April 4, 2010
'Three Amigos' surf to semis
BY HILLARD GROSSMAN
The Three Amigos are back.
Jake Kirschenbaum, Kyle Garson and David Awbrey -- who, among them, swept the Ron Jon Easter
Surf Festival's pro division eight consecutive years until Blake Jones snapped the streak in 2008 -- advanced to today's 11:20 a.m. semifinal at the Cocoa Beach Pier. They will be joined by Jones' older brother, Justin.
"This contest is always a blast," said Kirschenbaum, 23, of Cocoa Beach. "I kind of got my first big break here, with all the media and the people. A lot of my friends usually are surfing here, too. Good stuff."
While "K-baum" spent most of his offseason working and studying, Garson was avoiding the area's wind chill and tiny waves by spending much of the winter in Costa Rica and making his first visit to the British Virgin Islands.
"It was beautiful there," said Garson, who stayed with Justin Jones at a hotel with a couple of gravesites outside of his window. "We were just checking the (surfing) potential there."
Saturday, in the $3,000 Steven G. Casanova Men's Shortboard Pro, Garson and Jones won both of their heats, patiently waiting until chest-high waves approached the pier's wooden pylons.
Tayler Brothers and Mark Dawson also won both of their heats, and joined Jeremy Johnston and Alan Burke in the other semifinal.
In the Ron Jon Surf Shop Women's Shortboard Open, Indialantic's Nikki Viesins, 14, advanced to today's 9 a.m. semifinals, where she will face three girls named Chelsea: Chelsea Graham, Chelsea Tuach and Chelsea Roett.
"It was small out there, but you've got to get your hits, even though there's only a couple of sets," Viesins said. "Surfing against my friends only makes you strive to surf harder. But it's a blast."
Melbourne's Corey Howell and Merritt Island's Sam Duggan led the way into the semifinals of the Ron Jon Surf Shop Boys (14-under) Shortboard Open. Howell, 14, grabbed perhaps the best wave of the day, riding a long left about 100 yards, then finally turning in close to the shore. He even impressed Kirschenbaum.
"He's a little guy, but he's rippin' with those full turns," he said.
Cocoa Beach's Skyler Baker, 11, entered the boys division as a last-minute alternate when another surfer failed to show. Baker made the best of it, advancing to the semifinals.
Asked if he woke up early Saturday feeling powerful, he replied, "I always feel powerful."
Saving the pelican
Christian Bernard, a Cape Surf employee, and Sean Volland, a 30-year veteran of the Easter Surf Festival, rushed into the water during a women's heat to free a pelican caught in a fishing line by the pier.
It was the second save by Bernard this week, and "about the 40th" for Volland in his career.
"You've got to be careful because they'll bite and scratch you," Volland said.
"Usually, some idiot is trying to reel him in on their line," Bernard noted.
Both received warm applause.
"I think it was probably more exciting than what we doing out there," laughed Savannah Bradley, who was knocked out of the event by an early paddling interference.
Getting a grip
San Diego's Mike Sick introduced his invention, called "Surf Grip," that provides bodysurfers with a "performance-enhancing" flotation device. The expandable polyurethane grips sell for about $20-$25 a set.
"We're still in a state of discovery," Sick said. "I call them the world's smallest bodyboards."
The high-tech Best Buy trailer at the pier allows consumers to watch 3D television and play in racing simulators. It moves to Texas in two weeks to support Best Buy driver A.J. Allmendinger at the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. . . . The Monster Energy tent was pumping up the jam with its own DJ scratching records to such hits as "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. . . . It got so warm in the afternoon, Eddie Guilbeau had Mark Dawson cut half the sleeves off of his wet suit.
See schedule online at FloridaToday.com