Column: Kolohe Andino is part of San Clemente trio on the World Surf League Championship Tour
The invasion is underway.
This particular invasion has been taking place for a while now, but it is starting to show itself even more on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour.
We’re talking about the San Clemente Invasion, an invasion into the CT by surfers from the South Orange County town of about 65,000 known for being the town where former President Richard Nixon had his “Western White House.”
There are currently three San Clemente Surfers on the CT; that’s three out of 32 surfers in the entire world who qualified for the 2018 season. One is Kolohe Andino, the veteran at age 24 in his seventh CT season.
Andino debuted on the CT at age 18 in 2012 and has made a push for a world championship in each of the last two years, finishing No. 4 in 2016 and No. 7 last year.
Then there’s Pat Gudauskas, of the surfing Gudauskas Brothers. Pat, his twin brother, Dane, and his younger brother, Tanner, are already legends in town. Pat, 31, qualified for the CT this season after missing the cut the previous four years. He was on the CT for four seasons from 2010-13.
Pat Gudauskas is already making his mark this season, reaching the semifinals and finishing equal-third in the just-concluded Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia.
And finally, there’s Griffin Colapinto, a rookie on tour at age 19 and probably more representative of the wave of young surfers looking to reach the pinnacle of pro surfing.
Being a rookie, Colapinto received no favors in his very first CT contest last month at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, finding himself matched up against two-time defending world champion John John Florence in his very first CT heat.
How’d he do? Of course, he beat Florence as well as Aussie Mikey Wright in that Round 1 heat. That allowed him to skip Round 2, then was matched up against veteran Joel Parkinson, taking Parkinson out as well.
Colapinto eventually reached the quarterfinals, where he not only beat Michel Bourez, but he threw up a perfect 10 to advance to the semifinals, where he was beaten by eventual contest winner Julian Wilson.
Griffin’s 16-year-old brother Crosby is among several San Clemente surfers who have already attracted big-name sponsors and are currently putting in their time in the WSL’s Junior Tour and Qualifying Series.
Surely, there is something in the water down there at Trestles. Or maybe it is the water. Oh, and by the way, Nixon’s Western White House was last listed for $63.5 million.
Keeping up with Kanoa
Huntington Beach local Kanoa Igarashi, now officially surfing for Japan, has had mixed results in the first two CT contests of the season, and has found himself matched up with those San Clemente guys.
In the first contest of the season last month at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, Igarashi was in a three-man heat with Andino and Hawaii’s Keanu Asing. Andino won the heat and Igarashi was third.
Igarashi, though, bounced back and won two elimination heats in a row, beating Asing in Round 2 and Portugal’s Frederico Morais in Round 3. In Round 4, a three-man heat in which only the top two advance, Igarashi finished third, losing out to eventual contest winner Julian Wilson and Colapinto.
In the second CT contest at Bells Beach, Igarashi was third in Round 1, then found himself matched up with Gudauskas in Round 2. Gudauskas pulled it out, outscoring Igarashi 14.33-11.03.
JOE HAAKENSON is a Huntington Beach-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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