If there was any doubt Orange County had the best young surfers in the nation, doubt no more.
The National Scholastic Surfing Assn. Championships were held last weekend at Salt Creek and O.C. schools dominated.
San Clemente won the boys' high school national championship, and was followed by No. 2 Newport Harbor, No. 3 Huntington Beach, No. 4 Kamehameha (Hawaii), No. 5 Edison, Nos. 6 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) and Melbourne (Florida), No. 8 Jupiter (Florida), No. 9 Marina and No. 10 Manasquan (New Jersey).
"This is a huge accomplishment for the team and me personally," Newport Harbor Coach Matt Burns said. "The first thing I told my team this year is 'We are here to win a national championship. We are more than capable but it will take hard work and determination to accomplish this.'
"Unfortunately, we came up short of that No. 1 spot to San Clemente, but to finish the year at No. 2 when competing against the best Hawaii, Florida, and California schools is great, too. We had numerous injuries in the beginning of the year, but we continued to work and were rewarded."
San Clemente's Trevor Thornton won the boys' high school individual national title, and other locals to finish in the top six were Newport Harbor's Colin Moran (third), Huntington Beach's Jack Boyes (fourth) and San Clemente's Ethan Carlston (sixth).
Newport Harbor's Shelby Detmers finished as the top local individual in the high school girls' division and she took second in the nation. San Clemente's Tia Blanco was third. In the high school longboard division, local kids swept the top five places — Edison's Jachin Hamborg won the national title and was followed by Huntington Beach's Tony Bartovich (second), Newport Harbor's Luke Rockwell (third), Marina's Tanner Martinez (fourth) and San Clemente's Casey Powell (fifth).
Huntington Beach won the junior varsity national title, and Dwyer took third in the middle school division. Other locals who won national championships in their respective divisions included John Elles of Huntington Beach (junior varsity boys), Maddie Gumbrecht of Marina (junior varsity girls), Gully Allee of Newport Harbor (junior varsity longboard) and Jeremy Guilmette of Dwyer (middle school longboard).
The race for the Assn. of Surfing Professionals world championship officially started back in February, but now that Kelly Slater has taken first place in a tour event for the first time this season, it's safe to say the race has truly begun.
Slater won the Volcom Fiji Pro last week in the fourth of the 10 ASP World Championship Tour and moved into second place in the points standings, behind leader Mick Fanning.
Slater is going for an unprecedented 12th world title at the age of 40, and last week in Fiji found himself matched up against someone who wasn't even born when Slater won his first in 1992.
Gabriel Medina, 18, faced off against Slater in the final heat at Fiji, having surfed pretty well the past couple of months. Medina won the Nike Lowers Pro at Trestles in early May, which included a $40,000 payday, and placed fifth in a Prime event in Brazil later in May.
Slater put the pressure on the youngster with two high-scoring waves early, an 8.33 and 9.83, but Medina put up an 8.60 to give himself a chance. Medina, though, could not nab another big score and Slater pulled off the victory, 18.16 to 10.87.
"It's about time I got him," Slater told aspworldtour.com. "He had my number in the back half of last year and he'll probably go on to beat everyone for the next 20 years. He can do it all and I think he proved that to a lot of people this week."
If there was any doubt Slater was in it to win it, it was erased in his semifinal heat against San Clemente'sC.J. Hobgoodwhen Slater pulled off another perfect 10, his third of the year, with a deep tube ride and big turns.
"That's probably the best I could surf out here," Slater said. "The barrel and the turn sections just lined up for me and I was able to do what I did. That was a perfect canvas for me."
Fanning lost to Medina in a semifinal heat and finished tied for third at Fiji, but the third-place points pushed him to the top of the overall rankings.
Fanning is a two-time ASP world champ, but he says he's not looking behind the next swell.
"At the moment, I'm not thinking about it," he said of the world title. "The way I look at it, I've got three results out of four. When it comes down to it, you want to finish the year with at least nine results. So that's three results I don't have to get now. I've got those ones in the kitty. It's all about making up the numbers."
There are 10 ASP World Championship Tour events, with the points standings calculated by adding up the points from each surfer's eight best results.
There is a two-month break before the next men's ASP World Championship Tour event, starting Aug. 16 in French Polynesia with the Billabong Pro Teahupoo.
JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at email@example.com.