There's another surfer who is making it work these days as well — Newport Beach's Chase Wilson. Wilson, 20, graduated from Newport Harbor High and is now attending UC Santa Barbara.

Wilson is not only doing it, he's doing it well.

Wilson has been surfing in the ASP Men's Star Events in Australia the past few weeks and is making a mark. At the Breaka Burleigh Pro in Burleigh Heads, Queensland, earlier this month, Wilson placed tied for 13th and earned $1,500. It was the second highest finish of any U.S. surfer, including Hawaiians, behind only Kolohe Andino.

He dropped to 73rd last week in the Australian Open, but that was a highly-rated 6-star event. He also placed 17th in the Billabong ASP World Juniors event in January, tied with fellow Newport Beach surfer Andrew Doheny.

And Wilson is on the alternate list to compete in the Burton Toyota Pro next month, another 6-star event in Australia.


More on Windy City surfer case...

Turns out, Kelly Slater was right. Surfing is not a crime.

At least not this time. A judge in Chicago dropped all charges against cold-water surfer Rex Flodstrom last week when Flodstrom agreed to perform 20 hours of community service by March 19.

"My lawyer and I deliberated on whether to take the 20 hours or take it to trial a month later," Flodstrom told "He said we'd almost certainly win the case, but in the slim chance that we didn't I would get a misdemeanor on my record and a fine."

Flodstrom was arrested in January and charged with disorderly conduct, two counts of violating a Chicago Park District ordinance and one count of being in the park after park hours. He was handcuffed and taken to jail in his wetsuit after police waved him out of the water in Lake Michigan.

Slater was vocal in his support via Twitter, but he did not show up for Flodstrom's hearing despite rumors he would. Laguna Beach's James Pribram, though, was right by Flodstrom's side.

Though Pribram favored taking it to trial, he was Flodstrom's most staunch supporter. In news interview videos of Flodstrom that aired nationally, Pribram could be seen standing next to Flodstrom.

Pribram was instrumental in 2009 in convincing the city of Chicago to allow surfing at four beaches off Lake Michigan in the Chicago area. Flodstrom, however, was arrested at Oak Street Beach, which was not one of the four surfing-allowed beaches.


Gunning Down Under for 12th world title

Slater, 40, will begin defense of his ASP World Tour title Saturday with the first contest of the season on the Gold Coast of Australia. Well, sort of.

Slater has been coy about his intentions in each of the past few years, saying he'd make a decision whether or not to go for it based on his performance in the season-opening Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.

Typically he does well — he won it last year, and also in 2006 and 2008.

"There have been years when this approach has been a little frustrating but it's also sort of a wild-card way of deciding," Slater said on the ASP website. "I've had good success on the Goldy and this year should be fun again. I can't wait to be there. I'm undecided as to whether I'll apply full time (to the 2012 ASP World Title Series). That's probably no secret. I'll go by feel and whatever feels right internally, I'll stick with that."

Translation: He's in. He would love to win at age 40, and cap his career with his 12th world title exactly 20 years since his first.

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He can be reached at

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