Northwest Clean Water Classic 2004
Minus B.C.'s Bruwilers, Oregonians Romp
by Drew Kampion
Westport, Washington – The weather forecast was calling for 23-foot swells with 25-knot SW winds and occasional torrential rain, but the reality was much better and highly appreciated. This 3rd Northwest Clean Water Classic (headline sponsor now Ocean Pacific), held at the Cove and Groins on the weekend of March 6th and 7th, was surprisingly convivial for the season.
Winds prevailed generally SW and mostly offshore for the two days, and the Cove offered up some sucking Puerto Escondido-style beach-break barrels on Saturday, while the surf at the Groins was only slightly more organized and relatively gutless on both days.
At dawn on Saturday, the Cove was disorganized and sketchy, but as the tide rose, wave quality improved. The Men’s Pro-Am started slow, but soon the lads were ripping, notably Steve Martin, Mike Stupka, Joe Seeger, Joel Smith, Morgan Soloer, and Guto Cynha. A Westport local, Martin got the wave of the contest during the Pro-Am semi-finals ... but he wasn’t in the heat. He just happened to be surfing in the vicinity of the competitors and pulled off an amazing ride that included a cover-up to a 360 aerial. Pretty sick.
The Longboard Masters had a tough time sorting out a lineup at the Cove early in the day (where Kris Van Gieson snapped his new board in half on the very first wave of his heat), which helped to inspire the shift of venue to the Groins, which were said to be firing but weren’t.
As a result, the Longboard Mens and Masters sessions were pretty anticlimactic but with more consistent performances.
On Sunday, there was some nice surfing in the Women’s Longboard division (dominated by Rachel Ward) and the Juniors (won by Chris May) at the Groins, where the judges viewed the action from the third floor of The Islander Resort (at the Cove, the judges sat on the back of a U-Haul moving truck to escape the wind and rain).
In the Women’s Shortboard finals, Leah Oke did her part to keep the Canadian fires burning as the Vancouver Island local confidently ripped at the Groins to win $100 and a new Excel wetsuit.
A final trio of man-on-man Pro-Am shortboard heats featured the most outstanding surf when the event returned to the Cove late on Sunday. There, Dan Chamberlain of Astoria edged out Olympia’s James Collins in a close semi-final heat. Then, Chamberlain’s Oregon buddy, Ben Harper (from Seaside ... and, no, he’s not), went toe to toe with Marc Mildner (of Bend) in the tightest heat of the event. After a fairly intense exchange in clean 3-5-foot surf, Harper won by 1/100th of a point and advanced, making it an all-Oregon final, which was again won narrowly by Harper. This was the first NW shortboard event in some time not won by either Raph or Sepp Bruhwiler of Vancouver Island, and Harper collected a neat $500 for the honor.
The action then returned once again to the Groins for the Men’s and Masters’ Longboard finals, won by Derek Parker and Chris Speakman respectively in solid performances.
The Ocean Pacific Northwest Clean Water Classic was produced by the Surfrider Foundation’s Northwest chapters, and once again there were monster volunteer efforts by numerous activists, including coordinators Jodi Mau and Kerry Carnahan. Scott Bullock was the man on the beach, keeping the show running on time, while staging his usual personal foul-weather enduro. Surfrider Regional Coordinator Kevin Ranker (a candidate for San Juan County commissioner!) handled the emcee chores, mixing in bird-calls and humorous barbs to his favorite background mix, “Music To Make Babies By.”
One-time Huntington Beach denizen Sonny Owens (now of Yakima) was back as head judge; his stalwart group of appraisers included long-time Northwest surfers Tom Burns and Randy Carman and Plastic Fantastic Surfboards cofounder Dan Calohan.
Thanks to Neddie Rose and the Islander crew for great hospitality (let’s make the awards ceremony no-smoking next year!), and huge thanks to all the shops and companies that donated goods for the silent auction and effusive auction, notably Bryan Bates of Oregon for building and donating a Wookie model surfboard at the last minute to crown the drawing and festivities at the 2004 Northwest Clean Water Classic. The great thing about this annual event is that there’s something for everyone, and (given such a small window of opportunity) this year’s contest delivered.
Here are some frame grabs from the Westport comp. Keep in mind these are from the video so the quality is not great. I should have some video soon.
Adrian Nelson - Slanted Media
Drew Kampion lives on Whidbey Island and has written such surf classics as;
» The Book of Waves
» Stoked! A History of Surf Culture
» The Lost Coast
» The Way of the Surfer
» Stormrider Guide North America
Visit him at drewkampion.com
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