TURF: 5th Annual Kona Pro Jax Surf & Paddle Challenge Presented By Mellow Mushroom & Powered by VoidLive.com; Jacksonville Beach Pier, Jacksonville Beach, FL; September 28th-29th, 2013.
ENERGY: Solid chest to head-high nor’easter fueled surf was on tap throughout the contest weekend: think drift sessions, chunky bowls of soupy Duval goodness, and plenty of sections allowing some of the East Coast’s top talent the chance to duke it out for a piece of the $13,000 cash purse pie.
SLIDE: For five years running, this Jacksonville event has polished off the Rightside’s August/September contest leg. Whether it’s because of our East Coast talent pool running deeper as our veterans age like fine wine and our groms turn into full-blown rippers, or just the fact that everyone loves to surf and party in Jacksonville Beach, this year’s Kona Pro placed a big, bold exclamation point on the 2013 comp season.
The cast looked quite the same as the rest of this summer and fall’s events: Jacksonville rippers like Cody, Evan, and Tristan Thompson throwing their brotherly weight around; recent champs like Ryan Briggs and Asher Nolan making every heat draw a veritable slugfest; ex-World Tour standouts like Ben Bourgeois and Gabe Kling surfing lights outs; bright young stars like Evan and Eric Geiselman and Michael Dunphy savoring their East Coast roots; workhorses like Aaron Cormican, Jeremy Johnston, Kyle Garson doing their ever-consistent thing; and nearly grown-up groms like Chris Tucker, Noah Schweizer, Luke Marks, and Jake McGuire proving why they’ll be the next guard to rule competitive lineups for a decade to come. You may call that heats on repeat — we call it talent strong enough to wrap the whole surf world in its hardworking embrace.
The highlights? How about the second Men’s Pro semifinal, which featured Evan and Eric Geiselman squaring off against Evan and Cody Thompson? We’re 99.9% sure a stacked sibling heat like that has never gone down before — and surf fans lining the sand enjoyed every second of the rip-roaring, section-smashing, cutback-carving, punt-packing action. The two Evans took the narrow win over their big bros, with Geiselgrease The Younger eventually emerging victorious after notching the first perfect 10 in Kona Pro history. But the Thompson Tribe exacted its revenge in the form of youngest brother Tristan scalping the Flomotion Junior Pro final, his first big victory at the hallowed homebreak — on Tristan, Evan, and Cody’s mom’s 50th birthday no less.
Big props to Jay Dodson and his Void Live crew for spicing things up by including a TacoLu Women’s Pro division, won by local girl Piper Austin, along with SUP Race and Waveski Paddle Race divisions. While the chunky, hard-north conditions were optimal for surfing, the paddle-borne competitors found things to be a bit more challenging. But Ty Miller swept his way to victory in the SUP challenge, while Joey Civello won the Waveski paddle event.
THE PAIN: Jacksonville would have no doubt liked to put local surfers at the top of every category. But New Smyrna’s Evan Geiselman brought the one-two punch pain to Evan Thompson and Asher Nolan in Men’s Pro, preventing the Duval sweep. Assessing the Bold City’s winning streak in 2013 still reveals plenty to rave about: Cody Thompson’s 4-Star win in Puerto Rico; Sunrise Surf Shop’s Oakley Surf Shop Challenge National Championship win; Evan Thompson’s O’Neill/Sweetwater scalp and Asher Nolan’s WRV Pro domination in North Carolina; and Ryan Briggs’ Big Apple blowout at the Unsound Pro. That’s what we call a year to remember for one of our coast’s most talent-rich towns.
THE MAN: Other than Evan Geiselman winning with a smile on his face and a reaffirmed love of the East Coast, to which he recently moved back after spending a few years in California, this The Man award goes out to everyone. In addition to the surf contest, donations were collected throughout the weekend to benefit Melbourne Beach good guy Eddie Guilbeau, who’s been battling cancer for several months. Markus Heilman started things off by donating $100, followed by Kyle Garson, Jody Davis, and Cody Thompson adding their own contest earnings before Salt Life co-owner Greg Saig doubled down on the final tally to bring the total to $2,350 for Guilbeau's fund. Talk about solidarity: “This donation is a true testament of how tight-knit the North Florida surf community is,” said contest organizer/unofficial mayor of Jacksonville Beach Jay Dodson. “When someone in our circle is going through a rough time, it’s great to see the community respond to help in whatever way we can.”
YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB: “This year’s Kona Pro was the best turnout we’ve ever had. The weather was a little rough at first, but once the sun came out on Sunday, we were all rewarded with some great action in the water. The additions of SUP, Waveski, and Women’s Pro added to the unique diversity of the Kona Pro, which gave the photographers who lined the pier and spectators on the beach plenty of entertainment throughout the weekend.” –Proud papa Jay Dodson on watching his five-year-old contest grow
FINAL RESULTS OF THE 5th ANNUAL KONA PRO JAX:
KONA MENS PRO
1. Evan Geiselman, $3,000
3. Evan Thompson, $1,000
4. Asher Nolan, $800
|FLOMOTION JUNIOR PRO
1. Tristan Thompson, $500
2. Luke Marks, $300
3. Jake McGuire, $150
4. Chris Tucker, $50
TACOLU WOMENS PRO
1. Piper Austin, $300
2. Caroline Marks, $100
3. Tiffany Layton Oliser, $604. Mallory Turner, $40
1. Ty Miller, $600
2. Courtney Horasz, $300
|WAVESKI PADDLE RACE
1. Joey Civello, $300
2. Andy Morris, $150
3. Randy Taylor