“John grew up on the island surfing and knew he would have to transfer to HB High to keep surfing through the cold winters. Making new friends in the process, he invited the team for our annual (summer) trip to his home to share some waves at his local beach.”
Robert August and his son, Sam, traveled with their alma mater’s surf team last week to Nantucket. Robert August’s nephews, Cole and Wade Carden, also made the trip to add to what Verdone called a “collection of Oilers past and present.”
“You have to have a certain spirit of adventure to leave your home and search for waves,” Oilers team captain Colton Larson said. “John came to Huntington Beach and now we came to discover for ourselves what his island has to offer.”
It was the first time in 20 years that the Huntington Beach High surf team has not traveled overseas and stayed closer to home, Verdone said, adding that the trip came about when the Whelden family — which owns four restaurants on the island and whom Verdone said has been on the island for “a few generations” — invited the group to come.
While in Nantucket, Verdone said the team was treated “like celebrities” with television and newspaper crews doing features on the squad.
During the trip, the Oilers entered the Ozone Classic Surf Contest at Cisco Beach. Evan Kane and Shayne Nelson won their age divisions, and the rest of the Oilers reached division finals competing against the Nantucket locals.
Robert and Sam August were on the beach coaching, along with Huntington Beach’s Barry Deffenbaugh, Verdone said.
“It was very exciting to watch, because the whole island turns out and it’s quite a big deal once a year,” Verdone said. “It was funny to watch John Whelden compete in his home break, taking down some pretty good HB boys.
“I believe that John Whelden single-handedly raised the surfing bar on Nantucket by simply returning home a much better surfer than when he left two years ago. Maybe John will change the surfing world just like his fellow alum Robert August did 45 years ago.”
— Mike Sciacca