After intense competition between ten different high schools in the Orange County Region, the San Clemente High School Surf Team was able to pull through to be crowned champions of the 2013 Oakley High School Surf Team Challenge.
This yearly event features ten high school surf teams from the Orange County area. Every team contains a four-man, tag-team format with heats lasting one hour. Each team rider is limited to a maximum of four waves and is required to contribute one score to the team total. One designated ‘whammy’ surfer is able to double one score, ideally his highest-score, by raising both fists in the air after the ride.
The high-pressure final between the four remaining teams – San Clemente, Dana Hills, Huntington Beach, and defending champions Newport Harbor – was held at Newport’s 54th street. The teams were fighting for a $5,000 check to be split between their Science and Athletic programs.
The two-to-three-foot surf and low tide conditions at 54th street provided additional challenge for the whammy surfers to find a high-scoring wave good enough to claim as their double score.
With time running out and low whammy scores already claimed by Newport Harbor and Dana Hills, the San Clemente team knew they had a chance.
As the clock went down to below 20 minutes, San Clemente’s Kevin Schulz had only one wave left and took his chances. Schulz slid into a right and snapped two carving turns, earning a 6.00, and raised both fists in the air to double his score; pushing San Clemente’s heat total to a 25.24.
“This group of seniors is as good as it gets,” said San Clemente coach John Dowell. “They left a little bit on the table here last year, and they came back and got it this year, so I’m stoked for them. They dropped huge scores in that Final with Jonah [Carter] dropping the biggest with a 7.14, and a couple of under-pressure sixes, and a pressure-cooker 4.23.”
Dana Hill’s Josh Benjoya locked in their team’s final score at 23.91. With less than three minutes left, San Clemente’s Colton Overin earned a 4.23, sealing in San Clemente’s first-place finish.
Excited about his team’s victory, Shulz said, “It’s our senior year, so this was our last ditch effort to pull through for the team. Last year we got second to Newport Harbor by less than a point, so this year it feels really good to beat everybody. Coach Dowell has just been such an inspiration to all of us and he’s the best coach we could ever ask for.”
1. San Clemente (29.47)
2. Dana Hills (23.91)
3. Newport Harbor (23.34)
4. Huntington Beach (15.83)
Newport Harbor was awarded $1,000 for the “Team Spirit Award.”