Pre Heat Margaritas, Head Phone Drops And A Whole Lotta Aerials
Round one of Stab High – no rain on our parade.
With thunderstorms and rain on the forecast, we were delighted this morning to read a weather report predicting overcast skies with a high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
After putting the final polishes on Stab High, round one kicked off on schedule, which for us, was a big deal. The broadcast ran smooth. The jumbotrons featured instant replays. Shea Lopez walked the beach with a microphone in hand. Jason “Ratboy” Collins cruised around with Nathan Fletcher and Bobby Martinez.
After a few days of sweat, today is temperate. Just warm enough to rinse off, and thankfully, the humidity has wained.
The first heat featured Noa Deane, Hector Santamaria, Eithan Osborne and Ian Crane. On the first right of the day, Noa set the stage with a lofty straight air, he landed clean and was rewarded a score in the 30 range. The Stab High judges were given strict instruction to be tough. In a wave pool featuring the world’s most perfect air section, a 100 score is virtually impossible – no need to put a cap on performance.
Nathan Fletcher, the competitor’s favorite.
Eithan Osborne, in the first round, was a standout. He’s a 19-year-old cat from Ventura, who, to the larger surf fan population is generally unknown. But, with two huge opening lifts, he won’t be for long.
Eithan is a dark horse in this event for sure.
“It’s so trippy,” Eithan told us after his heat in the VIP area. “Dude it was so nerve racking and super fun. Being able to watch your replay is so sick.
I was so psyched I had Noa in my heat. Hector was just out there talking about his ‘chi.’ You try to tell hector not to paddle in front of your wave and it doesn’t even notice,” he laughed. “He kept telling me, ‘you’re my teacher.”
Heat two was Mason Ho, Creed Mctaggart, Harry Bryant and Jett Schilling. Mason, as always, came to entertain. As this is an air event, he hit each section with utmost tenacity. Sending roars through the Texan, and very Australian, Californian and Hawaiian crowd.
“All these guys are my favorite guys,” Mason told Stab after his heat. “I’d barely call this a contest, I feel more competitive in my daily routine then here. Like, you watch the boys land the gnarliest shit and you just wanna do what they’re doing. And then they look straight as if they didn’t even do what they wanted to. You’re like woahhh, and get so psyched.”
Creed, Chip, Noa and Harry Bryant shouting for their dear friend Vinny.
“If you want to progress your surfing, just get 6-10-20 of these guy in this pool. Surfing with everyone just gives me this weird happy feeling that you don’t even get at your local beach break,” continued Mase.
Chippa started the third heat off with a full rote into the flats. He’s one of the world’s most technical aerialists, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the final if not win the thing. Kael Walsh, Jay Davies and Blair Conklin shared the pool with Chippa. Blair was on pre-heat Margaritas. Jay dipped into the post heat beers – solidifying Mason’s claim that this does not feel like your average surf contest.
Eli Hanneman went for the first flip of the event in heat four. He didn’t land it, however it did land a quite large alley-oop. The kid’s 15-years-old and has the pop of the gents twice his age. So far, his complete rate has been at about 75 percent. He’s got flips locked down. Honestly, Eli could win this thing.
Dion Agius last night was raving about the ramp. “It’s just so fucking fun,” he’d shout out to us on top of the wall. Before his first wave, a friend dropped him down a pair of headphones in a bag on a rope from the wall lining the wave. He hucked them on, psyched up a bit and went for it. The wall pass was something new.
Kael Walsh takes the elevator in.
Yesterday, Brenden Gibbons injured his knee. In the warm up surfs, Nathan Fletcher, the host of the Acid Drop interlude between round two and the final was flairing. So much that we had to offer him a slot in the event. At first he declined, but after a little push from Noa, Dion, Creed and Chippa, he eventually folded.
He surfed in heat five. And, discussion around a Fletcher in an air event just seems right.
“Nathan was fucked,” Noa told us. “He probably did the one of the better straighties ever. It wasn’t even his biggest one, but he kicked the tail out so perfect. You can tell he just has that knowledge. Him and his brother. those are like the OG dudes! Yesterday, as soon as he got out there he did a full rote. Then today, he went out under pressure and did a sick. His heat was so sick to see. It got all the lads fired up.
Jake Vincent, in heat five of round one did one of the more impressive airs of the event. We’ll let Chip explain.
“Our good mate Vinny just did a huge shut it rotation,” said Chip. “It was crazy!”
A wrap of round two and six man final will follow up this post when the event ends.
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