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Haakenson: Newport Harbor takes top spot in Surf Team Challenge

June 06, 2012|By Joe Haakenson

Ten high school surf teams. One winner.

They held the Oakley High School Surf Team Challenge last Saturday at 54th Street in Newport Beach, a new aspect of Oakley's Surf Shop Challenge series, featuring Orange County's top high school surfers.

The event was a smashing success, particularly for Newport Harbor High, which beat the other nine high school teams to take home the West Region crown. Besides bragging rights, Newport Harbor gets $5,000 (split between the athletic and science departments), as well as an additional $1,500 from one of the sponsors, Muscle Milk.

What made this event so fun had to do with the team aspect of the competition. There were no individual winners, only team winners.

Besides Newport Harbor, the other schools with teams competing were San Clemente, Huntington Beach, Edison, Long Beach Wilson, Dana Hills, Corona del Mar, Tesoro, Aliso Niguel and Santa Margarita.

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The format featured two five-team heats that lasted an hour each. Each team would have one hour to send out all four surfers, one at a time. Each surfer would try to get three waves to score, counting each surfer's top score.

The top four teams from the two heats went to the final heat, and that's where Newport Harbor overcame San Clemente (second place), Huntington Beach (third) and Dana Hills (fourth).

"It was super exciting," Newport Harbor coach Matt Burns said. "The way the format plays out, it's so team-oriented and the intensity is pretty high because you're trying to get that score and you only have three ways to work with."

Newport Harbor's winning team featured No. 1 Colin Moran, No. 2 Blake Davis, No. 3 Ryan Croteau and No. 4 Will Laidlaw. Burns said there was certainly a method to the madness when it came to sending his surfers out.

"You have to strategize when you want your guys to go," Burns said. "We sent Will out first. I knew he'd get a solid score for us to start with, and he tends to stress a little bit, so to get him out first I thought it would be a good thing to get the butterflies out."

All four killed it in their opening heat.

"We were done with 15 minutes to go," Burns said. "We did great; it was textbook."

It didn't go quite as smoothly in the final heat.

"We had the nerves a little bit with Will, and there was Mother Nature too," Burns said. "The waves were kind of on and off, and Will took about 20 minutes to finally get the right wave. He got a good score and we went about our business."

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