“I was just keeping my eye on him,” said Waring, 22, who posted a two-wave score of 16.03 in the 30-minute title to edge Ettinger by the slightest of margins. Ettinger finished with a 16.00 for defending champion Team Hurley. Nathaniel Curran, the 2008 U.S. Open winner, placed third for Team Surfline, and Evan Thompson of Team South America placed fourth.
“I’m so happy I won,” Waring said. “My name’s on that list, with all those legends and past champs. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Waring, a 2005 Huntington Beach High graduate who was captain of the Oilers surf team, won $4,000 for his efforts, plus a car stereo system. Ettinger won $2,000. For winning the team competition, Team Reef — also including Ben Bourgeois, Sean Marceron and Nick Rosza — also won a two-page spread in Surfing Magazine.
Ettinger, 25, led early in the finals but Waring responded. He used a 9.53 score on a barrel, then a 6.50 to overtake Ettinger.
With four minutes to go in the final, Ettinger nearly retook the lead but his ride was scored a 6.00. He needed a 6.03 but was happy after falling the semifinals a year ago.
“I was just stoked to be in the final,” Ettinger said. “The waves were firing both days of the event. I mean, we would have been out here surfing anyway, so to have a contest was just a bonus. I was really stoked just to get that 10-point ride. I just couldn’t back it up in the end. But I’m friends with Chris, so I was stoked for him to win. Having one of the local guys win was a nice thing.”
It was the second year in a row that happened, as Brett Simpson won the individual event last year for Team Hurley and ended up winning the U.S. Open and qualifying for the Assn. of Surfing Professionals Tour.
Waring, who recently moved to Huntington and said he surfs everyday at the pier, won every one of his five heats over the course of the event.
“It’s definitely a great start [to the year],” he said. “You can’t start off a year better than this. It’s about as good as it gets.”
Huntington’s Micah Byrne also made it to the semifinals but couldn’t advance. He did, however, win a car stereo system for the highest heat total from Day 1 (Thursday).
“It’s great to have an event like this at our home break,” said Byrne, who fell in the semifinals for the second straight year. “It’s just a good time. It’s a good event for all the locals to shine... I’m stoked to be here and be a part of it."