They came from as far as New South Wales, Australia, and Hawaii, but in the end, the competitors at the World Longboard Team Championships at San Onofre State Beach Sunday found the best longboard surfers in the world were just boys next door.
After two days of almost non-stop surfing, the San Clemente-based Chart House surf team of Herbie Fletcher, Jay Riddel and brothers Israel and Jonathon Paskowitz was named world champion and awarded $4,000.
For many, the winning team came as little surprise. Jonathon Paskowitz, 26, of San Juan Capistrano, who won the U.S. longboard championships in Malibu last month, is the Professional Surfing Assn. of America's top-ranked longboarder. Riddel, 34, of Malibu, is ranked second. Israel Paskowitz, 24, is third. And Fletcher, 39, is (you guessed it) fourth.
Together they outpaddled, outmaneuvered, and outfinessed the remaining 140 contestants, accumulating 2,312 points in 12 four-man, 15-minute heats. Another San Clemente-based team, Stewart Surfboards, finished second with 2,214, and the Walden surf team of Huntington Beach was third with 1,503.
The Stewart team, comprising Bill Stewart, 35, and Dean Reynolds, 24, both of San Clemente; Stuart Kenson, 29, of San Diego, and Dale Dobson, 40, of Oceanside, was trailing by over 200 points going into the final round.
Though each of its members would have to place first and second in each of the final four heats, the Stewart team gave Chart House a run for the money.
Grabbing the first wave of a five-foot set, Bill Stewart executed the four required maneuvers--a drop knee turn, switching stance, walking the board and riding the nose--so quickly he had time to throw in two 360-degree sliding turns before reaching the shore.
Stewart, who had not yet lost a heat in the competition and appeared to be headed for the contest's individual champion title, rode his next wave much as he had the first, but finished by hanging 10 for about three seconds.
He seemed to have the individual title wrapped up until the last heat. Stewart only managed minimal maneuvers on about four waves. Israel Paskowitz caught four waves also, riding them in his usual smooth, quick-stepping style. But these two had none of the oomph that Dobson and Jonathon Paskowitz exhibited in the last heat.
Dobson, ranked ninth by the PSAA, is considered one of the masters of all-around surf tricks. He managed perfect sideslip 360s--in which the board is completely turned around while crouching on the nose--four times in the heat, adding impressive footwork along the way.
Watching from the inside, Jonathon Paskowitz paddled hard to catch the next wave, a four-footer coming from far outside. After a few spraying turns off the lip, Paskowitz turned his board toward the shore, stepped up to the nose, hanging 10 for almost five seconds.
"I want to be aggressive," said Paskowitz, who won both the final heat and the individual championship with 565 points. "You have to flow from one end of the wave to the other. You can't force your routine."