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Scholastic Competitors Give Groms a Good Name : Seven Locals Earn Spots on '93 National Team

July 15, 1993|RICK FIGNETTI and DAVID REYES | Rockin' Fig is Rick Fignetti, a Huntington Beach surfer/shop owner. Times staff writer David Reyes has reported on U.S. surf teams competing in Bali and Brazil. and

The Fig was an announcer at the recent 1993 National Scholastic Surfing Assn. national championships at Lower Trestles, basically a contest of who's hot for teen-agers and grommets.

Usually, most of the exposure in surfing is at the professional contests, said Figgy. But each year the NSSA nationals really puts out the cream of the crop from Hawaii, California, the East Coast and Gulf Coast.

So these groms are not getting paid, Fig?

Naw. It's not for money. And it's tied to academics. And they pick a national team when the contest is over. The team members will represent the United States in foreign competition for 1993.

Sounds heavy duty. Figgy, weren't you on the national team?

Yup. Some of the most successful pro surfers in the world are former NSSA National Team members. There's Tom Curren, Todd Holland, Rob Machado and others. In fact, 16-year-old Kalani Robb, a Hawaiian who took the nationals' Open Division, is being called the next Machado--he's that good.

Were the waves good?

The best: They were, like, three to six feet, and PERFECT.

According to Janice Aragon, the NSSA's executive director, Robb made history at the finals June 26. "No one ever in the NSSA has ever won both divisions in the same year," Aragon said. "Kalani won both juniors and open men's (age 16 and up)."

Not only are athletics stressed in the NSSA, but, Aragon said, each member who has a 3.5 grade-point average or above is recognized at the annual banquet with a plaque and certificate. If they're failing in school, they jeopardize their membership, she said.

Fig said David Dixon from Stuart, Fla., who surfed in the 13- to 15-year-old bracket, picked off one of the best waves at Lowers. It had perfect shape, and he just tore it apart, Fig said.

Scott Finn of Dana Point, who was in Explorer Men's (18-24), had this vertical backside and was ripping big, Fig said.

In women's, Jayme Lee, 21, of Mission Viejo took first. What made Lee's performance stand out, Aragon said, is that she's in her first year of competition.

The five-day contest included more than 450 of the nation's top surfers, bodyboarders and college and high school teams, Aragon said.

The Hawaiians had a strong showing this year, taking three of the five national titles. In fact, the titles were shared between the Hawaiians and Southern Californians. Competitors from the East and Gulf coasts and Northern California were shut out.

"I'm really pleased that at the Op Pro, our juniors placed in three of the four places for the Op Juniors category," Aragon said. "That included Kali Robb, Bryan Doonan, 19, from San Diego, and Chris Strother, 16, from Carlsbad."

Congratulations to the seven surfers from Orange County who were selected to the 21-member 1993-94 NSSA National Team. They include Finn, 19, team captain; Lee; Curtis Payan, 20, of Laguna Niguel; Schooner Vermilyea, 16, of Dana Point; Iain McPhillips, 15, Capistrano Beach; Troy Tecklenburg, 15, of Seal Beach, and Josh Vesque, 17, of San Clemente.

Festival: The San Clemente Ocean Festival on July 23-25 will highlight surfing this year, said Charlene Bailey, Ocean Festival events chairwoman. A festival reception and free video presentation, "Surfing: The Sport Kings," will be held Wednesday , from 7 to 10 p.m. at the San Clemente Community Center, 100 N. Calle Seville. Before the video, there will be an informal autograph signing with many legends of surfing, including Walter Hoffman, Joyce Hoffman, Jericho Poppler, Dale Velzy, LeRoy Grannis, Ron Drummond, Tom Keck, Rich Chew, David Nuuhiwa and Mickey Munoz.

Free tickets for the reception are available at Rocky's Surf Shop, BC Surf Shop and Fletcher Surf Shop, all in San Clemente. For information, contact the San Clemente Community Center at (714) 361-8264.

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