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Joe Surf: Paddling out for Zach

April 25, 2012|By Joe Haakenson
  • Ryan Croteau was a multiple finalist.
Ryan Croteau was a multiple finalist. (Dave Manning )

The Newport Harbor High School surf team — with help from Volcom, Surfside, Arnette, OAM and Vestal — sponsored the 13th annual Newport Surf Classic last weekend at 54th Street in Newport, but it was more than another local surf contest.

The two-day event also included a memorial for Zach Morabito, a Newport Harbor surf team member who lost his battle with brain cancer in August.

The memorial started out with an "expression session," in which surfers showcased their own tricks and airs without being judged for points. That was followed by a paddleout in which more than 50 surfers wearing leis formed a circle and shared their own personal memories of Zach.

Proceeds from the purchase of the leis benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Matt Porteous, a senior and surf team member at Newport Harbor, was instrumental in organizing the memorial for Zach, working with the Morabito family and Newport Harbor surf team coach Matt Burns.

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"I talked to (Zach's) parents and I talked to our surf team and we just thought it'd be cool if we made it part of our Classic, in celebration of Zach," Porteous said. "I was friends with Zach since he was a freshman, and when he got sick he couldn't surf but he loved to surf.

"His whole family, they lived on the beach. It was everybody on the surf team and the whole surfing community kind of thing, to make it in memory of him and in celebration of him."

The contest itself had some great surfing in a variety of divisions. The high school division was won by Will Laidlaw, with Ryan Croteau coming in second, Blake Davis in third and James Newman in fourth.

Other winners in their respective divisions included Tyler Gunter (middle school), Griffin Foy (elementary school), Amy Lowery (girls), Troy Mothershead (longboard), Bobby Okvist (bodyboard), Nick Fowler (graduated), Skip Snead (masters), and Jesse Guigliemana (airshow).

Porteous was not able to compete in the contest because he had a lacrosse game on Saturday, but his efforts to set up the memorial made sure Zach's memory will live on.

"Zach was really cool, he was outgoing and he lived life to the fullest," Porteous said. "He loved to surf and he loved to be outdoors and do all that stuff.

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