2016 ASF Championships

November 18, 2016 • East Coast Contests

Story by Jason Hoover; Captions by Dick “Mez” Meseroll

WHAT: 2016 ASF Championships

WHO: Atlantic Surfing Federation members from New Jersey to Florida

WHEN: Originally scheduled for October but Hurricane Matthew had other plans, so the contest took place November 11th-13th, 2016

WHERE: First Peak, Sebastian Inlet, Florida

WHY: Because groms and grown-ups from New Jersey to Florida surfed hard and consistent all season long to earn a trip to the annual championship event of the Atlantic Surfing Federation. ASF Director Phil Jackson and crew had a huge challenge thrown down on them when Hurricane Matthew decided to hit the Florida area just days before the beginning of the organization’s annual championship event. Without missing a beat, they immediately locked in new dates for the contest and accompanying activities and did an excellent job of communicating with participants to ensure a smooth transition.

All of their hard work paid off when the first morning of competition began, as competitors and their families arrived to the historical surf spot and were greeted with sunny skies and clean two- to three-foot surf. Day one highlights included Mike Rosa claiming the Masters division title and Scott Bradley claiming the Legends title, while Paul Martin celebrated his birthday with a win in the Senior Men’s Longboard semifinal. On Saturday, the show kicked off with the groms getting their chance to shine, and with CJ Hobgood in attendance they went for it! In the team challenge, which was equal parts comedy show and top-notch surfing, the Body Bag Boys squad of Ben Gravy and Aaron Cormican took the win over Pete Mendia and Phil Jackson, with Matt Kechele and Randy Nolan coming in 3rd. Saturday night was the ASF party hosted by Sun Bum at their house in Cocoa Beach, where the competitors and their families were treated to pizza, ping pong, and other games.

Kepa Mendia ASF Championships

Kepa Mendia has been coming to Sebastian Inlet since he was literally in the womb, tagging along with pops Pete Mendia and mom Ali for freesurfs and pro events. Now young Kepa is starting to make his mark by charging like his dad, taking out the Boys/Girls U10 division at the 2016 ASF Championships. Photo: Dugan

Christian Daniels. Photo: Mez

Another second generation surfer in attendance, Christian Daniels has shaper dad Tommy Daniels of NXTC Surfboards to help guide him along the singlet circuit and put great boards under his feet — one of which took him to a 3rd-place finish in the Boys U18 final. Photo: Mez

Zoe Benedetto. Photo: Dugan

Zoe Benedetto showing great form and promise this year, pulling a two-fer with victories in the Girls U12 and U16 divisions. Zoe nearly pulled a hat trick, narrowly missing another 1st in Girls U14 by finishing 2nd to on-fire Coral Schuster. Photo: Dugan

Zoe Benedetto. Photo: Mez

Zoe gets her well-deserved chair up the beach. Photo: Mez

The waves held up all weekend long until Sunday morning when Phil Jackson and head judge Chip Hall walked down the path leading to the beach and were crestfallen to see a barely rideable wave greeting them on finals day. After a quick discussion, they decided to go on a brief 20-minute delay to see if conditions would turn for the better, and thankfully their wishes were granted as the surf picked up and the weather heated up to become the hottest day of the weekend. The surfing on finals day also heated up with a 9.17 by William Hedleston to claim the Nixon Supertide Watch Top Wave prize. Other highlights included Chase Modelski earning titles in Boys U16 and Open Shortboard, in addition to a 2nd-place finish in Boys U18. He also caught a bunch of snook in between his heats!

ASF Championships trophies

Hard fought for hardware awaiting the hands of their worthy victors. Photo: Dugan

Sneak peek. Photo: Mez

Sneak peek. Photo: Mez

Kanoa Wong. Photo: Dugan

Virginia Beach’s Kanoa Wong, three fins firing in Third Peak lefts on his way to a 3rd-place finish in Boys U12. Photo: Dugan

Sterling Makish. Photo: Mez

Grommie Sterling Makish sure has a lot of big-boy torque loaded up in that very un-grom-like backside bottom turn, which helped earn him 2nd in Boys U12. Photo: Mez

Thomas Cook. Photo: Mez

Legends competitor Tom Cook bouncing off a classic wedging Inlet refraction on his way to a well-done 2nd-place finish. Photo: Mez

Tyson Royston’s hard work paid off with a victory in Boys U18, while Zoe Benedetto proved once again that she is one to watch in the future, as she has now won every u12 girls’ ASF heat and championship for 2 consecutive seasons, she also claimed the u16 title, and came in 2nd in u14.  This event was a huge personal victory for Zoe, who overcame nearly losing her her ear back in June in a freak duck-diving accident in massive surf at Upper Trestles during the Surfing America Championships. The Virginia and South Carolina Chapters proved they can compete in the Florida surf, with all four Virginians, including 3 VLF members, surfing in their respective finals, and the Village Surf Shoppe team had their share of podium visits too!  

Tyson Royston. Photo: Mez

One of the most in-form competitors of the 2016 ASF Championships, Tyson Royston’s super strong power moves off the top and deep slashing carves earned him 1st-place in the marquee Boys U18 division, as well as a solid result of 3rd in U16. This kid had a great contest. Photo: Mez

Tyson Royston. Photo: Mez

Have a seat, Mr. Royston — you certainly earned it. Photo: Mez

Phil Jackson was thankful for the army of volunteers and sponsors who helped him pull this year’s event off, including beach marshals Denny and Terry Green and Ben Gravy working the commentary to keep the crowd pumped all weekend. Phil also mentioned his personal highlights of the weekend included watching the Adaptive Surfing competitors along with Kelly Richards and the other volunteers charging hard in some sizable surf. All involved had huge smiles and the crowd roared with excitement at each wave that was ridden! At the awards ceremony, a touching moment of silence was given to honor recently departed Mike Martin, who made such a positive impact on many lives in the surfing world. With so much action and fun packed into the weekend, competitors are ready to get back to work to earn another championship trip next season!

Phil Jackson, ASF Executive Director. Photo: Mez

ASF Director Phil Jackson should be smiling after Hurricane Matthew forced the ASF to cancel its original championships date and reschedule several weeks later. Luckily, Brevard County and Sebastian Inlet went unscathed from the storm’s Cat 4 fury as it brushed the coast, and the contest ran in beautiful fall weather with plenty of surf for all three days. Photo: Mez

Reid Largin. Photo: Dugan

There was plenty of hotly contested surf action in the water as Reid Largin takes it all the way to the beach on his way to a 2nd-place finish in Boys U16, while on the beach… Photo: Dugan

Trip Freeman. Photo: Dugan

Trip Freeman loads up on a huge haul of free bait he netted, and… Photo: Dugan

Aaron Cormican and Tommy Coleman. Photos: Mez and Dugan

Aaron Cormican and Tommy Coleman land a couple of almost keepers. Sometimes it was hard to tell if we had a surf contest going on or a snook fishing tournament with many of the competitors swapping surfboards and singlets for poles and finger mullet between heats. Photos: Mez and Dugan

FINAL RESULTS OF THE 2016 ASF CHAMPIONSHIPS:

BOYS/GIRLS U10

1. KEPA MENDIA

2. BRAEDEN KOPEC

3. MAKO MUSILUNAS

4. PALLADIN PELLICCIA

Braeden Kopec. Photo: Dugan

Braeden Kopec is a ball of grom stoke with a ton of potential at such a tender age. He took home 2nd-place in the Boys/Girls U10 division. Photo: Dugan

Coral Schuster. Photo: Dugan

Girls U14 winner Coral Schuster had a huge catch of her own, landing 1st-place. We’re pretty sure Cory would much rather have that beautiful silver trophy on her mantle than a stuffed snook hanging on the wall. Photo: Dugan

BOYS U14 LONGBOARD

1. MACK WILLIAMS

2. FICHER McCLAIN

3. MAKO MUSILUNAS

4. GAGE JACKSON

5. AJ JACKSON

BOYS U18 LONGBOARD 

1. SEAN BRENNAN

2. TRISTON FINLEY

3. GAVIN SILVER

4. STANTON McDUFFIE

Sean Brennan. Photo: Mez

Boys U18 Longboard winner Sean Brennan’s deft tip work on the wave that sealed the deal for one of the event’s most hotly contested heats, either on long or shortboards. Photo: Mez

Sean Brennan. Photo: Dugan

Brennan takes the chair and the trophy. Photo: Dugan

BOYS U12

1. WILLIAM HEDLESTON

2. STERLING MAKISH

3. KANOA WONG

4. CHARLES OBLINGER

BOYS U14 

1. WILLIAM HEDLESTON

2. STERLING MAKISH

3. LOGAN HOFFSTETTER

4. REID LARGIN

BOYS U16

1. CHASE MODELSKI

2. REID LARGIN

3. TYSON ROYSTON

4. SHAWN ARTHUR, JR

BOYS U18

1. TYSON ROYSTON

2. CHASE MODELSKI

3. CHRISTIAN DANIELS

4. SHAWN ARTHUR, JR

DIRECTOR/PRO SUPER HEAT

1. BEN GRAVY/AARON CORMICAN

2. PHIL JACKSON/PETER MENDIA

3. MATT KECHELE/RANDY NOLAN

ASF Championships. Photo: Dugan

We all had to wait a few extra weeks to get the event under way post-Hurricane Matthew, but it was totally worth it! Photo: Dugan

Directors/Pros Super Heat. Photo: Dugan

The Directors/Pros team heat about to hit the water and light the joint up! Pete Mendia, Matt Kechele, Aaron Cormican, Randy Nolan, Ben “Gravy” Graeff, and Phil Jackson no doubt put on the most entertaining heat of the three-day affair and should be a staple of future championship events. Photo: Dugan

Aaron Cormican. Photo: Mez

Aaron Cormican took to the air on his own AC Shapes — the Inlet is made for his style of uncorked airs — and he had the crowd on the beach going nuckin’ futz. Photo: Mez

Matt Kechele. Photo: Mez

Nobody on Earth has logged more water time at Sebastian Inlet than Matt Kechele. Over the past 40-plus years, few have ridden it better nor understood the nuances of every sandbar from First Peak to Chernobyls like this legend’s legend. Photo: Mez

Ben Gravy & Aaron Cormican. Photo: Dugan

Directors/Pros heat winners and “Team Body Bag” Ben Gravy and Aaron “Gorkin” Cormican. Photo: Dugan

Sebastian Inlet State Park rangers. Photo: Mez

The friendly Southern vibe at Sebastian Inlet is a tone set by the the forever smiling and helpful park rangers who keep it clean, are always helpful, and genuinely seem to be stoked on surfers and surfing. Next time you run into one of these cats, say hello and tell them thanks — they deserve it. Photo: Mez

Zoe Benedetto. Photo: Mez

Beautiful sunny skies, low humidity and air temps, light winds, warm, blue-green water, glassy waves in the three- to four-foot range for the entire event (if not bigger some days), and young rippers like Zoe Benedetto killing it made for three days of conditions you absolutely pray for if you are a contest organizer, a competitor, or even a photographer. Photo: Mez

GIRLS U12 

1. ZOE BENEDETTO

2. BREE SMITH

3. SOPHIA KALANTAS

4. AUBREY PRESTI

GIRLS U14

1. CORAL SCHUSTER

2. ZOE BENEDETTO

3. TAYLOR GREEN

4. HANNAH WALTMAN

GIRLS U16

1. ZOE BENEDETTO

2. MADDIE MALIZIA

3. HANNA WALTMAN

4. RACHEL WILSON

GIRLS U18 

1. MADDIE MALIZIA

2. CORAL SCHUSTER

3. HANNAH WALTMAN

4. MADDIE ZUELI

5. RACHEL WILSON

GIRLS U18 LONGBOARD

1. MADDIE MALIZIA

2. RACHEL WILSON

3. CAMDEN HOOVER

4. ASHLEY KLIENSMITH

Maddie Malizia. Photo: Dugan

Girls U18 champion Maddie Malizia is simply a force to be reckoned with — no one on the women’s side could match her power or moves. Photo: Dugan

Maddie Zeuli. Photo: Dugan

Maddie Zeuli killed it on her way to a 4th-place finish in the Girls U18 division. Photo: Dugan

MENS 

1. TANNER CAULK

2. IAN SCHAFFER

MASTERS 

1. MIKE ROSA

2. MATT LEE

3. PHIL JACKSON

Mike Rosa. Photo: Mez

The stylish and masterful Masters winner Mike Rosa in a repeat performance of last year’s 1st-place victory. Photo: Mez

Phil Jackson. Photo: Mez

ASF Director Phil Jackson takes a break from being a scaffolding dweller to compete in both the Masters tilt and the Directors/Pros Super Heat. Photo: Mez

SENIOR MENS

1. BRAD BAILEY

2. MIK MUSILUNAS

3. SHAWN ARTHUR, SR

4. DAVID ROLL

LEGENDS 

1. SCOTT BRADLEY

2. THOMAS COOK

3. WILTON JORDAN

4. BRYCE FRANCIS

WOMEN

1. SOLOME ABERGER

2. TERRY GREEN

3. VIVIAN JORDAN

Terry Green. Photo: Mez

Terry Green on her way to a great result with a 2nd-place finish in the Women’s final. Photo: Mez

OPEN MENS

1. CHASE MODELSKI

2. JAKE HEMBREE

3. TREVOR FRANCIS

4. TRISTON FINLEY

Chase Modelski. Photo: Dugan

The in-form, standout surfer of the event was Chase Modelski, who won the marquee Boys U16 bracket and was just nipped out of 1st by an equally on-fire Tyson Royston in U18, two of most hotly contested finals with the two trading punches from one horn to the other. Photo: Dugan

Chase Modelski. Photos: Mez

A Crossfire view from up the beach of the previous photo of Chase Modelski’s huge boost a la shaper/mentor/coach Aaron Cormican, who along with Tommy Coleman helped chair his young charge up the beach with one big shittake-eating grin on his face. Photos: Mez

ADAPTIVE ASSIST

1. VERONICA TARIO

2. BROCK JOHNSON

3. CC ROBERTS

4. ERNIE JOHNSON

ADAPTIVE TANDEM

1. TERRELL RAWSON

ADAPTIVE PRONE

1. JEFF RADVANSKI

Terrell Rawson. Photo: Mez

It was amazing to watch with unbridled joy as physically challenged surfers like Myrtle Beach, SC’s, Terrell Rawson competed with as much stoke as anyone in the Adaptive Tandem heat on his way to a 1st-place win. Definitely the most inspiring, emotional heats of the day. Heroes. Photo: Mez

Terrell Rawson and Veronica Tario. Photos: Jason Hoover

(Left) Terrell Rawson, Adaptive Tandem champ, and (right) Veronica Tario, winner of the Adaptive Assist final. Photos: Jason Hoover

Brock Johnson. Photo: Mez

U.S.A. team member from Myrtle Beach, SC, Brock Johnson absolutely charged this beautiful, bouncing Second Peak wedge on his way to 2nd-place in the Adaptive Assist finals. Photo: Mez

NIXON HIGH WAVE SCORE OF THE EVENT

WILLIAM HEDDLETSON 9.17

William Hedleston. Photo: Dugan

Grom William Hedleston’s 9.17 ride not only earned him the Nixon High Wave Score of the event and a sweet $400 watch but vaulted him to a 1st-place finish in Boys U14. Not too shabby for a kid who’s not even shaving yet. Photo: Dugan

William Hedleston. Photo: Dugan

Looks like Boys U14 winner William Hedleston’s wrists are going to get a little crowded with the new Nixon timepiece he’s going to add to his collection. Photo: Dugan

Randy Nolan. Photo: Mez

Randy Nolan was technically in the Directors/Pros special heat as a “director,” but do not be fooled — he is one of the best power surfers to ever come out of the East Coast and totally feared when you you drew him in heat in his pro-am days. Photo: Mez

Super Moon at ASF Championships. Photo: Mez

A super three-day weekend, a super contest, some super surfing, and a striking Super Moon rising over Sebastian Inlet’s south jetty to put an exclamation point on things. A big round of applause goes out to everyone who made the 2016 ASF Championships possible. Photo: Mez

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