Frigid waters and inconsistent conditions at New Smyrna Beach were no problem for the UNF Surf Team, continuing its dominance of NSSA competitions with a sweep of the event.
The team had four of its members in the Men’s Shortboard Final and earned the top three podium spots.
Mel Young earned 1st place for his performance and said it was difficult as the day went on but was great to have peers out on the water with him in the final.
“The waves were coming in on some good sets but that was about it,” Young said. “It’s awesome to have three guys you know out there with you in a final. It makes it a lot more fun.”
Young came through to the final via the repocharge heat, set aside for those who earn 2nd and 3rd in their respective heats leading up to the finals.
Alongside Young was Max Mertens in 2nd after getting a straight shot to the final with a dominating performance in his previous heats, Don Wight in 3rd and Chris Igou in 5th. Their performances gained UNF enough points to put the team as the clear winners over UCF’s A-Team by 21 points, winning 93-72 after all the individual points were added.
Mertens said that the win makes a great statement for the team’s consistency and that patience was the key to his success.
“No matter the size or condition of the waves, our surfers have been able to adapt and perform better than the rest of the competition,” Mertens said. “Since the waves were quite small, waiting for the set waves was crucial. The smaller non set waves wouldn’t get you the score and most times wouldn’t even push you enough to stand up.”
Daytona State College gained 67 points, putting them in 3rd with UCF’s B-Team earning 4th and UNF’s B Team wrapping up the top 5.
Heading into the final, UNF was only ahead of the Knights by 4 points but after the last repocharge heat, UCF only had one contestant, Kyle Anthony, make the final.
Anthony, the UCF captain, said it was rough to find a wave that would give them the points they needed and that the conditions were rather frigid.
“At the end it was a little bit of a struggle, it got kind of small but it was still fun,” Antony said. “It was definitely one of the coldest competitions so far this year.”
Anthony, along with Sebastiaan Lang and Evan Cobb, said that it was getting cold just because of exhaustion but being in the water was better than being out of it in a soaked wetsuit.
The Ospreys’ Tyler Dean took 1st place honors for the Longboard Division over Will Cole of FIT and Adam Fricke of UCF, sweeping the men’s division.
Emily Ruppert completed the team’s dominance of the event with a win in the women’s division, earning the only perfect 10 of the day in her heat leading to the final, which she remembered well.
“There weren’t a whole lot of waves coming through down at the south end so we had to make the most of them,” Ruppert said. “I got a cutback, went up and did a floater then a turn at the end to get thee hits on the wave.”
The competition was divided into North and South breaks to help push the event’s pace in order to get the best waves New Smyrna had to offer. However, the north side of the competition was clearly in better form with stronger sets coming in for the surfers.
UNF Captain Adam Bartoshesky said it was all up to the ocean and what you can do with the 15-minute heat given.
“It can go completely flat for an entire heat and make it really difficult to compete so some of the better surfers may get unlucky and not make it through,” Bartoshesky said.
Bartsoshesky said the team has already made its qualification into the Eastern Surfing Association’s competition, Easterns, after competing in two events but that the team wanted to show its commitment to staying on top.
The win marks its third of the season with two season events remaining before Easterns, held at New Smyrna in April, and Nationals that will take place in California during the summer.
Bartoshesky said that Easterns will be great to surf against schools from outside the Florida area, with one in particular he would like UNF to beat.
“Easterns is great because it’s not only schools from Florida, but all up the coast. It’s the biggest event on the east coast,” Bartoshesky said. “UNC Wilmington always has a good team each year. We’re going to use the next events and training to get set for Easterns so that we can hopefully outperform them.”
The team’s next NSSA event takes place February 19th at New Smyrna Beach.