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Jaquias takes NSSA title

  • DANIEL IKAIKA ITO / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
    Kaimana Jaquias made the most of the mush burgers at Huntington Beach.
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Kaimana Jaquias won the coveted 2010 National Scholastic of Surfing Association Open Men’s Championship Saturday at Huntington Beach, Calif.

The 17-year-old from Kauai, nicknamed Mana Boy, brings the title back to Hawaii after its two-year hiatus in California. Kaimana’s name is added to the list of past champions that includes his father, former World Championship Tour surfer Kaipo Jaquias.

"I’m glad my name is up there with my dad," Kaimana said on stage, after the final, wearing the Hawaiian Sovereignty flag on his shoulders. "I’m stoked — first year at Huntington."

The NSSA National Championships returned to Huntington Beach this year after a two decades elsewhere. It wasn’t easy for Jaqiuas to capture the Mayor’s Cup. Onshore winds turned the waves into 2-to 3-foot mush burgers and Jaquias’ fellow finalists — Conner Coffin, Parker Coffin and Evan Geisleman — surfed fiercely in the final. This was the first time in NSSA history that two brothers, Conner and Parker Coffin, competed in an open men’s final heat.

"Before I went out, I thought (the Coffin brothers) were going to pull tactics, but it seemed like they were competing against each other more than anyone else," Jaquias said.

Jaqiuas took control of the final early, scoring an 8.25 out of a possible 10 points. He received the score on a right from the Pier Bowl, seamlessly connecting a series of turns and blowing out the tail on the end section. While Jaquias sat in first place by putting down a 2.3 ride, the eldest Coffin brother, Conner, nailed 6.5- and 6-point rides.

"There weren’t that many waves and it came down to who was going to get the better waves," Conner said.

In the last 5 minutes of the final, Conner Coffin led, leaving Jaqiuas searching for a score. With 4 minutes to go, the ocean looked flat and it seemed like Conner would win. Then Kaimana’s great grandmother, who lives in Newport Beach and came to Huntington with a huge crew, started praying, singing and chanting loudly. It was heavy to hear more than a dozen Hawaiian voices in unison.

"I kind of thought I had it because it looked pretty flat," Conner said. "I let (Kaimana) go, and when I was out there I honestly didn’t think it was a wave, it was a tiny, little (wave) and I guess he ripped the bag out of it."

A medium-sized, right-breaking nugget appeared out of nowhere. Kaimana shredded it to pieces, scoring a 5.85 to win the title in the final minute of the heat with a two-wave total of 14.10 out of a possible 20 points. Conner Coffin claimed runner-up, Parker was third and Evan Geisleman finished fourth.

"I was just praying to God that I could get another wave and luckily I took off on that little one and got the score," Jaquias said, his great grandma and cheering section still singing in the background. "This (the NSSA Open Men’s title) is for the Hawaiians."

 

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