ALL IMAGES - SEAN WOLFLICK @seanstermonsterr
We got to First Point right at the start of the holding period, which meant we would be essentially Lot Lizards for one entire week at California’s most sought-after pointbreak. Living off avocados, turkey wraps and red wine kept our expenses low- which we would end up appreciating since we racked up a total of three parking tickets during our seven day van-camping stint in the lot.
The sun would tease us a few times, but the weekdays leading up to the event were the quintissential June gloom- constantly overcast and indecisive about whether to be warm or chilly.
Throughout the week, the waves were providing! Nothing huge… but fairly consistent waist to chest high peelers. It was plenty of time and opportunity to get a proper feel for the wave and experiment with fin placements. Despite it being touted a perfect wave, knowledge here is key. If you can pick out the right set wave, you could be happily cruising seamlessly through the sections and end up far down the beach a stone’s throw from the pier. If not, you could end up getting closed out on and blow your chances.
By the end of the week, we were undeniably crusty and in need of a hot shower. Sometimes the best you could do is a dab of shampoo and a rinse-off using a gallon jug of water. A surplus of face and baby wipes also helps. *pro tip
With more friends and other invitees showing up, excitement grew. The long-anticapted and highly advertised Surf Relik was finally set to take place over the beautiful, sun-saturated weekend. The format of this event would be unique in that there would be start to finish man-on-man 40 minute long heats, overlapping.
I realized I’d be up against my van mate and good friend Roisin Carolan. In a one-on-one heat, the regular-footed shredder traveling from Byron Bay would have no problem getting long noserides, stick-straight tens, and well-timed drop knee turns. Alas, my surfing did not seem to meet the particular criteria and I was truthfully dissapointed that my first & final heat of the entire event had to be against my homie!
Kevin Skvarna, a SanO local and our talented teamrider, pulled out quite a few tricks, including stylish turns and criticial switch noserides… however he lost out to Eduardo Delperro, who would go on to place second in the Men’s Division. David Arganda also showcased an amazing display of back-breaking arched tens, power and flow. But he too couldn’t get the scores needed. Roisin was bumped out in her second round after a close match with Justine Mauvin, a talented logger from France… she actually landed a second place finish in last year’s Relik. Nathan Strom was paired up against Tyler Warren, another close match. Tyler secured the first round win… the highlight I’d say- his two flawless hang heels on at least a minute-long wave. Jen Smith was another female standout, riding the biggest sets with her signature style and crazy long noserides, combined with steezy, carving turns. Unfortunately, she also got bumped out of competition by Soleil Erricson, who would go on to win the entire Women’s Division.
Getting knocked out early does have it’s perks. One being that all the tension and nerves dissolve. You can also dedicate the remainder of the event to rooting on other friends and are free to enjoy day-time cocktails. Fairly few traditionalists would make it past their second or third round. Arguably the world’s very best loggers were getting knocked out left and right. Day 1 was coming to a close and it became glaringly apparent that the judging criteria preferred the “modern” approach, despite earlier claims of embracing and rewarding a traditonal style. “Ride what you like”… but maybe at your own risk ;)
Day 2 was shaping up to be pretty much identical condition-wise to the previous day, but with quite a bit more pumping and tail surfing. There were certainly a few upsets that took place that day. Including Malibu local and previous champ, Chad Marshall falling out of the competition earlier than one would have expected. Jared Mell and Tyler Warren also surfed with their usual ease and confidence, but couldn’t swing it into the final rounds. Andy Nieblas, our hometown hero, creative and unpredictable approach was without doubt one of the most entertaining to watch, but he too fell short of making it on. Of all the highly-talented taditionalists, Harrison Roach from Australia made it the furthest, landing a very impressive third place.
By the end of this final day, it was down to two women and two men battling for the win. But when all four are guaranteed to go home with at least $7,000, everyone’s a winner. Soleil the local girl and recent WSL Taiwain champ, versus Brazilian Chloe Calmon, clearly no stranger to the podium and making it far in competition. Soleil had been surfing undeniably well throughout, and her rides got the higher scores over Chloe. I was very impressed to see Chloe ride a single fin in the final heat and could empathize with the challenge of surfing this wave backside, especially against someone with such a developed knowledge of the wave. An unusual lack of waves in the Women’s Final was also problematic.
The mens final was down to two high performance surfers. Eduardo Delperro had a cat-like style and seemed to hit all the criteria of earning himself top scores. Yet the judges deemed Taylor Jensen the winner for this year's Men’s division. Jensen was generous on the podium, and offered his contentder half of his winnings, meaning Delperro would go home with an additional 7k.
All in all, it was an interesting showcase of where we’ve come, whatever boards we choose to ride. And it re-instilled the importance of following your passion, developing your own approach and just surfing the way you prefer! I think the invitees can be confident that they surfed the best they possibly could and made some money while doing it. Most importantly, they should feel proud about their display of style and ever-evolving technique… whether or not it gets “the score”.