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Greg Cruse, USA Surfing CEO congratulating his team at their Hapa J's award dinner on Feb. 7. Photo: Eric Heinz
(Left to Right) Greg Cruse, Surfing USA CEO, Andrea Swayne, Surfing USA President, Tory Gilkerson, Tony Skvarna, Rachael Tilly. Photo: Eric Heinz
Tony Skvarna, from San Juan Capistrano, addressing the crowd during their award dinner at Hapa J's on Feb., 7. Photo: Eric Heinz
By Daniel Ritz & Eric Heinz
Upon returning home from Riyue Bay, China, where they won a first-ever gold medal after running the table at the International Surf Association’s (ISA) World Longboard Championship, USA Surfing celebrated their local champions with a dinner at Hapa J’s in San Clemente.
At the event, San Clemente’s Tory Gilkerson, Dana Point’s Rachael Tilly and San Juan Capistrano’s Kevin Skvarna were honored by friends, family, coaches and surf-fans.
USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse made a heartfelt speech reflecting on the competitive spirit and work ethic of these local athletes.
Gilkerson, who won top honors in the women’s division, also gave a short presentation.
“This was certainly a trip we’ll never forget. I want to thank all of my teammates, and we want to thank everyone that supported us,” Gilkerson said.
Each of the three local South Orange County surfers credited the rich surf community and high-quality wave conditions for their rise to success. Tony Silvagni, from Florida, the fourth member of the gold winning quartet, was not in attendance.
San Clemente’s Colin McPhillips coached the ISA longboard team to gold in the World Championships and said that he would be excited to do it again.
“We didn’t get to see it on its best day, but that was a really, really good wave. This was an incredible experience. I will absolutely do this again if I’m asked and I hope they do!,” McPhillips said.
To read the full story of these local surfers historic victory, visit www.danapointtimes.com/golden-opportunity