2018 KSUSA US Titles and Kneeboard Festival
By Bradford Colwell
The 2018 KSUSA US Kneeboard Titles and Festival returned to Huntington Beach Pier on Friday, February 16th for the first time since 2014 and, as with every US Titles held at The Pier, the waves and weather came together nicely for a full day of competition. We had light offshore breezes in the morning, bright sunny skies all day long, and a slowly fading combination swell from the south and west. This made for very contestable conditions and a great atmosphere for kneeboarders to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones. Everyone from friends and family, spectators on the pier or beach, and sponsors enjoyed the competition.
Congratulations to the 2018 US Titles Champion Gigs Celliers from South Africa! Gigs holds four Kneeboard Surfing World Titles and won his third Title at The Pier in 1996. His US Titles victory was impressive given the strong field. Of note, he was able to pick off the ultimate Buzzer Beater, grabbing a wave just before the final siren which earned an 8.4 average to edge out Blacks local and 2012 US Titles Champion Chris Beresford. Sam Coyne took third place and had an outstanding contest. He continues to surf aggressively with great speed and flow. Five-time US Titles Champion Jack Beresford surfed dominantly throughout the Contest, and even into the Final, but was unable to track down a second quality wave during the final 20 minutes or so.
This year we added the Pro Junior Division to allow those surfers 21-29 to gain additional competitive experience and compete against each other as many of them have been doing since the early days of the KSUSA US Titles. Also, this lines up with the Kneeboard Surfing World Titles, which offers a Pro Junior Division. Shaun Murphy won the inaugural KSUSA Pro Junior Title with a couple of solid waves.
Congratulations to AAA Champion Tom Linn. Tom’s victory was remarkable in that he was not able to get any recent water time and was helicopter skiing in British Columbia just one day prior to the US Titles. Tom’s solid surfing and competitive experience earned him the victory over Jason Foster-2nd, Danny Robertson 3rd, and Casey “Cove Pad Guy” Patelski-4th.
The AA Champion was Bob Woodward who narrowly beat out Scott Hayward for the Title. Tom Caraiso-3rd and Greg Shewman-4th rounded out this competitive Final.
It is important to recognize that the Finalists were surfing in their 5th heat of the day. For Sam Coyne, make that 6 heats as he also surfed in the Pro Junior Final immediately after the Open Final. Congratulations to these Ironmen!
We were fortunate to have Rockin Fig return to the microphone again this year and he was joined by HB legend Mike Butler for a large part of the day. Fig does an outstanding job during this long, 10-hour day, with hardly any breaks, all the while maintaining energy, creativity, and humor. Together, this duo provides great commentary for those on the beach. Thank you also to Gigs-who announces for the WSL- for also providing some commentary with Fig.
The Western Surfing Association (WSA) again collaborated with us for this year’s Titles and we thank them for helping to provide a smooth contest from start to finish. Ed Dimick deserves recognition for organizing the overall contest schedule, heat progressions, and for working seamlessly with WSA to help them do their job efficiently and accurately.
We would like to thank those who entered the contest, and those who supported KSUSA with the Raffles and Live Auction. Your participation and contributions are significant and are appreciated by KSUSA and help to keep US kneeboard surfing strong. To those of you who wanted to enter but were unable to because of work or travel conflicts, or injury, we know you were with us in spirit and hope you can join us next time.
We really want to recognize and thank the Kneelo Cove Crew for coming out and supporting the US Titles and for hanging with the US kneeboard crew who showed up for the Contest. You guys are the best and are always outstanding hosts.
I would like to thank my friends on the KSUSA Team, Joe Coyne, Jack Beresford, Ed Dimick, Tom Linn, Robb Masser, and Casey Patelski who are all are talented, hardworking, and dedicated to KSUSA’s success. Many conference calls and much behinds-the-scenes effort is involved in making the US Titles happen. Together, we are stoked to support kneeboard surfing and look forward to this event as much as you do!
We also had several volunteers who stepped up at a moment’s notice for various tasks as the Event unfolded. Along with Judith Seid, Amada Faddis, and Sheryl Colwell you all helped make the Titles and the evening gathering/Awards successful and to run smoothly despite our space limitations. Thank you all so much!
For the 2017 Titles in Oceanside we were blown away with the trophies that Curtis Odom and Sam Coyne (Trimco Hardware) designed, fabricated, engraved, and built. But this year they outdid themselves! The medals that the Finalists earned are truly One-Of-A-Kind; beautiful, creative, and distinctive. Thank you, Trimco Hardware, for this generous donation of the medals, and the time that was allotted for Curtis and Sam to complete this project!
Our sponsors are incredible and were essential to the overwhelming success of the 2018 Titles. We had many faithful sponsors return this year and were able to partner with several new ones. Joe Coyne and I did our best to recognize and promote these generous sponsors in the weeks leading up to the Titles. We encourage you to visit their websites for more information about their products and services, and to support them as you need new boards and gear, or if you are considering a surf trip to Nicaragua. As you interact with our sponsors please express your appreciation for their support of the KSUSA Titles. “Support those who support our Sport!”
Bird’s Surf Shed-Bird Huffman, Freeline Design-John Mel, Parkes Kneeboards- David Parkes, SD Kneeboards- Joe Taylor/Mark Sweeney, Sea Craft Supply Co-Yucca Fins, Sean “Starky” Williams, Sirena Surf Lodge, Nicaragua-Greg Chrisman, Solid Sun Logistics-Tom Bissell, True Wetsuits-Matt Miller
OFFICIAL SURF SHOP AND PREMIER SPONSOR – TK’s Frog House
Blue Sea Apparel, Block Surf, Bolsa Clothing, Clairemont Surf Shop, Cobian Footwear, Dangerclose Products GoPro Handles, Disorderly Images, Jeff Wallis Photography, Jeffrey Ommen Photography, Joel Mayer Pro Surf Photography, Jon Manss, Kneelo Nation, legless.tv, Mario’s Mexican Food and Cantina, Romanosky Kneeboards, Smith Optics, Stay Covered, Stonefish Skegs, Surf Systems-Cove Pads, The Blue Trip, Tide Has Turned, Tidelines Tide Calendars, Trimco Hardware, Victory Koredry, Viper Surfing Fins
Winning the traditional fish from Bird’s Surf Shed was Mark Robertson. The Parkes custom shape kneeboard certificate winner was Max Bollinger and the Freeline custom shape kneeboard certificate and True wetsuit was won by David Rigo (traveling all the way from Italy). Joe Coyne won the beautiful SD kneeboard package. Bill Sharp from HB Surf School was the highest bidder for the Casa Sirena Surf Lodge-Nicaragua surf trip and my wife Sheryl and I won the watercolor painting from Jon Manss.
To our generous sponsors, we hope you can partner with us again in 2019!
Final thanks to all who attended the KSUSA US Kneeboard Titles and Kneeboard Festival either as a competitor, family member, or friend. The camaraderie and stoke are real, and we have new Champion!