Stab Magazine | Cosmic Creek And The Case For The Homegrown Surf Event

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Cosmic Creek And The Case For The Homegrown Surf Event

A collection of pretty people, boards and bluebird skies: scenes from Vissla’s Retro Shred Fest at Salt Creek.

style // Jun 5, 2018
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

“This is just a taste of it,” Vissla’s Vince De La Pena said of the more than four dozen vintage beauties his biz partner and longtime industry head Paul Naude trucked down for competitors at Vissla’s Cosmic Creek Retro Shred Fest.

Naude’s deep archive comprises one of the only true Million Dollar Surfboard Collections in the world, which we must admit is an inspired and envy-inducing place to invest that much cheddar.

“The collection’s insane. Cataloged, organized. He knows every board in the collection.”

With each division’s heats rotating between twin-and single-fins, competitors pulled cards to decide who got to the pick of Naude’s fiberglass litter, selecting equipment and battling it out on vintage T&C and Hobie twinnies or Herbie Fletcher and Brewer single fins, for two very warm, very picturesque Dana Point days. 

On Saturday, As more than 400 firefighters fought brushfires in Aliso Viejo and Tope of the World, Cosmic Creek saw clear skies and pulses of south swell saunter in, lefts peeling off the southern rockpile of the point. The gathered crowd enjoyed shaping demonstrations from Donald Brink, tie-dyed their own Thomas Campbell shirts from the event, and pumped their fists to live sets from Southern California teen sensations Hypnosis and The Alive (who melted hearts at the Founder’s Cup, taking the stage with Steph Gilmore), the tiny titans belting out Sabbath and Dio, ripping through their ’80s repertoire in the blazing Laguna sand. 

As the first day of competition wound down, the crowd moved off the beach and up onto the soft grass amphitheater above, as The Night Beats, and TOPS ushered in the sunset with full sets, and had Dana Point and Laguna Beach’s finest off their blankets and in the grass up front dancing, a couple hundred pretty young things swaying in the cool late-afternoon breeze. 

Now, if you’re anything like me, surely you’ve had similar competitive fantasies: Watching vintage clips from the ’70s and ’80s, cursing the arbitrariness of fate. If we’d just been born a decade or two earlier, imagine… That given a time machine, a beak-nosed number and an open face you would soar to such great heights. That we could have dominated back in the day, wiggling on single fins and twinnies with a few cheeky lippers and a 360 or two to demonstrate your progressive, radical streak…

Well let me tell you, it ain’t that easy. After nabbing a spot last minute, I took former event winner Simon Hetrick’s advice, and snuck into the Semifinals on a winged Sunshine swallow tail single fin, before getting absolutely smoked first thing Sunday morning on a Robert August kneeboard, getting hustled by a few guys taking the event very seriously, indeed.

Sunday morning, while enjoying an Americano from Bear Flag Coffee’s lovely beachfront espresso set up, …Lost Generation Hall of Famers John “Robo” Robertson and Aaron “Gorkin” Cormican argued over board choice for the Creators and Innovators division, which pitted six two-man teams of board builders and their ace riders (riding their own handshape) against each other. 


Gorkin, Robo, and the great surfboard debate of June 2nd, 2018.

“Are you kidding me? I built this thing in 24 hours for today!” Robo said of the black and pink winged single-fin he’d cobbled for he and his ringer, before he and Gorkin went out and demolished their first round heat, while Danny Hess and Cliff Kapono, Tyler Warren and Kolton Sullivan (aka “White Buttons” for his crimped blonde ‘fro and penchant for both backside and frontside carving 360s), Travis Reynolds and Vissla’s own Corban Campbell, and Jason Bennet and Kevin Schulz ripped the bag out of the playful surf. 

As the event wound down yesterday, Vissla’s Eric Mehlberg announced winners, crowing Jason Bennet yet again the Creators and Innovators winner, while Kevin Schulz edged out Cole Houshmand in the “performers” division (read: pros, basically), both goofyfoots driving through the summer slop and punting airs on tiny ’80s twins in the final, while John Robertson put up a hell of a fight, taking home third, with Tyler Warren, Corey Colapinto, and Andy Nieblas rounded out the final, respectively. 

With the 20th Cosmic Creek Retro Shred Fest in the bag, surfers rapped about their favorite boards as the Vissla squad lugged all fifty boards into the Penske truck the massive haul required, the truck piled high, and surely needing a healthy amount of repairs before next year’s event. 

Scroll south for a look at one of the best homegrown surf fests running, and we’d recommend making it out to next year’s event. 


Perennial Cosmic Creek Creator and Innovator, Jason Bennet took home the win with Orange County’s Kevin Schulz, both ripping on one of Bennet’s keel-finned twinnies.


Sam Moody.


This image is not a Vissla advertisement.


Pat O’Connell at his hometown stomping ground.


TOPS is a band Stab enjoys, plug ’em into your Spotify.


Life moves slow in Dana Point. Most restaurants close at 10 pm with the exception of a few bars down PCH and in the harbor. But, every once in a while, the Salt Creek hill lights up with the energy of a music festival and the youth come out to play.


A large batch of surfboards is unoffensive viewing.


Local twin and single fin enthusiasts, Tyler Warren and Andy Neiblas, groove on a sunny day.


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