Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chapter 6--Team Trials

Tuesday was the start of team trials. In this phase of the competition, team members compete in 4-person heats in the following classes:

Junior’s (under 18) High Performance (HP) – 1 slot/team
Junior’s International Class (IC) – 1 slot
Women’s HP – 2 slots
Women’s IC – 2 slots
Men’s HP – 3 slots
Men’s IC – 3 slots
Master’s (over 40) HP – 2 slots
Master’s IC – 2 slots

The way the scoring works is that you get 1 point for a first place finish in a heat, 2 points for a second, 3 for a third, 4 for a 4th, and 5 if you don’t enter a competitor. Lower scores are better.

Each team member can compete in a maximum of 2 events. So you can see that with a team of 6, we’d only be able to fill 12 of 16 competition slots, thus conceding 20 points off the bat.

Twelve teams were competing, most with full teams. There was a first round, after which the top 8 teams would compete again and the scores would be combined for final rankings. Finally, the top 4 teams compete again in the finals--unlikely for us without a full team.

I was competing in Men’s and Master’s HP. Thus, I would compete in 2 more heats at least, then 2 more if we were in the top 8. They were running the competition on two sites on the beach. There was a bit of a panic when we realized that, because of the offset in timing between the two sites, I was scheduled to compete simultaneously at both sites. Fortunately, just as we discovered this and informed the judges at one of the sites, the competition at the other site was postponed for 2 hours for a longboard competition. Problem solved.

My teammates were amazing, scoring mostly firsts and seconds in their heats. My turn in Master’s HP rolled around, and I have to say that my head was in a much better place this time compared to my first competition heat. I’d had time to do some free surfing in the intervening days, and Jim and the rest of the team had been giving me intensive coaching. Nonetheless, I finished up in 4th, though I was in third right up until the end. I was bummed. Because of the long delay, the Men’s HP division was pushed off until early the next morning, after which team scores were to be tabulated and we’d launch right into the semifinal round of 8. We were pretty close to 8th, but it wasn’t a sure thing.

Early Wednesday morning we showed up at the beach. I surfed pretty well in my heat, and of course Jeff and Jim kicked butt, so then we had to wait for the results, which were: USA West in 8th! We were through to the semis!

Once again we were in 2 sites on the beach. My two heats were separated by 15 minutes. First up was Master’s. I got a good ride off the bat, with my teammates screaming and yelling and waving the Stars and Stripes on the beach–it was a fantastic feeling. In the end, I scored a 3rd! Major coolness. Then it was into shore to turn in my jersey (competitors get color-coded jerseys so the judges know who to score) and then sprint up the beach to get my new jersey and then into my boat for the next heat. My teammates dragged my boat to the second site, and then I was ready to go. I decided to go for the biggest waves, which worked to the extent that I caught them, though I really didn’t do anything with my rides. So yet another 4th for me.

Nonetheless, at the end of the day, the entire team surfed fantastic, and we actually moved up one spot to 7th. (Call me Mr. 7th, I guess.)

Jeff tearing it up:

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