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Easter Surf Fest Wrap-up 2010

April 4, 2010

'Three Amigos' surf to semis


The Three Amigos are back.esfbilde

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."

Board shorts

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


Surf-Grip at Easter Surf Fest 2010

April 2, 2010

New events provide fun for all


It seems Dick Catri has found a solution to the flat waves that wiped out the finals in last year's Ron Jon Easter Surf Festival.

Bodysurfing will be one of the new events at this weekend's 46th annual event at Shepard Park and the Cocoa Beach Pier.

"No, it's not because of that," laughed Catri, who with John Griffin, co-
produces the three-day event, which begins today at both sites.

"We've added a lot more things this year," Catri said. "What we've tried to do is make the event more fun, and open it up to people of all ages. From 12-under to over-60, there is an opportunity to surf against those in the same age."

The bodysurfing contest, at the Cocoa Beach Pier, will feature the introduction of the new East Coast Surf-Grip, a foam flotation device bodysurfers may use. Each of the men's and women's divisions feature a $500 purse.

There also will be a standup paddleboard surfing event at Shepard Park and a skimboard contest at the pier.

Catri has added a kitesurfing exhibition, a surf school and the usual Easter egg hunts for kids.

The main events are the $5,000 Ron Jon Men's Longboard Pro-Am and the $3,000 Steven G. Casanova Men's Shortboard Pro.

Finals are set for Sunday at both locations, with 10 events at the pier and six at the park.

"We've had a lot of East Coast champions come through here, and the level of surfing that it's generating has (blossomed) throughout the entire East Coast," Catri said.

The Ron Jon Easter Surf Festival is the third longest-running contest in the world, behind Bells Beach, Australia (the world's best pros are surfing there this week in the 50th annual event) and the East Coast Championships in Virginia Beach
(47 years old).

Last year's flat waves marked the first time the Ron Jon's finals were canceled because of that.

"We've never stopped this because the waves were too big, either," Catri joked. "But, really, one time in 46 years, that's not a bad record."

Each of the finalists split the prize money last year.

"They all enjoyed that," Catri said. "Never got one complaint. They know this isn't Sunset Beach."

Forecasts call for 2- to 3-foot waves this weekend with warm temperatures and sunny skies.

The Space Coast Office of Tourism estimates 100,000 people will check out parts of the event.

"It's Easter weekend, the beginning of spring, spring break, and people are sick and tired of being inside," Catri said. "It's time to start enjoying Florida. Hopefully, we'll have some good waves."

Contact Grossman at 242-3676 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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