After taking second place at this year’s National Scholastic Surfing Association’s State Championships March 20-21, UCSB’s surfing team is eyeing the familiar once more: a berth to the National Championships to be held June 18-19 in Dana Point.
Though the surf was a “small and slow 1-3 feet,” according to co-captain Carter Andersen, the performances were still electric. Santa Barbara beat-out defending National Champion UC San Diego at San Onofre’s Church Beach to secure the runner-up spot. Mira Costa Community College turned in an impressive showing to repeat as State Champions.
“[Mira Costa] looked very good. We had some bad breaks, and we didn’t surf as well as we would’ve liked,” Andersen said. “We know that we can beat them, though.”
Brenden Castile won the longboarding competition, and Bianca Valenti took third in the collegiate women’s overall division. The Gauchos’ B team placed a respectable ninth behind a bevy of the surfing world’s collegiate powerhouses.
UCSB’s surfers will be carving the waves as much as possible between now and June 18-19 in preparation for Dana Point. Though both east coast and west coast teams will compete at the 26th NSSA National Championships, it’s long been known that the title must come through California first. Many experts expect that nationals will simply turn into a rehash of the state championships with one of the top three taking the crown. UCSD, which took last year’s NSSA crown, has revitalized a program that once went toe-to-toe with Santa Barbara in the 90s. As state champion, Mira Costa will be the team to beat. Other California schools will also be looking for an upset.
“We’re going to be surfing as much as possible until nationals, getting little practices together whenever possible. If we surf the way we can, we can win it all.” Andersen said. “It’s really up to us.”
If the Gauchos can follow through on their promise, they might just bring home another trophy for their already impressive case. As the collegiate surfing program with the most wins in the nation, Santa Barbara hopes this year to finally use the word “dozen” when describing its number of national championships. The Gauchos’ last title came in 2001, and only at UCSB would three years without a title be considered a drought.
“We’re going to need big performances from our shortboarders,” Andersen said when asked what the biggest factor would be at Dana Point. The shortboard program, considered the marquee event of any surfing competition, is rewarded more points than either longboard or boogie board. Santa Barbara’s own shortboarders have been consistent throughout the season, but to win it all they’ll need something more at nationals. The six man shortboard squad, led by Andersen, can’t afford to underachieve again in June.
“Our team’s looking forward to it,” Andersen said. “As always, there’s going to be some good surfing.”