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Haakenson: Fignetti captures not one but two national titles

Joe Surf

July 11, 2012|By Joe Haakenson | By Joe Haakenson
  • Rick Fignetti speaks during the 17th annual Induction Day into the Surfing Walk of Fame in 2010.
Rick Fignetti speaks during the 17th annual Induction… (Scott Smeltzer,…)

I have two boards in my garage with the "Rockin' Fig" logo on them, two boards purchased directly from Fig himself in his surf shop on Main Street years ago.

Those boards look different to me now, and it's not just the crusty old wax.

Now, it's just the idea that those boards came from a National Champion.

Rick "Rockin' Fig" Fignetti, a legend in Huntington Beach and all of the surfing world for that matter, finally won an elusive national championship when he claimed not one but two national titles at the NSSA National Championships the first week in July on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier.

Fignetti won the Explorer Super Seniors division (ages 45 and up) and also the Explorer Duke division (55 and up).

Fignetti was just 20 in 1978 at the first NSSA championships, and he reached the final heat before finishing fourth in his division. It took him almost 35 years since then to finally come out on top, but he did.

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"There was an open spot in my heart where I was never able to succeed," Fignetti said this week from Rockin' Fig Headquarters. "If I get laid to rest tomorrow, at least I got my final goal. … It was like, 'Finally! I did it!' "

Fignetti estimated he'd been in 18 final heats over the years only to come up short each time at Nationals. But this year was different. Fignetti went into the Nationals on a roll, winning 10 consecutive Duke division contests, including the West Coast championships.

Not only was he surfing well, but he was strategizing his approach. Fignetti and all the locals usually surf the north side of the pier, but Fignetti switched things up as the Nationals approached.

"I've actually been surfing a bit on the south side because I knew these championships were gonna be held over there," Fignetti said. "Normally I do surf on the north side, but I've been practicing a lot on the south side and kind of getting used to that 'pier bo peak' on the south side. There's a good little right that comes off of it and I was just hoping it wasn't going to be too much south, where it was gonna be all lefts."

When Fignetti reached the final heat in both the Super Seniors and Duke divisions, he had to strategize again. He's 55 years old and there would be only one division final taking place in between his two finals heats; not much time to rest.

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