2015 FISHBOWL CLASSIC

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For four years and running Nate Yeomans’ Fishbowl Classic has captured the essence of everything a down-home surf comp should be by illuminating surf stars, buck-toothed grommets, supportive parents and all the other threads that weave the rich tapestry that is the San Clemente surf scene.

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“The waves were pretty marginal at best, but the turnout was awesome, said Yeomans, who will be competing this week as a Wildcard at the Oakley Lowers Pro. “The kids were stoked and the band was jamming. We had more kids show up this year, as well as more pros.”

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With rain threatening Saturday morning’s rounds, 24 teams for a total of 48 surfers nonetheless showed up to throw down at Riviera. The format’s simple enough: Kids from the Shorecliffs Middle School surf team are paired with a pro teammate. The grom’s score counts as a “double whammy,” or twice the pro’s score. “The groms were ripping the hardest,” said Yeomans. “It was low tide and kind of funky Rivi, but the kids were ripping and that’s what separated the teams that did well in the end. All the pros surfed well, but there were some really inspired performances from the kids, which is a lot of fun to see. It’s why we do this.”

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Besides local fixtures like Pat Gudauskas, Kolohe Andino, Luke Davis and Ian Crane, the roster of pros featured an all-star lineup. Former Women’s World Champ Lisa Andersen, Leila Hurst, Kirra Pinkerton and Tia Blanco stepped up as formidable teammates and positive role models for the four local girls that participated; while Hawaiian pros Sebastian Zietz, Zeke Lau, Keanu Asing, Mason Ho and Granger Larsen came to represent the islands. “Of all things, the Hawaiian contingent was at the event early,” laughed Yeomans. “All of them were ready, like, on the beach, good to go, and there wasn’t a single California kid in sight. I was impressed. They brought the passion.”

Tracking pro surfers is akin to wrangling cats, which makes Yeomans’ ability to rally the troops all the more remarkable. “There was serious text messaging going down,” said Yeomans. “There’s the locals, who are my friends, then there’s the ‘CT guys and out-of-towners and everyone in between. Some showed, some didn’t. Some were on time, some were late. But in the end, it worked out perfectly.”

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An addition this year, the “OG Respect” Expression Session brought Mike Losness, Rusty Long, Dane Ward, Geoff Brack and Noah Budroe back to the trenches. “In a respectful way,” said Yeomans, “having the older generation there for the kids to see who came before them… it was great to have them be a part of it.”

Five heats of Boys, the OG Expression Session, then a Boys and Girls final was all it took; by midday the contest was done and dusted. Crane and Hagan Johnson took top honors in the Boys, Kirra Pinkerton and Alexxa Elseewi won the Girls, and Brack took out the Expression Session. “We pretty much had it packed up, then the rain started coming,” said Yeomans. “It couldn’t have worked out any better. It was a special day.”

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