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Kauai’s Melamed switches gears, advances

  • BERNIE BAKER / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
    Using a shorter board in the second round, Nage Melamed maneuvered her way to a win in her heat.
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A lot of success in professional surf contests comes from choosing the right equipment for the conditions.

Nage Melamed, 17, proved that at the Cholo’s Women’s Hawaiian Pro yesterday. The surf at Alii Beach Park dropped dramatically from Monday for the opening rounds of competition in the first jewel of the women’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing presented by Rockstar Energy Drinks.

"The waves (yesterday) were really small," said Melamed of the 3- to 6-foot wave faces at Haleiwa. "In the morning there were a couple of sets coming through and it was pretty fun. Throughout the day the swell was kind of dying and in my last heat we seriously had maybe one good wave in the heat. It was ridiculous."

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» On our web: Check out The Pulse’s special Surf’s Up! North Shore 2010 report at honolulupulse.com, where you’ll find a complete rundown of Vans Triple Crown of Surfing events, as well as shopping, dining and surf-watching tips.

In the first round of the Cholo’s Women’s Hawaiian Pro, Melamed rode a board built for overhead waves. She barely advanced out of that heat in second place with a two-wave total of 12.43 out of a possible 20 points. After, she decided to leave the beach to grab a shorter board.

"(Yesterday) morning I actually rode a big board because I thought it was going to be big," said Melamed. "But there wasn’t many waves, so I ran back home and grabbed my smaller board. You definitely needed a small wave board (yesterday)."

Melamed won her wave-starved second-round heat with a two-wave total of 6.43 on a 5-foot, 5-inch swallowtail shaped by Makani McDonald on the Monstah label. There were only eight waves ridden in that heat, and Melamed was on four of them.

"You can do a lot more turns and the waves are smaller so you can fit your turns in the pocket and you can get a lot more speed," said Melamed of the benefits of riding a shorter board. "With the bigger boards it’s more about power turns and bigger arcs."

While she attributes the size and shape of her board to her success yesterday, perhaps it could have been something a lot more sentimental about her board.

On Melamed’s board, written in big, black, bold letters was: "Always with us A.I.," a tribute to the memory of three-time ASP world champion Andy Irons.

" ‘Always with us A.I.’ means that he’s always with us in the water," said the Kauai native of her board’s artwork that celebrates Irons’ influence on the younger generation. "He’s up there smiling and looking down on us."

Melamed grew up surfing at Pine Trees, which is the home break of Andy and Bruce Irons. She also participated in the Irons brothers annual keiki contest and looked up to both of them. According to Melamed, dealing with Andy’s death is hard, but inspirational.

"I went back to Kauai for the funeral and it was so sad, but the setup was beautiful," she said about Sunday’s memorial service. "I was happy to see so many people showing up for him because he touched so many people’s lives. So hopefully the Hawaii surfers can bring home the Triple Crown for Andy."

 

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