Tommy Curren

Branden Aroyan

Tommy Curren

A Classic Classic

Boelsterli Eight-Peats as Reynolds Takes Down Pro Division

The beach was packed, the sun shined, the waves rolled, the wind blew and, when the spray finally settled just before dark on Sunday evening, the 29th Annual Rincon Classic concluded with an ending about as thrilling as you can find in the wide world of professional wave riding contests. “It’s endings like that that make you realize, this thing, really every year, is classic squared,” laughed Contest Director Chris Keet in the afterglow of the two day event. “It was a classic Classic.”

The ending in question saw South Coast-grown and World Tour outcasts Dane Reynolds and Bobby Martinez — two men who, for entirely separate reasons, controversially chose to walk away from the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour this past season — trading blows in the waning minutes of the Men’s Pro Division Final, their boards blazing poetically and emphatically from just below the Rivermouth to the top of the Cove.

Dane Reynolds
Click to enlarge photo

Branden Aroyan

Dane Reynolds

With a minute remaining and needing a high-scoring wave to leapfrog Martinez (actually, Reynolds, at that point, needed to score big to pass Martinez and eventual 3rd place finisher Pete Mussio) a visibly hustling Reynolds found a wind tattered shoulder-high wedge and promptly obliterated it all the way to a 1st place finish. He ended with a score of 18.17 (out of a possible 20 and based off the scores of his two best waves) while Martinez — who surfed with the power and precision of a prizefighter throughout the event — fell just short with a total of 17.8. Sixteen-year-old Parker Coffin of Montecito took home 4th.

Ironically, the win was Reynolds’s first contest victory in over a decade, a wacky but true fact about the 26-year-old who is considered in the elite of the elite of people who make a living riding floating pieces of fiberglass and foam. Receiving his 1st place award at a ceremony Sunday night at the Santa Maritime Museum, Reynolds, sheepish yet laughing, explained, “This is the first contest I’ve won since 2001. That’s a long time for a professional surfer.”

And while the Pro Final was literally and figuratively the exclamation point on the weekend-long competition at the end of Bates Road, it was by no means the only saltwater theater unfolding. Not by a long shot. There is a young woman: her name is Demi Boelsterli. She is 21-years-young. She comes from Goleta and she won her eighth consecutive Women’s Title at the Classic on Sunday afternoon. That is a record number of titles be you man, woman, young, old, pro, crazy, or cool. It is the most ever. Period. Even better, she often surfs like she isn’t in a contest at all.

Bobby Martinez with a slightly more vicious version of your average "wham off the crispy!"
Click to enlarge photo

Jon Shafer/

Bobby Martinez with a slightly more vicious version of your average “wham off the crispy!”

In her final, Boelsterli, who found herself behind eventual 2nd place finisher Aubrey Faulk for much of the 20-minute affair, sealed the deal on her record-setting victory with a ferocious frontside hack straight to the throat of a heaving, pitching, foaming, closeout section breaking just out front of the judges tower. It was a murder; a raw and brutal and perfect wave homicide with only one flaw — it had hundreds of witnesses.

And then there was the Mens Masters battle where multiple dudes over 35 pretty much put on a clinic on how to dissect the many moods of Rincon while riding a surfboard. Carpinteria’s Vinny Perry — whose sister, Michelle, placed 3rd in the Womens draw — won the hotly contested slugfest, just besting Gabe Venturelli in 2nd and Greg Venable in 3rd. Venturelli also surfed in the Mens Open final which was won by the people’s champion Nate Winkles. The regular foot opened up the throttle in the final and it worked, his powerful turns right into the guts of the wave besting the more precision-oriented approach of Justin Paul and Dennis Rizzo.

Still the action down memory lane continues. There is the vision of groms, well, technically speaking, Gremlins, laying into waves twice their size with commitment, charging down the line, and then running back up the beach to the Rivermouth to paddle out anew. Eithan Osborne won this division, just squeaking past Tommy McKeown. Gremlins are 11 years old and under. Both these kids surf better than me and I’ve been surfing longer than they’ve been alive.

Then there is Tom Curren, 46-years-young and riding a 4’11” Frankensteined stub of a surfboard, lighting up the first round of the Pro division with his trademark style spilling all over the wave that helped create it in the first place. A flowing and smooth aquatic art form that has influenced generations of surfers the world over, Curren’s approach to riding a wave is intrinsically linked to the unique magic of Rincon. It is a relationship — ethereal perhaps — that defies adequate description but is undeniably evident when witnessed by even a surf neophyte. Opportunities to bear such witness occurred early and often throughout the weekend.

Demi Boelsterli slashes here way to a record 8th consecutive Rincon Classic title
Click to enlarge photo

Jon Shafer/

Demi Boelsterli slashes here way to a record 8th consecutive Rincon Classic title

And no proper retelling of the Classic would be complete without mention of its current captain, Chris Keet. This year marked the twelfth year Keet has directed the contest. A ripping regular foot in his own right, Keet wears many hats during the annual buildup and realization of the Classic, all of which he does with skill — something that would be impossible, he will be the first to tell you, without the help of his core volunteers and advisory board.

But this year, freshly a father and hindered by a recently blown out knee, Keet took his microphone game to new levels during the contest’s live, on-beach play-by-play. Sharing the duties with former pro surfer-turned-pro Santa Barbara Channel sea urchin diver Chris Brown and event sponsor Quicksilver’s Todd Kline amongst others, Keet blended rare knowledge of the identity of virtually everyone who walked by the judges scaffolding with insightful, if not poetic, descriptions of the action unfolding on the sea. Turns became “smooth as a babies bottom,” things went “wham off the crispy” more than a few times, and Pro Division 4th place finisher Parker “Porkchop” Coffin “took home some apple sauce” with his placement. Classic squared indeed.

Below you will find the podium placements of the Classic’s 11 divisions. Though the popularly accepted and certainly useful way of summarizing such competitions, the following ranks by no means successfully represent the essence of what happened — there was just too much fun, sun, and surfing going down at the Queen of the Coast.

1st- Eithan Osborne
2nd- Tommy McKewon
3rd- Jake Quittner

1st- Jessee Ransone
2nd- Abby Browne
3rd- Poppy Brittingham

1st- Mickey Clarke
2nd- Jason Knell
3rd- Eric Ronning

1st- Charlie Faucett
2nd- Decker McCallister
3rd- Chris Imperato

1st- Nate Winkles
2nd- Justin Paul
3rd- Dennis Rizzo

1st- Demi Boelsterli
2nd- Aubrey Faulk
3rd- Michelle Perry

1st- Robert Curtis
2nd- JP Garcia
3rd- Evan Trauntvein

1st- Vinny Perry
2nd- Gabe Venturelli
3rd- Greg Venable

1st- Brett Jordan
2nd- Tony DeGroot
3rd- Tony Luna

1st- Don Campbell
2nd- Kitt Cossart
3rd- Dave Johnson

1st- Dane Reynolds
2nd- Bobby Martinez
3rd- Pete Mussio

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