HUNTINGTON BEACH — Longboarding, the slow, easy way to surf. Catch a wave, scamper up a few steps and relax. Enjoy the ride.
Surfing for the non-active lifestyle.
Tell that to Joey Hawkins and he'll spend the day telling you why that's not true. Or better yet, he'll get in the water and prove it.
A former world champion and the current U.S. champion longboarder, Hawkins performed 360s, aerials and more traditional moves Saturday to win the first quarterfinal heat of the Op Pro longboarding competition.
Hawkins, 24, grew up in Huntington Beach. His father, a longboarder whom he calls "a full-on soul man," placed him on a surfboard at age 2. By the time Hawkins was 5, he was catching waves and riding alongside his father.
But unlike his father, Joey favored the short boards and stayed with them through high school. His style called for crazy, risk-taking moves and vertical attacks on the lip. And in competition, it worked. In 1987, Hawkins was the Huntington Beach surf champion and ranked fifth in the nation among high school surfers.
He envisioned a future of professional surfing until a back injury slowed him. There was no painful spill or wreck to blame for the herniated disk, just a life of surfing and skateboarding and taking his back for granted.
"When I got back into surfing, I started with a longboard. It was supposed to keep me from doing any wild, snapping turns," Hawkins said.
In the beginning, it might have. But now, Hawkins combines skateboard moves with his innovations and traditional longboard skills to tear apart the waves.
In the semifinals, Hawkins will face San Diegan Joel Tudor, the leader on the longboarding tour.
"I give my best effort every time," Hawkins said, adding that he's ready for the next level of competition. "Winning all the early heats doesn't mean much. Somebody could finish second all along and then be the big dog in the semis or in the finals."
In women's surfing, Rochelle Ballard advanced to the semifinals after catching only four waves in the quarterfinals. Competitors are allowed 10 waves, but only the top four count. Surfers usually catch eight or nine to give themselves room for one or two bad rides.
Ballard, 23, didn't bother. After scoring a 6.17 on her first wave, she looked to the stands for her husband, coach and manager, Bill Ballard.
"He stands up there and directs me in the heats," she said. "He waves me over to where I should be in the water."
Frieda Zamba posted the biggest wave score among women with a 6.5. A five-time Op winner, Zamba easily won her heat to advance to the semifinals.
In men's surfing, Jeff Deffenbaugh of Huntington Beach and Richie Collins of Newport Beach may have been the biggest winners of the competition so far. In addition to winning their heats in Round 3 of the main event and advancing to the quarterfinals, Deffenbaugh and Collins advanced to the U.S. Open of Surfing, which begins Tuesday.
7-8:20 a.m.--Men's quarterfinals; 8:20-9 a.m. --Longboard semifinals; 9-9:40 a.m.--Women's semifinals; 9:40-10:20 a.m.--Op Junior semifinals; 10:20-11 a.m.--Men's semifinal; 11-11:30 a.m.--Longboard final; 11:30 a.m.-12:00--Women's final, 12-12:30 p.m.--Op Junior final; 12:30-1 p.m.--Men's final; 1:15-2:15 p.m.--Awards presentation.
Saturday's results (top two finishers advance):
Longboarding main event round 2
Heat 1--1. Joey Hawkins, Huntington Beach; 2. Kevin Connelly, San Diego; 3. Mark Cobb, Huntington Beach; 4. Dino Miranda, Honolulu. Heat 2--1. Jeff Kramer, San Clemente; 2. Brad Warrick, Costa Mesa; 3. Ryan Mata, Capistrano Beach; 4. Lance Wollesagle, Thousand Oaks. Heat 3--1. Joel Tudor, San Diego; 2. Mark Stewart, Buena Park; 3. Reese Patterson, Redondo Beach; 4. Rick Hazard, San Clemente. Heat 4--1. Joey Valentine, Aiea, Hawaii; 2. Richie Collins, Newport Beach; 3. Chris Olivas, Cardiff; 4. Stu Kenson, Chula Vista.
Heat 5--1. Israel Paskowitz, San Clemente; 2. Chris Schlickenmeyer, Torrance; 3. David Nuhiwa, Anaheim; 4. Brenden Lee, Granada Hills. Heat 6--1. Chris Frohoff, Manhattan Beach; 2. Bonga Perkins, Kailua; 3. Dale Dobson, Cardiff; 4. Jed Morouse, San Clemente. Heat 7--1.Josh Baxter, San Clemente; 2. Josh Mohr, Huntington Beach; 3. Ben Stone, La Conchita; 4. Kenji Webb, Santa Barbara. Heat 8--1. Colin McPhillips, Capistrano Beach; 2. Michael Gee, San Clemente; 3. Goff Moysa, San Clemente; 4. Bill Stewart, San Clemente.
Men's surfing main event round 3
Heat 1--1. Victor Ribas, Brazil; 2. Renan Rochas, Brazil; 3. Chris Brown, Santa Barbara; 4. Barton Lynch, Australia. Heat 2--1. Matt Hoy, Australia; 2. Joey Jenkins, North Hollywood; 3. Shane Stoneman, San Juan Capistrano; 4. David Vetea, Tahiti. Heat 3--1. Kelly Slater, Cocoa Beach, Fla.; 2. Todd Holland, Harbor Beach, Fla. 3. Richard Marsh, Australia; 4. Kalani Robb, Sunset Beach, Hawaii. Heat 4--1. Derek Ho, Sunset Beach, Hawaii; 2. Kaipo Jaquais, Hanamaulu, Hawaii; 3. Fabio Gouveia, Brazil; 4. Shane Dorian, Honolulu, Hawaii.