By Andrea Swayne
Local surfers took command of the waves as the first leg of the 2012 Surfing America USA Championships kicked off at the Huntington Beach, June 15 to 17.
Competition included all longboard divisions, preliminary rounds of 18+ shortboard divisions and, new for this year, a stand-up paddle division.
A highlight of Day 1 came in the hard-fought Jr. Longboard U18 final when Capistrano Beach surfer Dylan Cox cemented the win in the closing seconds of the heat. Runner up, Ricky Cunningham of San Diego, gave Cox a run for his money as the two traded first and second place at least three times in the last few minutes of the heat.
The Girls U18 Longboard title was taken by Dana Point’s Lulu Erkeneff who defeated strong competitor, Hawaii’s Honolua Bloomfield.
In Women’s 18+ Longboard competition, the final round a battle between the eldest in the division, Sheri Crummer, 61, and Tory Gilkerson, 19, the youngest. Both hold three U.S. longboard titles and the battle ended with Gilkerson taking the win and Crummer claiming the runner up spot.
“Our age difference made it exciting going into the final with Tory as we both held three U.S. women’s longboard titles,” said Crummer. “One of us had the opportunity to claim a fourth title and I’m stoked Tory won.”
Locals were also dominant in SUP divisions. Chuck Patterson of Dana Point took wins in both Open SUP and Men/Women 40+ divisions. The Open Women’s SUP champion was San Clemente’s Candice Appleby, followed by runner-up Emmy Merrill, also from San Clemente.
The competition—final rounds of Men’s 18+ shortboard and all U18 shortboard divisions—moved to Lower Trestles on Tuesday and will continue through Saturday. For photos, updated results and a live webcast, log on to http://www.surfingamerica.org/livesite.