An estimated 7,500 spectators attended the 2012 Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu Surf Contest on a hot and sunny Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18 and 19.
The event ended with Coast Guard surfer Matt Merel winning the Military Division for the fourth year in a row and Ventura’s Dane Reynolds winning the Open Division just weeks after being named to the Surfers’ Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach.
“It’s great being able to surf here all weekend,” said Reynolds. “And with all the best surfers being here, it’s all worthwhile.”
The surfing beach at Point Mugu is considered to be one of the best in Southern California because it faces south and has a submarine canyon and sandbars that give it a unique, big wave. The fact that it is open to the public for only two days a year makes this contest popular — the Open Division was full three days after registration began.
“It’s great that we can take our little slice of heaven and open it to the community,” said Capt. Larry Vasquez, commanding officer of NBVC. “It’s also a good opportunity to show off the base.”
In all, 142 surfers competed over the two days.
Merel, a machinery technician 2nd class with the Coast Guard in Bodega Bay, edged out two other Coast Guard surfers and an Air Force officer to win the Military Men’s final for the fourth straight year. His biggest challenge came from fellow Coast Guardsman Kuilee Murphy, who scored a perfect 10 earlier in the competition and ended with the best average heat points at 18, compared to Merel’s 15.90. Also in the finals were Coast Guardsman Simon Blanco and Chris Stacy, a major with the Air Force Reserve Command.
Lt. Cmdr. Justin Hawkins, serving with Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 55 at NBVC Point Mugu, was the hometown favorite and made it to the semi-finals. Also competing from the base were Lt. j.g. Henry Pollock of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4; Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Joseph Baranski of Naval Munitions Center, Detachment Point Mugu; Chief Utilitiesman Miguel Fernandez of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5; and Command Master Chief Jon Smedley of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113.
In the Women’s Division, Ensign Angelita Noche was the first military woman to make the finals in the five-year history of the event. She finished second, with Demi Boelsterli in first and Kloee Openshaw in third. The women surf in one combined division that includes professional, amateur, junior and military women.
Jake Kelley defended his title in the Juniors Division for competitors 17 and younger, winning for the third consecutive year. The age requirement will move him into the open for next year’s event.
Reynolds scored a couple of perfect 10 scores on his way to winning the Men’s Open Division. Cory Arrambide, Jeremy Ryan and Mike McCabe also made the finals as they progressed through a stacked field of more than 80 professionals and amateurs. Past World Champion Tom Curren surfed along with son Pat, aerial innovator Christian Fletcher, Surfing magazine Shaper of the Year Robert Weiner and local pros Arrambide, Sean Hayes and Adam Virs.
Live music Saturday featured Banned from the Beach, Groove Persona and Big Junior Little. Sunday was Reggae Day, featuring Jah Mon Soul, Rising Son, The Divine Crime and Reggae Hall of Fame artist Pato Banton.
This year’s surf contest was presented by Navy Region Southwest Sustainable Solid Waste Management Program, which filled the beach with a message to “reduce, reuse, recycle” on everything from competitor jerseys to the main stage.
Sponsors included Revolution Surf Co., Domino’s Pizza, Chiquita, Channel Islands Logistics, PODS, SCOSHE, Matuna’s, Red Bull, Lincoln Military Housing, USAA Insurance and the Ventura County Star.
The annual event is organized by Morale, Welfare and Recreation.