Seven teen-age surfers from Huntington Beach High School's championship surf team will leave Orange County on Wednesday for more than two weeks of competition in Australia.
Coach Andy Verdone arranged the trip after Principal Jim Staunton received district approval allowing the students two weeks' leave. They are scheduled to return Jan. 17.
"This is the first time a surf team I've coached has ever been allowed to travel on school time," said Verdone, who has been coach for six years. "Usually, we travel only during the summer."
Peter Townend, a local celebrity and former world surfing champion from Australia now living in Westminster, helped organize the trip. The team's main competition will be at the Hot Buttered Pro, a premier international surfing event for amateur and professional surfers.
The Huntington Beach High School surf team is the defending state champion.
Staunton acknowledged that surfing, although not as popular as football or baseball, has certainly "come of age" at coastal high school campuses in Southern California.
But that wasn't the primary reason for his support, Staunton said.
"This is a prestigious event," he said. "And our team was honored to be invited to a worldwide contest. We had no choice on the date, but it just happened to be Australia's summer."
Huntington Beach surfers selected for the trip are Wyatt Simmons, 18; Mikey Reilly, 17; Justin Harcharic, 17; Andy Hobson, 17; Ben Will, 17; Ryan Turner, 15, and Matt Shadbolt, 16.
In addition, several other amateur surfers from California and Hawaii are expected to join Verdone and the team in Australia.
Those surfers include Kalani Robb, 17, of Hawaii, the current amateur world champion.