NSSA regionals boost promise for nationals

The Jamba Juice NSSA Hawai‘i Tour came to an exciting conclusion for the 2005-06 season on Saturday, April 29 at Hale‘iwa’s Ali’i Beach Park. This was finals day with about 40 percent of the season’s points up for grabs and on the line during the Verizon Wireless Regional Championships. Mother Nature cooperated big time. 

After 40 days and nights of some of the wettest weather and flattest days on record, tradewinds blew a gentle 15 miles per hour, barely cooling us off from the warming temperatures. 

A clean spring swell from the northwest kept the surfers steaming hot all day long. 2-3 feet local size waves with some freak sets kept everyone honest and scrambling at times.

Regional championships always create a lot of tension because crowns, bragging rights, and a ton of points are at stake. 

Some stalwarts maintained their composure like Dusty Payne who not only captured the Open Men’s Final but also flew back home to Maui with a number one ranking for the season.

Paige Alms, another Maui wave rider captured first place in the Open Women’s final, nudging out Carissa Moore and Malia Manuel with her strong bottom turns and sweeping cutbacks. 

In the Open Boys Division Ezekiel Lau boosted himself over the pack with another first place finish while in a very competitive Open Junior final that saw a bevy of triangles; Levi Gonzales’ last wave barely boosted him ahead of Dylan Melamed leaving the pack in the dust as Levi paddled home to the Big Island with a beautiful koa trophy strapped to his leash. 

Little Kaioli Kahokuloa upset one of his Kaua‘i neighbors, the very talented Koa Smith while Nathan Rex and Benji Brand soared to first place finishes in the air show and mini air show respectively.  

In the Explorer Division, Kekoa Cazimero is buffing his first place trophy in the junior division by riding one of his patented left handers almost to the jetties, about 125 yards down the beach. 

John John Florence added more hardware to his trophy case with a first place finish in the boys division after landing countless floaters and steep deep angles with his every move.

Meanwhile Alex Smith (who surfed four finals on that day) smiled as wide as a whale with his first place trophy in the Explorer Mens division. In the Explorer Girls 14 and under, Kaua‘i’s Malia Manuel showed some excellent wave savvy squeaking past Carissa Moore. 

In the Explorer Menehune Division, Ezekiel Lau took down a strong challenge from Keanu Asing, Koa Smith, Kaikea Elias, Matty Costa, and Luke Hitchcock. Cedric Caires rode the nose to a first place victory in the longboard division, while Christian Budroe had two hands full of Masters and Seniors first place finishes.

In the super senior division it was Raymond Shito who reined supreme over another veteran, Brian Surrat.

A big mahalo must go out to Hawai‘i’s DLNR, which granted the NSSA Hawai‘i a permit to move the contest from Kewalo Basin on the south shore to Hale‘iwa where the waves and water conditions proved ideal.  The field of competitors is now set for the National Championships and our Hawai‘i surfers who had 10 of 16 first place finishes last year can only think of humbly sweeping the competition this June in San Clemente, Calif.

• Mia Melamed is an NSSA competitor based in Hanalei.

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