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O.C. surfers win APSS surf series in Huntington
The final stop for the American Pro Surfing Series went down in Huntington Beach on Saturday, with two Orange County surfers taking home the series titles.
Huntington Beach's Chris Waring and Newport's Erica Hosseini earned the most points during the past three events to win the inaugural championship, after taking on challenging and chilly conditions on the south side of the pier.
Waring won the final event and stop number two to accumulate the most points out to take the win. It was a tight race between Waring and San Clemente's Chris Ward, who also made it to the finals on Saturday.
"I feel great. I'm just stoked," Waring said. "I felt good before the final. I just went into it like any other day, I just felt relaxed. I was just like ... I'm going to surf my best. Whatever happens, happens."
Conditions were clean in the morning, but challenges appeared through the day with a high tide in the morning, and a numbing cold wind that crept up by the quarter-finals that put some wobbly texture on the 2-3-foot surf.
"I woke up early and cleaned my wax, changed my fins for smaller conditions," Waring said. "I just felt really good and it all worked out. It was tough towards the semi-finals. I just got lucky and found some corners."
"I hope (the series) sticks around, it's a great venue for local pros," he said. "It's a good platform for the kids to see what the level is and to work towards that."
Hosseini came in second place in the final event, behind Santa Barbara's Demi Boelsterli. Still, the Newport surfer was beaming after being crowned series champ.
"It is an amazing series – I'm just stoked to be a part of it. I live in Newport, obviously the town next door, so I kind of consider it my local break as well," she said.
Hosseini won the first event, but sustained a shoulder injury during the second event. It was neck-and-neck between Hosseini and fellow Newport surfer Kaleigh Gillcrist – who came in third during the finals – for the series championship, with Hosseini nabbing the most points and taking the title.
"I can't wait to do this again next year. It's a great way to end the year, and start the new tour next year," Hosseini said. "It's a good confidence booster for sure."
There were plenty of other stand-out surfers from Orange County, like Huntington's Derek Peters, Jason Harris and Brad Ettinger, and Newport's Andrew Doheny, who all made it to the semi-finals before facing elimination.
The events allow local surfers to compete close to home, rather than travel across the world for contests. There are few contests in the nation for surfers hoping to move up the ranks to be a professional surfer.
Organizer Scott Waring said the series turned out exactly like he envisioned, and said he expects next year's contest to kick off in April. For now, the series will remain at three stops, but he's hoping to increase the prize money.
San Clemente surfer Nate Yeomans, the highest-ranked professional surfer to show up for the contest, said he hopes to one day see the event expand.
"It's a good starting block in Huntington, not a bad place to start it all," he said. "It could be cool to see a couple events up and down the coast – maybe in San Diego or Northern California."
It was the first time Yeomans had surfed in the event, and he placed second behind Chris Waring.
It was a great vibe at the awards ceremony – held at Sandy's Beach Grill – with the winning surfers getting doused with beer from their fellow competitors.
Yeomans said the event helps keep his competitive skills sharp while the ASP pro circuit is on hold, but also it's a great event to mix in the younger generation with some of the best pros in America.
He remembers back in the day when he was coming up, there were much more opportunities for him to prove himself than the kids have today.
"I think it's a good stepping block for the kids," he said. "I think it's really cool for the young guys – there are not many pro events, so it's really cool for them to come down and surf against some of the best guys in America. I think it's a gap that needs to be filled."
For more info on the series, go to americanprosurfingseries.com
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