Kaua‘i’s 30th annual Pine Trees Longboard Classic debuts ‘ohana division

Mother nature once again served a healthy dose of waves for all the contestants in this 30th annual Pine Trees Longboard Classic. On Saturday, the currents played havoc with the longboarders, as many waves and sets proved steep and difficult to ride. The only casualty during the contest on Saturday was Nage Melamed whose longboard snapped cleanly in half following a late drop on a rancid lefthander.

Her body, however, remained intact as she rode to the beach on a half board and paddled out on a borrowed surfboard and was able to advance to the finals after catching one last wave at the sound of the horn.

As the swell diminished on Sunday, the competitors made some vital adjustments and tip riding and headstands came into play.

A new ‘ohana competition was introduced this year with immediate family members able to create two-person teams. They then rode waves, claimed the ones they wanted to have scored and then let their team partner take over and do the same. This created for some fun, excitement, tension and strategy. When all was said and done the Lopez brothers, Garrick and Joe, paddled off with the ‘ohana first-place trophy in a spirited heat that featured many father/daughter, long-lost cousin combinations and sister acts.

For the individual competitions, first-place finishers in respective divisions in the finals included Tatiana Weston-Webb in the Menehune division.

She was effortless on the plank doing spinners, tip rides and backside bottom turns through some critical sections.

In the Boys 13- to 17-year-old division, Dylan Melamed captured first place while also creating lots of thrills. He came closest to coming out of a super-set barrel during his Saturday final only to have it collapse around him, making for a most exciting wipeout.

His initial waves of the heat provided enough points to not just capture first place, but he also drove home with a brand new grand prize longboard in the random drawing among first place finishers during the award ceremony.

In the Girls 13 to 17 division, it was Dylan’s sister Nage and Erika Steiner trading off set waves, tip rides and slashbacks on some bigger boards and bigger sets.

In the end, it was Steiner’s headstand and cockroached coffin maneuver, a trick that few surfers can do on one wave that put her in first place for the day along with a beautiful trophy.

In the Junior division, Boi Ishiki maintained his graceful style and power on both days and nosed out a solid group of finalists as he chose to ride the lefts at the “retro” sandbar.

In the Junior Women’s division Leah Sausen was leading the 20 minute final with about five minutes remaining.

Then Mia Melamed streaked across a set wave lefthander, negotiated a steep blast off the top and rode it to shore.

This high-scoring wave along with a small right-handed nose ride at the close of the heat provided enough impetus to capture first place over Sausen, whose Tahitian halau performed in a spirited and celebrated fashion before the awards ceremony and grand prize drawings.

In the Junior Men’s final, most of the surfers were actually shortboard, high-end performers who made the switch and rode longboards for the day.

Ammion Goodwin, a barrel- charging reef rider, played with the sandbar and mounting sections.

He showed some excellent wave choices and was the winner over Kanaloa Hermosura, Scooter Sagum, Keo McBride, Kaleo Kaden and the very talented Stephen McCarthy.

The Women 35 and Over final featured Hiroyo Baker’s first-ever contest and win as this final was held in the rough and tumble waves of Saturday, that proved most challenging to all.

The Men’s Final featured Mark Machetti flying in from New Zealand the day before the contest, and surfing in some much warmer conditions. Feeling at home at Pine Trees, Machetti made his moves and made away with a first place trophy.

The Masters division belonged to the master himself, Bobby Cocke, who has more titles in this event than anyone.

He maintained his dominance over a tough crowd in the final that featured Les Tabuchi, Austin Owen, Joe Lopez, whose switch stance and power turns had everyone up in arms, Russel Lewis, who managed a tuck and a head dip on virtually every wave and Martin Kramer.

In the Legends division, Mike Smith took down Mike Young whose new CD was featured during the event, Garrick Lopez, Mark Angel, Abraham Huddy and Craig Balmores. Smith’s slices, arching turns and parallel stance dominated when it counted.

The weather was perfect, the water conditions and winds varied just enough to keep things ridable, and the sponsor support was immense as each finalist got to shop from an array of merchandise in the prize tent following the contest.

A special recognition and remembrance was made by Louise Sausen before the contest began as she blessed the event and dedicated it to Mick Callahan and Keoni Lucas, two of Kaua‘i’s North Shore natives that have supported the lifestyle and sport and whose lives were shortened most recently.

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