They were introduced during a Dec. 2 seaside ceremony as members
of the USA surf team. Decked out in red-white-and-blue jackets, the
19-member squad was presented to the public for the first time, and
it was fitting that the beginning of the new program should make its
debut in Surf City.
The official USA surf team will represent the country in upcoming
international surfing competitions.
"It's been a longtime coming," said Michael Gerard, executive
director of Huntington Beach-based Surfing America, of the newly
The USA team surfers -- all high school students -- come from
Hawaii, South Carolina and Florida, and six of them hail from Orange
Huntington Beach High School sophomore Chris Welpman -- who, his
coach, Andy Verdone, said is the No. 1 bodyboarder in the nation --
is the lone Surf City athlete on the team.
Perhaps the most recognized team member is Bethany Hamilton, the
14-year-old surfer from Hanalei, Hawaii, who made news headlines
after being attacked by a shark in Oct. 2003.
Hamilton lost her left arm as a result of that attack.
The USA surf team, whose head coach is former world champion Peter
"PT" Townend, held its first official practice prior to introductions
and competed against the Huntington Beach High School surf team,
which was in attendance during team introductions.
A round-robin tournament during the summer determined the members
of the program's inaugural team, and a new USA surf team will be
selected next year.
The current squad left Friday for Tahiti to compete in its first
International Surfing Assn. Event -- the ISA Quiksilver Junior World
It's the team's first attempt to restore the country's status as a
major amateur surfing powerhouse in international competition.
No U.S. surfing team has won a world title since 1996.
"American teams have been slipping in the last 10 years, mostly because of lack of support," said Gerard, who accepted a key to the
city from Mayor Cathy Green during the introduction ceremony. "But
with this newly appointed team, we have the full support of the surf
industry and the city of Huntington Beach. It's just great."
Support and sponsorship in the surf industry has come from the