Surfing America Prime held its East Coast season opener on Saturday, September 29th at Revel Beach in Atlantic City, NJ, and lucked out again on conditions, as a nice, peaky two– to three-foot windswell filled in Friday afternoon just as PacSun USA Surf Team Coach Ryan Simmons began his free coaching clinic. The East Coast kids showed up in force, with over 25 groms lined up to take advantage of Coach Simmon’s wealth of knowledge. Later on Friday afternoon, some of the Surfing America Prime athletes even gave free lessons to underprivileged kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City courtesy of Tom Forkin and his AC Surf School.
The venue at Revel Beach could not have been better, with a wide sandy beach and the impressive Revel Resort serving as a dramatic background. Most importantly, there was a nice sand bar sculpting fun wedges out of the small windswell. With the forecast calling for near flat conditions on Sunday, the contest powered through more than ten hours of heats on Saturday to wrap everything up while the surf was cooperating. The best Under-18 surfers on the East Coast definitely knew what to do with the conditions, finding the speed lines and milking every last bit of energy out of the small conditions to put on an impressive show. There were some amazingly lofty airs chucked that day as well.
North Carolina’s Knox Harris has been on a competitive tear this fall, and the streak continued with a dominating performance in the Boys Under-18 division. Knox was surfing fast and light and won the final with two waves in the excellent range for a combined heat total of 16.70, the highest of the entire Boys Under-18 division. In Girls Under-18, it was a seesaw battle between South Carolina’s Emory McClary and New Jersey’s Maddie Peterson. Emory’s last two waves of 6.33 and 5.77 sealed the deal, and she took the win in both Girls Under-18 and Girls Under-16, with Maddie Peterson finishing runner-up in both divisions.
The Boys Under-16 division was as tight as could be, with South Carolina’s Luke Gordon and Addison Miles, and Florida’s Luke Marks and Chris O’Donnell each blowing up in the preliminary rounds to square off in the final. O’Donnell took the win with several scores in the “good” range, holding off Luke Gordon and Luke Marks by a narrow 0.73 margin. Luke Gordon made the finals in Boys Under-14, Under-16, and Under-18, surfing 9 heats and 71 waves in the grueling 10-hour day. He definitely gets the Iron Man Award. In the Boys Under-14 division, North Carolina’s Stevie Pittman posted an 8.00 ride and followed it with a 6.23 second-wave score to secure 1st-place. Florida’s Tommy Coleman was flaring all day and opened fast in the final with his first two waves scoring 7.23 and 6.27. But he was unable to pass Pittman and finished a respectable 2nd, followed by Luke Gordon and Florida’s Jaric Fink.
Next up for the East Coast Prime series is New Smyrna Beach this coming March. East Coast surfers qualify for the Prime series through participation in Surfing America member organizations like the Atlantic Surfing Federation and National Scholastic Surfing Association. The top two out of three event scores determines slots in the Surfing America USA Championships at Lower Trestles, San Onofre State Beach, CA, in June and possible slots onto the PacSun USA Surf Team.