Rincon Classic Is Surfers’ Paradise

Boelsterli and Coffin Among Big Winners at 30th Annual Surf Contest

Demi Boelsterli slashes her way to a record 9th Rincon Classic title in the Womens Division Sunday afternoon.

Good things come to those who wait. After more than two months of false starts and crummy surf causing delays, the 30th Annual Rincon Classic finally hit the water at the end of Bates Road this weekend and the fabled locals-only surf competition did anything but disappoint. Summer-like sunshine and some sneaky good surf conditions rolling through the point (especially on Saturday) greeted competitors and spectators alike for the two-day, action-packed affair that concluded just before sunset on Sunday with champions new and old, including Conner Coffin power surfing his way to his first-ever Pro Division win and Demi Boelsterli winning her unprecedented 9th Classic title.

Gabe Venturelli

“It was a lot like childbirth this year,” summed up contest director Chris Keet in the after glow of the event, himself a father of one and with another on the way. “There was pain and difficulty on the way, but once it happened, everything turned out beautiful. We couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

Day one of the contest was supposed to be the less impressive surf-wise, according to forecasters, and if you were down at the Queen of the Coast on Friday evening and saw the wind-tattered thigh-slappers on hand, your hopes for good waves come Saturday morning were anything but, well, hopeful. But that is the beauty of Mother Nature; she doesn’t always do what she is predicted to, and by the time the first heat of the Boys Division hit the water at 7 a.m., the waves were a silky smooth waist- to shoulder-high with even bigger sets. And so began a darn good day of surfing. The glassy conditions held all day long for the most part, and the surf, with some afternoon sets enjoying head-high drops, continued to deliver the goods through the ebb and flow of the tide. The better waves were connecting from the corner of the Indicator (top of the point) all the way through to the Rivermouth section, offering up racing walls and the occasional thin-lipped bit of tube time for the savvy wave rider. With a couple thousand surf fans mobbing the beach, early round standouts included Micky Clarke and Henry Hepp in the Boys Division, Jabe Swierkocki and Tommy McKeown in the Gremlins, Abby Brown in the Wahines, Vince Perry and Max Cail in the Masters, Dennis Rizzo in the Men’s, and Bobby Martinez and Killian Garland in the Pros.

However, as impressive as the aforementioned performances were, the two biggest buzz makers on Saturday were undoubtedly the efforts put in by a very in-form Gabe Venturelli in the Masters Division — his combo of high-speed lines, grab rail floaters, and layback power snaps bringing a definite element of electricity to his heats and eventually earning him the distinction of the having both the highest single wave score (a perfect 10) and the highest total heat score of the entire contest — and the “backside” surfing of Brandon Smith in both the Men’s and the Pro division. A big-haired and ripping goofy foot, Smith lost a bet this past year that had him surfing all day sans-wetsuit in a stunning red-and-black horizontally striped Speedo. With the Pacific no more than a chilly 55 degrees, Smith braved multiple heats on Saturday in his revealing swimwear (paired brilliantly with a pair of booties) and surfed flawlessly, mixing up stylish top-to-bottom rail surfing with regular fins-free flair.

2013 Pro Division winner Conner Coffin

Day two of the Classic, however, is when the action really cranks up and Champions get crowned. And while the surf wasn’t quite up to Saturday’s standards, the waves, albeit a bit on the unorganized and inconsistent side of things, continued to dish out plenty of opportunity. One of the biggest draws of the day was the Women’s Final, which saw eight-time Classic Champion Demi Boelsterli trying to lock down her unrivaled ninth title. Just back from an overseas surfing sojourn that saw her chasing waves in Australia and representing Team U.S.A. in China, a jet-lagged Boelsterli cruised to victory on Sunday with her trademark punk-rock pocket gouges and general full-throttle, down-the-line approach. In a similarly dominant fashion, Cole Robbins came out on top in the Longboard division and managed to score one of the day’s only barrels along the way, thanks to a throaty little double-up just below the Rivermouth.

Juniors Winner Pat Curren
Branden Aroyan

But before you go thinking that the Championship rounds were drama-free, consider the action that transpired in the Boys Division. With wave heights pushing overhead for these still-growing groms, Micky Clarke and Josiah Amico dueled it out for first place, with the tilt being decided on a wave exchange in the final minute of the heat. By less than a point, Amico won the battle. The Masters Final didn’t disappoint in the drama department either, as Venturelli’s hot surfing ran headlong into a field of seasoned competitors. In what Keet called “easily the best heat of the contest,” Carpinteria’s Aaron Smith just squeaked by Venturelli, Ian O’Neill, and fourth place’s Max Kail; their final rankings were determined by a series of rapid-fire waves ridden by all of them in the final 120 seconds of the heat.

JP Garcia

After Simon Murdoch turned in the day’s most style-conscious effort in route to a win in the Men’s Division, the always anticipated Pro Final popped off with its usual level of world-class, high-performance surfing. It was all regular foots in finals for the Classic’s only cash prize division, Lompoc’s own Pete Mussio, Montecito’s Conner Coffin, S.B.’s Killian Garland, and Ventura’s Mike McCabe all vying for bragging rights as 2013‘s King of the Queen of the Coast. Garland was looking for his eighth overall Classic championship but, despite nailing two frontside 360 airs in the Final, saw his hopes dashed by some red-hot surfing from both Coffin and McCabe. Riding waves mostly south of the Rivermouth, Coffin put on a power-surfing clinic in the deteriorating conditions, carving large salt-water chunks out of the fast-sectioning waves and, in the process, making the surf look a heck of a lot more rippable than it actually was. In the end, despite a late charge from McCabe that featured a particularly crisp tube ride to layback-schwack combo, Coffin’s vintage point-break approach won the day.



1- Tommy McKeown

2- Zane Booth

3- Jabe Swierkocki


1-Josiah Amico

2- Micky Clark

3- Peter Healey


1- Abby Brown

2-Jesse Ransone

3- Alanna Moore


1-Pat Curren

2-Vinny Leonelli

3- Charlie Fawcett


1- Demi Boelsterli

2- Catherine Clarke

3- Sierra Partridge


1-Simon Murdoch

2- Colin Schildhauer

3-Javier Moreno


1- Aaron Smith

2- Gabe Venturelli

3- Ian O’Neill

Grand Masters

1- Tony DeGroot

2- Chuck Graham

3- Dave Johnson


1-Kit Cossart

2- Andy Neumann

3- L. Paul Mann


1- Cole Robbins

2- Jeff Belzer

3- Evan Trauntvein


1- Conner Coffin

2-Mike McCabe

3- Killian Garland


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