Joe Surf: Paddling out for Zach

The Newport Harbor High School surf team — with help from Volcom, Surfside, Arnette, OAM and Vestal — sponsored the 13th annual Newport Surf Classic last weekend at 54th Street in Newport, but it was more than another local surf contest.

The two-day event also included a memorial for Zach Morabito, a Newport Harbor surf team member who lost his battle with brain cancer in August.

The memorial started out with an "expression session," in which surfers showcased their own tricks and airs without being judged for points. That was followed by a paddleout in which more than 50 surfers wearing leis formed a circle and shared their own personal memories of Zach.

Proceeds from the purchase of the leis benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Matt Porteous, a senior and surf team member at Newport Harbor, was instrumental in organizing the memorial for Zach, working with the Morabito family and Newport Harbor surf team coach Matt Burns.

"I talked to (Zach's) parents and I talked to our surf team and we just thought it'd be cool if we made it part of our Classic, in celebration of Zach," Porteous said. "I was friends with Zach since he was a freshman, and when he got sick he couldn't surf but he loved to surf.

"His whole family, they lived on the beach. It was everybody on the surf team and the whole surfing community kind of thing, to make it in memory of him and in celebration of him."

The contest itself had some great surfing in a variety of divisions. The high school division was won by Will Laidlaw, with Ryan Croteau coming in second, Blake Davis in third and James Newman in fourth.

Other winners in their respective divisions included Tyler Gunter (middle school), Griffin Foy (elementary school), Amy Lowery (girls), Troy Mothershead (longboard), Bobby Okvist (bodyboard), Nick Fowler (graduated), Skip Snead (masters), and Jesse Guigliemana (airshow).

Porteous was not able to compete in the contest because he had a lacrosse game on Saturday, but his efforts to set up the memorial made sure Zach's memory will live on.

"Zach was really cool, he was outgoing and he lived life to the fullest," Porteous said. "He loved to surf and he loved to be outdoors and do all that stuff.

"You never want to see anyone go through that, but he fought. There were times he got better, but then got worse again. It was hard to see him go through that. I definitely don't take things for granted now. I do like to set goals and look to the future, but I think I live life in the moment now. It makes me want to do what I have in front of me instead of waiting around for something else."


Don't look now, but Courtney Conlogue, a graduate of Sage Hill High in Newport Coast, is stirring up trouble in the race for the Assn. of Surfing Professionals Women's World Championship Tour.

Conlogue, 19, went Down Under last week and came out on top over women's surfing stalwarts like Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons in their home country of Australia.

Conlogue won the Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic, the fourth stop on the seven-event women's World Tour that culminates in Huntington at the U.S. Open.

After Gilmore and Fitzgibbons went out in the quarterfinals, Conlogue beat Hawaiian Malia Manuel to take home the first-place prize of $30,000.

"I'm speechless right now!" Conlogue told after winning the event. "It's been two years on the ASP Women's World Championship Tour where I kept losing in the quarterfinals. Then after winning my quarterfinal I just tried to go and win the thing. Malia was surfing great in the final, even though the waves were tricky. I'm really stoked to have won this event! I love Steph and Sally and to have them chair me up the beach was absolutely amazing!"

With just three women's World Tour contests remaining, Conlogue is in fourth place in the overall points standings, trailing only Gilmore, Fitzgibbons and another Aussie, Tyler Wright.


The Newport Beach Film Festival is getting underway Thursday and as usual, there are plenty of Action Sports films to check out.

Here's a list of those films with the dates and times of their showing:

"Decade of Dominance," 6:15 p.m. Saturday at the Regency Lido Theatre; "All.i.can," at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday at Triangle Square; "The Art of Flight," at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Triangle Square; "BoardRoom," at 5:45 p.m. May 3 at Triangle Square; "Day at the Pool," at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at Triangle Square; "Format Perspective," at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at Triangle Square, "H2indO," Sunday, 6:30 p.m. at Regency Lido Theatre.

"Hicks on Sticks," at 7:45 p.m. Sunday at Triangle Square; "Man and Machine," at 3:45 p.m. Sunday at Triangle Square; "Manufacturing Stoke," at noon Saturday at the Muth Center; "Minds in the Water," at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at Triangle Square.

"The Ordinary Skier," at 8:15 p.m. on May 2 at Island Cinema; "Stacked," at 6 p.m. May 3 at Island Cinema; "Drop," at 6 p.m. May 3, at Island Cinema; "Surfing the Wild East," at 6 p.m. Saturday at Island Cinema; "Lost & Found," at 6 p.m. Saturday at Island Cinema; "Winter," at 7:45 p.m. on Monday at Island Cinema; and "Wyoming Triumph," at 7 p.m. on May 1 at Island Cinema.

Also playing at the Festival is "Crusty 16 – Outback Attack," which plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Triangle Square. The film's production company is based in Huntington Beach.

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

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