The UCSB surf team will head into the State Championships riding a first place team victory in the team’s latest event at the Huntington Beach Pier. Though now on top, the Gauchos have seen their share of ups and downs throughout this season.

Santa Barbara began the year by winning just the Long Board Competition on Oct. 22 and 23 at Blacks Beach in San Diego. Josh Gandulla took the unanimous win in the season opener but overall the UCSB Gold team came in ninth place, the White team took 12th and Blue was in 13th.

“It’s like a four-month break between seasons, so sometimes it just takes a bit for us to get it going,” senior captain Milby Shannon said.

In the second event of the season, Santa Barbara found itself climbing the ranks at Seaside Reef, placing UCSB Gold sixth, Blue 11th and White 18th. The Gauchos’ rise was due in part to sophomore Jackie DeRieux’s fourth-place finish in the College Women’s event as well as Kevin Osborne and Gandulla’s second and fourth place finishes in the Long Board Competition.

Santa Barbara was unfortunate when Finals Week of Fall Quarter landed right at the time of the team’s scheduled third contest.

“Normally about 16 short boarders go, but I think like four went and none of our long boarders,” senior Parker McMullin said.

But it was at their latest event on Jan. 15th where everything came together for the Gauchos, as UCSB Gold took first place by nine points over SDSU Black and Mira Costa Red.

“We kind of felt like we surfed to our potential,” senior Peter Kuriyama said. “We hadn’t been at our last three contests. We had a solid team effort.”

The first place charge was lead by Osborne, taking first place in the Long Board Competition along with the Gandulla coming in fourth.

“We also had three short boarders get pretty far,” Kuriyama said. “That’s pretty nice, and Jackie placed in the women’s. It’s good to have that balance.”

Jackie DeRieux came in fourth place again in the College Women’s event. UCSB also had multiple short boarders advance in the Men’s Division, which was where Santa Barbara had struggled through the season to this point.

“The waves were about two to three feet; it was kind of windy, kind of choppy,” McMullin said. “The waves were really rip-able, you could say, and I think our surfers are some of the better surfers.”

Up next for UCSB surf is the State Championships which will be held at the Huntington Beach Pier from March 9 to 11.

“We’re all going to take it as another contest and just surf as much as we can,” DeRieux said. “It will be my first state finals because the tsunami warning last year they had to cancel it.”