By Eric Heinz
Relentless 5- to 7-foot waves provided sublime opportunities for surfers during the Volcom Totally Crustaceous Surf Tour Global Championships Tuesday through Friday at Lower Trestles at San Onofre State Beach.
Two San Clemente locals took home the gold, Kade Matson in the Grom division and Griffin Colapinto in the Pro-Am.
Colapinto was cool and collected as he seamlessly shredded continuous waves with large cuts and one crowd-amplifying feat with less than 3 minutes left in the final heat, which earned him a score of 19.66—a combination of his best two waves out of a single score of 10.
“I usually am always going for the biggest thing that I can on my free surfs, and once I had two 9s under my belt, I just wanted to free surf that last one,” Colapinto said. “I just did it, and it was sick.”
Colapinto took fourth in last year’s Volcom championships at Lowers.
“The waves were so good, and I knew if I could get on a good one I could do really well, so I just stayed calm and tried to catch the best waves,” he said.
Battling back from behind in the semifinals earlier in the day, Colapinto looked as though he’d be making an exit, sitting in third place behind Wesley Dantas of Brazil and Cam Richards of Garden City Beach, South Carolina. It wasn’t until Colapinto made an accentuated 360-degree turn off the top of a wave and plunged successfully into a foamy bed that he would solidify second place and into the final heat.
“I just kind of used a lot of core strength from my training to pull it off,” Colapinto said. “I was just kind of laying down (when landing) and I just pulled myself back up.”
Matson was stuck in an age group finals that had to sit through a rare, nearly 10-minute lull before putting together his best two performances to claim the title.
“I really just wanted to finish it because I knew I needed another good score because everybody just rips so hard out there, so I just tried to finish those last waves,” Matson said. “I knew there was going to be a good wave at some point, so I just waited and they just came.”
It was hard for the three visiting groms in the same heat, two from Hawaii and one from Japan, to unlock the secrets of Trestles in the finals, a break Matson has grown up surfing. Winning on his home surf was a great feeling, he said.
“It feels so good. It’s probably a wave I surf all the time and I’m just so stoked right now,” Matson said. “This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had at Lowers; it’s probably the best day of my life.”
The four-day week can be long for some, but Matson said he had everything under control the whole way.
“I just surfed it heat by heat, and I’m just happy to win here,” he said.
San Clemente surfer Kei Kobayashi was in the lead and visibly stoked after putting together a series of large turns during the Junior division finals heat, but he would eventually fall to third place after Samuel Pupo of Brazil, the winner, and second-place finisher Jake Marshall of San Diego cranked out their own last-minute aerial feats.
With less than a minute left, Kobayashi was poised to make one last effort on a wave that looked to be in his favor, but he lost his footing as he began to drop in.
Announcers at the event said some of the bigger waves on Thursday were around 10 feet, with 13 feet being the highest recorded at the event.
The Volcom tour field was comprised of surfers who had qualified for the championships in regions around the world, including South America, Australia and Japan.
- Griffin Colapinto, 2. Wesley Dantas, 3. Matt Passaquindici, 4. Jake Kelley
- Samuel Pupo, 2. Jake Marshall, 3. Kei Kobayashi, 4. Jordy Collins
- Kade Matson, 2. Eli Hanneman, 3. Robert Grillo, 4. Arashi Murata
- Kai Martin, 2. Kobi Clements, 3. Hayden Rodgers, 4. Joao Mendoca
- Brissa Hennessy, 2. Summer Macedo, 3. Kahanu Delovio, 4. Alyssa Spencer