2017 NSSA East Coast Championships

April 6, 2017 • East Coast Contests

Written by Janice Aragon; All captions by Tom Dugan — New Smyrna Beach delivered on March 30th – April 2nd for the 2017 NSSA East Coast Championships. The waves were fun and consistent throughout the entire four-day event with scattered chest- to head-high peaks and a variety of ocean conditions ranging from hot and glassy to windchop. All the kids were shredding, as the following photos and results prove!

nssa east coast championships

Over four days of this year’s NSSA East Coast Championships, New Smyrna Beach once again produced very contestable waves. The wind was offshore most of the day and waves stayed in the head-high range making for some great surfing and high-scoring heats. Photo: Dugan

Rachel Presti was on fire this year, earning 4th in Explorer Women’s and 2nd in Open Girls while also adding two more titles to her resumé with a 1st in Explorer Girls and a 1st in Open Women’s. She also posted the highest score of the day on April 1st, picking up $100 from Grom Social for her efforts. Photo: Dugan


1. Rachel Presti-Melbourne Beach, FL 12.33

2. Caroline Marks-Melbourne Beach, FL 10.50

3. Nicole Fulford-Sanford, FL 10.24

4. Sophie Falzone-Atlantic Beach, FL 5.37

No better feeling than getting chaired up the beach and claiming your “Numero Uno,” as Rachel Presti did twice. Photo: Dugan


1. Gabriel Morvil-Wrightsville Beach, NC 14.50

2. Blake Speir-Melbourne Beach, FL 14.26

3. Bo Raynor-Wilmington, NC 13.80

4. Chase Modelski-Juno Beach, FL 12.03

To the winner goes the gold. Photo: Dugan

Wrightsville Beach, NC’s, Gabe Morvil was on a tear throughout the four-day event. Gabe constantly pushed his surfing as hard as he could — some waves he blew, some he made, and those he made paid off with two titles to take home: a 1st in Open Men’s and a 1st in Explorer Juniors. Photo: Dugan

The lifeguards would close down the beach each day at hight tide saying there was too much soft sand to drive on, so it was in everyone’s best interest to get there early and post up for the day. As you can see, there were not many parking spots left as the tide ebbed daily. Photo: Dugan

Gabe Morvil, NSSA Executive Director Janice Aragon, and Rachel Presti show off their trophies and their smiles. Photo: Jason Obenauer


1. Zander Venezia-Lion Castle, Barbados 14.34

2. Blake Speir-Melbourne Beach, FL 12.77

3. Owen Moss-Wrightsville Beach, NC 11.30

4. Laird Myers-Virginia Beach, VA 10.80

The person who traveled the farthest? Zander Venezia from Barbados. He ended up winning Open Juniors while finishing 2nd in Explorer Juniors and 3rd in Explorer Men’s. Zander surfed extremely well throughout the event and during freesurfs, turning some heads for sure. Looks like there’s a new kid in town (and he’s from an island). Photo: Asher Nolan


1. Owen Moss-Wrightsville Beach, NC 16.66

2. Blayr Barton-Virginia Beach, VA 11.00

3. Carl Burger-Palm Coast 8.23

4. Sterling Makish-Deerfield Beach, FL 6.80


1. Braeden Kopec-Flagler Beach, FL 13.67

2. Benji Lange-St. Augustine, FL 10.16

3. Ethan Harbinson-New Smyrna Beach, FL 8.33

4. Kepa Mendia-West Palm Beach, FL 6.87

The most interesting grom in the world, Braeden Kopec, has shown much improvement in his overall surfing and is starting to get a few titles to put on his resumé. He placed 2nd in Explorer Super Groms behind Kepa Mendia but was able to put it all together to get a 1st in Open Mini Groms. Photo: Dugan

With so many groms surfing at a higher level, it takes a much better surfer to move forward and make finals. Benji Lange ended up 2nd in the Open Mini Groms, proving that practice makes perfect. Photo: Dugan


1. Caroline Marks-Melbourne Beach, FL 14.50

2. Rachel Presti-Melbourne Beach, FL 13.00

3. Eden Lange-St. Augustine, FL 6.90

4. Audrey Presti-Melbourne Beach, FL 6.53

Caroline Marks took home five trophies on Sunday: three 1st-places in Open Girls, Explorer Women’s, and High School Women’s, along with a 2nd in Open Women’s and a 3rd in Explorer Girls. Photo: Dugan


1-Ava McGowan-New Smyrna Beach 15.83

2. Zoe Benedetto-Jensen Beach, FL 9.34

3. Bree Smith-Merritt Island, FL 7.84

4. Audrey Presti-Melbourne Beach, FL 5.33


1. Trip Chandler-Pawleys Island, SC 13.33

2. Spencer Bridges-Summit, NJ 10.83

3. Trelane McLaughlin-Atlantic Beach, FL 4.37



1. Evan Brownell-St. Augustine, FL 16.50

2. Jude Clark-Manasquan, NJ 12.26

3. Zander Venezia-Lion Castle, Barbados 11.80

4. Spencer Bridges-Summitt, NJ 10.77

5. Logan Hofstetter-Cocoa Beach, FL 9.90

6. Seth Brown-Pawleys Island, SC 5.27

Although he’s from St. Augustine, Evan Brownell knows New Smyrna’s shifty peaks well and used that to his advantage to grab a 1st in Explorer Mens with a heat total of 16.50 and a 5th in Explorer Juniors. Photo: Dugan

Cocoa Beach’s Logan Hofstetter earned a 5th-place Explorer Men’s trophy to take home by dropping textbook snaps like this. Photo: Dugan


1. Gabriel Morvil-Wrightsville Beach, NC 15.20

2. Zander Venezia-Lion Castle, Barbados 13.90

3. Chase Modelski-Juno Beach, FL 13.06

4. Christian Mocny-New Smyrna Beach, FL 12.87

5. Evan Brownell-St. Augustine, FL 12.37

6. Seth Brown-Pawleys Island, SC 8.10

South Florida’s Chase Modelski had a great run over the weekend at the NSSA East Coast Championships. He started out as the top surfer on opening day, netting $100 from sponsor Grom Social, then backed it up with a 1st in High School Men’s, 3rd in Explorer Juniors, 4th in Open Men’s, and 3rd in the Air Show. Photo: Dugan


1. Laird Myers-Virginia Beach, VA 14.20

2. Blayr Barton-Virginia Beach, VA 13.83

3. Blake Speir-Melbourne Beach, FL 13.17

4. Noah Brownell-St. Augustine, FL 6.93

5. Owen O’Donnell-West Islip, NY 4.33 (tiebreak)

6. Ben Wingate-New Smyrna Beach, FL 4.33 (tiebreak)


1. Sterling Makish-Deerfield Beach, FL 13.93

2. Blayr Barton-Virginia Beach, VA 12.90

3. Seamus Carey-Atlantic City, NJ 12.74

4. Ryan Huckabee-Flagler Beach 12.04

5. William Hedleston-Cocoa Beach, FL 10.37

6. Owen Carter-Wrightsville Beach, NC 6.00

If you stick to your game plan and just surf, you can win — and that’s EXACTLY what Deerfield Beach, FL’s, Sterling Makish did to claim the Explorer Menehune title. While the other competitors in his final heat were either not catching waves or fighting to get the best waves, Sterling just stuck to his plan, surfed alone, and rode a ton of waves for a long time, doing a couple of turns per wave and walking away with the 1st-place trophy. Look at the stoke on those faces. Photo: Dugan

It doesn’t get more local than this guy: Aaron Cormican was born and raised in New Smyrna Beach, and he was there all weekend cheering on the teamriders (like Sterling Makish) who have his shapes under their feet. When they announced over the PA that Gorkin was there to coach, he firmly denied ANY coaching and said he was just there as moral support. It must have worked as his riders took home more trophies than any other board company represented at the event. Photo: Dugan

Owen Carter traveled down to Florida from Wrightsville Beach, NC, and slashed his way to a 6th-place in Explorer Menehuene. Owen was one of the new crop of standout performers that are starting to show their chops wherever they go. He took full advantage of the warm water and weather, surfing every chance he had. Photo: Dugan


1. Kepa Mendia-West Palm Beach, FL 13.17

2. Braeden Kopec-Flagler Beach, FL 11.60

3. Benji Lange-St. Augustine, FL 10.20

4. Palladin Pelliccia-Garden City, SC 6.60

5. Warren Povey-Barbados 5.56

6. Frankie Schifano-New Smyrna Beach, FL 3.90

The Mini Groms are the future of surfing (or of any sport for that matter). The youth are the new breed of competitors who will lead into the next century and beyond, and young lad Kepa Mendia has already surfed Pipeline and is turning heads whenever he paddles out. With his dad Peter showing him the ropes and the ins and outs of competition, it’s fair to say he has a bright road ahead. Kepa finished off the weekend with a 1st in Explorer Super Groms and a 4th in Open Mini Groms, getting a little tube ride here on the inside during his semifinal heat. Photo: Dugan


1. Caroline Marks-Melbourne Beach, FL 12.60

2. Eva Woodland-Satellite Beach, FL 11.57

3. Sophie Falzone-Atlantic Beach, FL 10.90

4. Rachel Presti-Melbourne Beach, FL 8.23

5. Jasmine Gailey-Titusville, FL 7.16

6. Leah Thompson-Wrightsville Beach, NC 6.17

These two women here are the ones who bust their butts behind the scenes year after year, contest after contest, and heat after heat since 1989. Gayline Clifford (left) and Janice Aragon (right) have been maintaining the stoke and turning out champions for years. These two have raised the bar very high on what is expected from each surfer to win and succeed in the world of surfing. A huge thank you goes out to them with the ongoing success of the NSSA and hopes for a bright future and more world champions down the road. Photo: Dugan


1. Rachel Presti-Melbourne Beach, FL 13.50

2. Coral Schuster-Cocoa Beach, FL 11.23

3. Caroline Marks-Melbourne Beach, FL 10.26

5. Ava McGowan-New Smyrna Beach, FL 9.67

5. Eden Lange-St. Augustine, FL 9.33

6. Hannah Blevins-Flagler Beach, FL 7.16

Shea Lopez and Chase Modelski chair Zoe Benedetto up the beach after her Explorer Super Girls win. Zoe also grabbed a 2nd in Open Super Girls, making her coach Shea a happy man. Photo: Dugan


1. Zoe Benedetto-Jensen Beach, FL 13.94

2. Ava McGowan-New Smyrna Beach, FL 11.33

3. Audrey Presti-Melbourne Beach, FL 8.20

4. Bree Smith-Merritt Island, FL 7.20

5. Breena Thompson-New Smyrna Beach, FL 4.06

6. Audrey Iglay-Manasquan, NJ 1.67

Always check your heat sheets and see how your waves were scored to see what worked for you and what didn’t. Just ask six-time champ Corey Howell — it always works for him. Photo: Dugan


1. Jason Motes-Jacksonville Beach, FL 13.84

2. Kevin Moon-Satellite Beach, FL 10.83

3. Gary Allred-Jacksonville, FL 4.64


1. Jason Motes-Jacksonville Beach, FL 13.73

2. Frank Gilday Sr.-New Smyrna Beach, FL 10.93

3. Shawn Arthur Sr.-St. Augustine, FL 9.60

4. Gary Allred-Jacksonville, FL 7.33

5. Chris Brown-Ponce Inlet, FL 7.03

With weather in the mid 80s, offshore winds, and plenty of hot surfing, the annual NSSA East Coast Championships were again a huge success. Hats off to all who helped out and sponsored the event. Photo: Dugan


1. Chris Brown-Ponce Inlet, FL 17.83

2. Frank Gilday-New Smyrna Beach, FL 11.40

3. Charlie Hajek-New Smyrna Beach, FL 10.67

4. Kevin Moon-Satellite Beach, FL 7.37

5. Gary Allred-Jacksonville, FL 7.10


1. Larry Holmes-Cape Canaveral, FL 7.33


1. Trip Chandler-Pawleys Island, SC 14.33

2. Spencer Bridges-Summit, NJ 12.60

3. Jason Motes-Jacksonville Beach, FL 12.03

4. Spencer Fenton-Miami Beach, FL 7.17

5. Georgia Cook-Franklin, TN 6.23

6. Abigail Remke-Pensacola, FL 1.83


1. Georgia Cook-Franklin, TN 12.66

2. Morgan Iglay-Manasquan, NJ 11.13

3. Fiona Sargente-Palm Bay, FL 10.83

4. Maddy Malizia-New Smyrna Beach, FL 8.70

5. Abigail Remke-Pensacola, FL 7.66

6. Audrey Iglay-Manasquan, NJ 6.93


1. Bo Raynor-Wilmington, NC

2. Jude Clark-Sea Girt, NJ

3. Chase Modelski-Juno Beach, FL

This is the winning air that gave Bo Raynor the victory in this year’s Air Show. Bo had a pretty good run at the 2017 event, earning Performer of the Day on March 31st and $100 from Grom Social for posting a 10, a 3rd-place in Open Men’s, and a 1st in the Airshow. Looks like his drive south from Wilmington, NC, was well worth it. Photo: Dugan



1-University of North Florida “A” 115

2. UNC-Wilmington 95

3. Flagler 62

4. University of Central Florida “A” 50

=5. Daytona State 33

University of North Florida “B” 33

7. Florida Institute of Technology 26

8. University of Central Florida “B” 11


1. Corey Howell-UNF 16.83

2. Shane Burn-UNCW 15.43

3. Conner Lester-UNCW 13.74

4. Patrick Kelly-UNF 8.40

5. RJ Berger-UNF 7.53

6. Parker Sawyer-Flagler 7.53

This man can’t be stopped. Corey Howell from Melbourne, FL, has more titles than you — this year he bagged his 6th consecutive title in the Interscholastic division. That’s three High School Men’s titles and three College Men’s titles. Corey also led the UNF Surf Team to a third consecutive College Team title. Photo: Dugan


1. Nikki Viesins-UCF 17.00

2. Piper Austin-UNF 14.26

3. Emily Ruppert-UNF 13.20

4. Jesse Rowan-Flagler 6.63

5. Airlee Pickett-UNCW 5.40

6. Amber Jeckovich-Daytona State 4.53

First thing in the morning, northwest winds and a nice right reeling by with no takers. A very rare moment when you have a few hundred kids in town for a surfing contest, but it DOES happen. Photo: Dugan


1. Shane Burn-UNCW 15.27

2. Parker Sawyer-Flagler 13.16

3. Jon Jon Raidy-UNF 10.04

4. Patrick Kelly-UNF 8.74

5. Ryan Hoge-UCF 8.03

6. Tyler Crawford-FIT 7.10



1-Cocoa Beach 60

2-Satellite 25

3-Melbourne 21

Cocoa Beach High won the High School Men’s Division with the help of its youngest member, 13-year-old William Hedleston. He dropped a 7.8 and a 7.6 in his finals to grab a 3rd-place and help CBHS nab the win. The day before he was awarded for being the winner of the Boys Open division for the Southeast Florida Conference so it’s safe to say he’s on a roll. He’s the only grom in Florida sponsored by Kelly Slater Surfboards and has solid backing from Rip Curl and his dad Brett. Keep an eye out for William as he moves ahead heat by heat. Photo: Dugan


1. Chase Modelski-Cocoa Beach 18.27

2. Christian Mocny-Melbourne 14.60

3. William Hedleston-Cocoa Beach 14.27

4. Jake Hembree-Cocoa Beach 11.00

5. Joey Putnall-Cocoa Beach 9.73

6. Kyle Brainard-Satellite 6.83

Two words: Caroline Marks. Photo: Jason Obenauer


1. Caroline Marks-Cocoa Beach 19.67

2. Madeline Zeuli-Cocoa Beach 11.00

3. Anna Campaigha-Satellite 4.57

4. Sara Nickle-Satellite 1.97

5. Taylor Madden-Melbourne 1.76


1. Austin Hollingshead-Cocoa Beach 12.33

2. Sara Nickle-Satellite 6.66


March 30 – Chase Modelski

March 31 – Bo Raynor

April 1 – Rachel Presti

April 2 – Gabriel Medina

All the 2017 NSSA East Coast Championships winners. Congrats to all — now go make us proud at Nationals! Photo: Jason Obenauer

The NSSA East Coast Championships is proud to have support from Body Glove, Sex Wax, and Grom Social. Many thanks to New Smyrna Beach, the lifeguards and the NSSA staff for assisting us in staging a fantastic East Coast Championships!

About NSSA

The National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage and assist its members in their interest to learn and develop the fundamentals and skills of surfing competition while competing in structured and quality events. The NSSA promotes the qualities of discipline and competitive excellence while supporting the merits of academic achievement to young surfers. The NSSA strives to provide a fun surfing experience for all of its members.

The NSSA is one of the few national youth sports organizations that require its participants to maintain academic standards in order to compete. Since 1978, the NSSA program philosophy has been that athletics and scholastics go hand in hand. More than 80 NSSA events are run nationwide that culminate with the annual National Championships which is regarded as the highest profile youth surfing event in America.

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