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O.C. surfers go big
Up against the best in the west, Orange County surfers went big Sunday in a Surfing America Prime contest at San Clemente's T-Street Beach.
They took three of the event's five division titles. Ten of the 20 finalists were from Orange County.
Kanoa Igarashi of Huntington Beach won the Boys Under 18 division and took second in Boys Under 16. Colt Ward of San Clemente won Boys Under 16. Tia Blanco of San Clemente won Girls Under 16 and took second in Girls Under 18. John Mel of Newport Beach was runner-up in Boys Under 14.
"The waves were pretty tough," Ward said after successfully dueling Igarashi down to the wire in the Boys Under 16 final. "They were pretty weak. It was just a battle of whoever could find the waves."
Igarashi, almost tasting victory in Boys Under 16, pulled out a last-minute victory in Boys Under 18 over Parker Coffin of Santa Barbara in a razor-close final that made for a dramatic climax to a contest webcast viewed worldwide.
Coffin and Igarashi traded the lead, Igarashi taking it on a 9.5 ride (out of a possible 10) and Coffin retaking it with a 9.8. With 90 seconds to go in the 20-minute heat, Igarashi needed a 7 to win, and there wasn't much out there. Coffin, trying to block Igarashi from catching a last-minute bomb, inadvertently let him have one.
"I knew I had to go big," Igarashi said. "It was actually a pretty bad wave, and Parker was sitting on me. But he didn't see any scoring potential on it. I didn't either, but there wasn't that much time left so I was like, it's either this wave or no wave. I just ended up going on the wave and just gave it my all."
An aerial reverse got him the score. "The scary thing was," he said, "right when I was paddling back out Parker got a really good wave. He went for a big air and, if he'd have pulled it, he probably would have gotten the score."
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