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An Amateur Hangs With Professionals : Longboards: Lynch has good first day, advancing through three heats after starting at 6 a.m.


HUNTINGTON BEACH — Pat Lynch of Oceanside might have been the hardest working surfer on the first day of the U.S. Open of Surfing.

An amateur longboarder competing in his second professional contest, Lynch paddled out for the first time at 6 a.m. After handily defeating his three opponents, Lynch had an hour to kill before paddling out again.

Lynch won his next heat, although by a narrower margin.

Eight hours later, Lynch put the jersey back on and paddled out for another 20-minute test. Facing professional longboarders Chris Schlickenmeyer and Terry Simms, Lynch caught eight waves and scored one seven-pointer on the way to a second-place 21.67 total. Schlickenmeyer of Torrance won the heat with 21.97 points.

"It was my third heat," Lynch said. "They were fresh, and I had been sitting around all day."

The leader of the amateur division of the Professional Longboarding Assn. tour, Lynch, 21, struggles in an undefined space between professional and amateur.

His time in the water and weekday competitions, such as the Op Pro and the U.S. Open, prevent him from keeping a steady job. But as an amateur, he can only accept products from his sponsors and congratulations for any contest victories.

"I just have to get by on the bare essentials until I can turn pro," Lynch said. He added that he wants to have a consistent, winning record before he makes the move.

Lynch surfs next in Round 2 of the main event, today at 3:40 p.m. He'll face 1992 world champion Joey Hawkins and Mark Cobb, 16th on the longboard tour.

"Tomorrow I'm surfing against guys I watch in videos," Lynch said. "It's great just to be here. There's world champions, future world champs and ex-world champs walking around."

In women's surfing, Megan Abubo continued to build on the momentum she created in the Op Pro, advancing into the second round of trials. Abubo, an amateur from Hawaii surfing in her first professional contest, narrowly missed the final round when she finished third to top professionals Lisa Andersen and Rochelle Ballard.

"Lisa's my idol," Abubo said. "I was just trying to surf without distraction but I couldn't catch any waves."

Friends had to persuade her to enter the Op Pro, but once she made the semifinal round, entering the U.S. Open was easy.

"The surfing gets harder but mentally it gets easier," as you advance through a contest, she said. "Now I'm going for anything."

Frieda Zamba of Flagler Beach, Fla., won her trial heat by 7.87 points, the largest margin of the day.


Today's schedule: 6-7:20 a.m.--Women's trials, Round 2; 7:20 a.m.-2 p.m.--Men's main event, Round 1; 2-3:40 p.m.--Women's main event, Round 1; 3:40-6:20 p.m.--Longboarding main event, Round 2; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.--U.S. Open Beach Expo.

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