This post has been really delayed because for the life of me I could not log into this blog account!
Anyways, my trip to the First annual Blowsion Surf Slam Presented by WORX in Pacific City Oregon was a rough journey, tough competition, but overall successful! Leaving off from my last blog, I arrived at my good friend and amateur rider Zack Bright’s house around 2am, We then woke up around 5 am to load up his dad’s company fleet truck, which was a 2 wheel drive automatic Ford Ranger with no cruise control for a 16hr+ 1000mile drive to our destination. With the Truck loaded with our gear, extra parts, and my double trailer hitched on the back with our skis, we were on the freeway at 7am and arrived at our first destination in Sherwood, Oregon at around 3 am to get some much needed rest at a local motel 8. We stayed at this location because it was the cheapest motel 15 minutes away from the main event sponsor Blowsion Kustoms shop. It was there where we got to see many familiar faces of the Blowsion work force, as well as guests like Steve Webster of Kommander Industries, Freestyle pro rider Josh Lustic, race legend Robby Myer, Ross Champion, Chris and Rhonda Burgess of Nacencey Cinema, and many other people. All who came in to hang out, snag some product off the shelf, and or do some last minute pre-competition repairs and modifications before we all left that night for a 2-3 hour drive to the event site in Pacific City, Oregon. We arrived at about 3am that night to lay over at the event staff’s rental home.
The following morning we got breakfast at the local breakfast cottage, while we waited for our beach front rental cabin to be ready. A few hours later were at the cabin that John Dady the owner of Blowsion was very kind to not only rent for his riders and photographer’s to stay at, but also allowing Zack and I to crash there. It was very generous of him and I still appreciate that warm cabin to this day. All unpacked, we drove 15 minutes away to the event site at Tierra Del Mar so we could all practice, and so I could then also break in my 3rd brand new top end of the year. Which is usually the thing a person would do weeks if not months before you are 1000 miles away the day before a competition. After tearing up some beautiful 4-5ft pre event surf we loaded up and made our way back to the cabin. We all cleaned up and drove 4 minutes down the street to the one and only Mexican food joint in the very small town of Pacific City. We had a great first night’s meal with good friends talking about past events in anticipation for the start of the surf slam the next day.
The next morning we arrived early for the riders meeting which for the amateur part of the competition seemed to be still in development. To decide the bracket seating we geared up and were told to go out for a few minutes and practice riding while world champion and amateur competition judge Ross Champion would then seat us by the look of our riding. I ended up being seated 3rd bellow friend and rider Chris Rosner and Stanton High at the top. Hours later after pro qualifying I was in the second heat against Ramon Ferre from Spain. Nothing will ever replace that feeling of wearing a red sponsor bib, standing next to my ski on the beach tote underneath the judging stand waiting for the event staff to signal us to launch. All those times, before I really got involved in the sport, before I ever dreamed If I could become a sponsored rider, watching videos of the pros standing in the same setting and environment before they went out to compete. I was so excited and stoked on the reality of where I was and what was going on, words cannot explain the feelings I had. . It was such an awesome feeling to be right there on deck so when the they signaled us to launch, adrenaline consumed me. This was good because It made me oblivious to my nerves of riding in the 15-20 foot massive power full and washing machine like surf that Ramon and I were charging our skis toward. Running down the beach toward the surf a 3 ft surge came up perfectly washing my beach tote out from under my ski making my launch almost effortless. I opened up the throttle on my ski shredding around in the shallows feeding my adrenaline, waiting for Ramon who launched his ski too early and had to wait for a wave surge to provide some deeper water to take off from. Ramon was in the water and I could only do circles keeping an eye at the judging tower waiting for the red flag to go down and the green flag to go up to start our 5 minute heat. I watched the flagman drop the red flag so I immediately started my stop watch on my handlebars so I could keep track of my time out there. By the time I looked up the green flag was up and I found myself riding full throttle almost everywhere. It was such a messy and gnarly surf break that it made it really hard to get any rhythm going I just found myself zipping full throttle everywhere trying to surf every wave I came across and find a wave that might provide the right face for a barrel roll or any other trick. Those 5 minutes flew by as I looked over and saw the yellow 2 minute warning flag raised and my stop watch reading 20 seconds shy of 5 minutes. I found myself in front of a large swell that I decided I would try to slash then possibly ride in. When I got to the wave little did I know time had ended and I hit the wave a little too late and found myself at the top of this 15 ft wave with my nose pitched down because I came in and turned too hard that my finger also got stuck holding the throttle wide open. I held on as hard as I could but I was slowly ripped off my ski and sucked down over the wave.
After I surfaced I found my ski not only upside down a few feet away but the motor was still stuck full throttle as well. I swam to my ski as quickly as I could fearing my new motor would seize, I got to my ski and flipped it over putting the pump in the water shutting the motor off because of the resistance. That was one small obstacle because now my ski was floating very nose heavy being ½ full of water. Before I could attempt to try and start the ski again a wall of white water hit me and my ski and violently thrashing me around separating me from my ski instantly again and holding me down for 10 seconds. When I thought I surfaced I was actually in a few inches of foam so when I took a breath I gulped down salty foam which made it harder to stay calm and breathe right. My ski was now completely full of water; I watched my ski bob up and down nose first before 2 more waves thrashed me. By the third wave and hold down I was really running out of air and energy to fight the foam to the surface. Fortunately the rescue crew spotted me so I could heave myself onto the rescue sled on the back and get brought to shore. I coughed up a bunch of salt water and caught my breath, but was overcome by frustration thinking that I was now out of the competition and wondering if I could get my ski back. I was told that I sank my ski after the time on my heat ran out because the judges scores came back I won that first heat. Ramon was a great opponent; there were no rivalries because we are all buddies.
The event was delayed for an entire hour because my ski was in the way of the event and the surf was so rough the rescue crew didn’t have enough time between waves to hook my ski and drag it in. When they finally were able to recover the ski I stopped my watch at 59 minutes and a few seconds shy of an hour. The rest of the day became a nightmare because the massive swell combined with the arriving high tide created random mini 1-2ft tsunamis that would race up the beach knocking skis off of beach totes, washing skis into vendor stands, sweeping people off their feet and almost sinking the judging stand. The final 2 amateur heats were delayed almost 2 hours because the event crew had to use the one big tractor they had to retreat the entire event farther and farther up the beach. The entire time this was happening I was under a booth trying to get my sunken ski started again with a low battery, water logged fuel, and those damn tsunamis that would catch me and friends who helped me off guard putting water back into my ski.
I ended up giving up and loading the ski onto the trailer so we could all abandon the main event site that was the high ground and now hit by a foot high surge every 15 minutes. Back at the house I quickly began working on my ski now that I was on dry land and in a lit garage. I was still in my wet suit, tired, hungry, cold, and beyond frustrated. I will never forget and will always thank Chris Burgess of Nacencey cinema for convincing me to stop working, go clean up and get dressed so we could go out and enjoy a good dinner, I could then come back, hammer down , and get my ski running. That advice really helped me unwind and allowed me to enjoy some of the night with friends and a good meal before I came back to work on my ski. We got back around 9pm and I didn’t get my ski running until 1am with the help of my good friend Zack Bright who stayed up and helped me out the entire time in that freezing garage.
The next day they scheduled only 2 rounds of the pro brackets so everyone could get out before the storm surge came back. Zack and I just ended up sitting in his truck with the heater on watching the pro heats and later helping them launch and pick up skis after the heats were over. Sunday morning the brackets were posted and my next opponent just had to be Zack Bright! Both of us were bumbed and pissed because we wanted to if anything face off in the finals. What made it worse is because of the event timing complications with the tide problem, whoever lost that round instantly won 4th and didn’t have a chance to ride again to go for third. That heat was by far the closest heat of the whole competition. I came out on top my a small point but just barely we both rode so hard It was such a frustrating feeling to be stoked that I won the heat but also pissed because my buddy couldn’t move onto the final rounds or ride again. Especially after we traveled so far to do this!
Before our final heat, I was watching the pro semi finals and ended up standing next to and taking to Jack Shelly the owner of WORX Racing components Australia, the home and foundation of WORX development and production. We were just discussing a few topics and he asked a few questions about myself and my riding career and I will never forget when we stopped talking for a minute watching a pro heat he turned to me and asked me how I would feel about being a WORX sponsored Freerider. I was overtaken by the gesture which for me was a huge honor being that I was at my first competition ever and haven’t even finished with any results yet! To this day I am thankful for Jack’s belief in my potential and support of WORX Racing Components.
The Final heat ended up being a 3 way head to head for 1st 2nd and 3rd. It was the top seats, Stanton High, Chris Rosner and Myself. The surf was the gnarliest during our 8 minute final heat. 10-20 foot waves were breaking everywhere, there was still no rhythm to made out there, I just remembered two things that I was told that made the biggest impact on my score out there. The first was the advice from Freeride Legend Randy Laine. Randy explained to me the value of surf riding in competitions and how it is best worked into scores how to ride in a way so judges and see you. The second lesson I learned listening to legendary power motosurfer Jeremy Brandon also known as JFB. I listened to him at one event where people asked how many back flips he would do. I never forgot when he said “forget going out there to do a certain amount of tricks, I just go out there and do what the waves tell me from where I am,” That was the best advice because during the final heat I just stayed heavy on the throttle moving fast surfing wave after wave after wave, not waiting any time waiting to line up to a good wave face to do a certain trick. As I was surfing around I would come across opportunities where a wave in front of me would present itself in a good position to do an aerial so I would do it, after that I kept moving. Without that advice I would not of been able to make sense of that washing machine of a surf break. Every time I came across Chris or Stan I would see them going huge off waves throwing big barrel rolls and especially stand throwing down back flips like no tomorrow. With the yellow flag up I had surfed as much as I could, I hit as many of the aerial tricks I knew I could pull off, it was time to nut up and go for the back flip because I had nothing to lose. With seconds to go in the last heat I came in front of a 15ft face. Every nerve in my body screamed no as far as running into a almost breaking 15 ft wall of water but I just crouched low and yelled as I death gripped the throttle and accelerated up the massive wave. I had to be ridiculously high because I hit the was super aggressive screaming to get over my nerves but didn’t think to use technique and kick my legs out and pull like you’re supposed to, so I went straight up and slowly rotated until I came down right on my face. It turns out that time had ended right when I landed on my head, any other day that would of rattled me big time but the amount of adrenaline flowing through my body over came any stars I was seeing to roll the ski over and get the hell back to shore before another wave could thrash me and my ski.
It was completely up in the air, we all rode super hard in the messy surf. Nothing but stories and stoke was passed between us seeing each other do certain tricks during the heat. We were all super stoked to have gone out and done it that we never held our breath for the results. We found out they were holding the results for the trophy podium at the end of the event. Right after that heat we watched Ross Champion face off against Mike Serlin who came out on top by some killer surf riding against high flying French rider Pierre Maxient. That final heat was nuts! Ross and Mike hit the same wave doing a cross over back flip. Mike hits it first going left doing a regular back flip then just a few beats later Ross blasts off the lip of the same wave going right doing a super flip. Ross rode a big wave in while Mike stuck to the inside sets legdraging as he was almost getting barreled in some waves. Both of them rode extremely well.
At the podium, Ross came out on top one step closer to his second world title, with Mike Serlin in second and Pierre in third. Stan ended up getting third, Chris got second, and I came out on top! 2009 Blowsion Surf Slam amateur champion! Huge thanks to all my sponsors and big thanks to my friends at PacSeal Hydraulics who made getting to this event and back financially possible. Thank you all for your support. World finals, a stop in Pismo, and Daytona Beach Freeride are around the corner!