U.S. waveski paddlers Fletcher Burton (Pismo Beach, Calif.) and Tyler Lausten (Maui) went 1-2 in Friday and Saturday's 2011 Paddle Surfing Championships, claiming the top overall spots in a stacked field open to any international challengers.
"I’m really stoked to have the waveski national title back," said Burton, 33, who emerged through rounds of timed and professionally judged heats at the C-Street break in Ventura, Calif. "It’s been three years since I’ve had it and this makes my eighth title." Burton, who recently competed in September's world waveski championships in Santa Cruz, Portugal, finishing 12th overall, noted how far off the U.S. level of competition is from its talent hotbed in Europe. However, because the Ventura contest is an open international event, Burton was quick to point out how sweet the victory was in the open division, considering the skill level of international entrants like former world champ Mathieu Barbarit of France, who took third overall. See below for full results.
"It's a huge victory/honor for me to win the first American ranking but to also win the overall U.S. Open. So I’m pretty damn stoked," said Burton, who's already laying out plans to use the first-place prize of a trip for two to Costa Rica. Burton also made it to the semifinals in the SUP division, being knocked out by Colin McPhillips, who went on to claim the overall win. CLICK HERE to read more about the standup paddling competition, plus more photos and McPhillips’ take on the contest.
U.S. Waveski Association event director Brain Kuszmar has now hosted the contest in Ventura three times, and plans to make it an annual event moving forward. Aside from the "quality waves and quality weather," Kuszmar was most excited about the momentum of waveski paddling recognition that the event generated, hosted in concert with the growing standup paddling division.
"I think the waveski guys rubbed off on the SUP guys,” Kuszmar said. "It's not cutthroat, we're all out there talking to each other and hooting and hollering for each other--not like a surf competition where it's this team or that, so it creates a pretty social and fun environment, and it's great to get guys out there competing like Mickey Munoz who've spent their lives in the surf community that say they enjoyed the contest and vibe."
The dual contest format provided crowds with plenty of chances to simultaneously soak in different styles of wave riding and paddling, but Kuszmar pointed out the impact of paddlers from different disciplines appreciating each other styles. "It's great to hear from guys like three-time longboard world champ Colin McPhillips looking and saying, 'We didn't realize you can sit down and do those moves' ... the SUP guys were saying how that's unbelievable, where in the past they wouldn't look at a sit-down paddler. Any guy who sits down should be proud to have the top standup guys recognize them."
If you've never really recognized the skill of a waveski paddler performing in ideal ocean conditions, take a look at this video of Lausten's best clips of the 2010-2011 winter on the north shore of Maui. CLICK HERE to see more:
Freestyle (Merv ski or finless) -- 1, Mike Harrington. 2, Bill Luhrs. 3, Eric Luhrs. 4, Chuck Menzel.
Kayak Finals -- 1, Kate Duncan. 2, Geoff Jennings. 3, Dennis St. Clair.
Waveski Womens -- 1, Caroline Angibaud. 2, Kate Duncan.
Waveski Veterans -- 1, Dennis St. Clair. 2, Don Phillips. 3, Jack George. 4, Mike Wright.
Waveski Grand Master -- 1, Steve Riordan. 2, Roger Adams. 3, Chuck Menzel 4, Mike Harrington.
Waveski Master -- 1, Jim Riecks. 2, Brian Kuszmar.
Waveski Senior -- 1, Mathieu Barbarit. 2, Jason Kozun. 3, Morne Erasmus. 4, Geoff Jennings.
Waveski New Age -- 1, Tyler Lausten. 2, Kevin Mackinlay.
Waveski Open -- 1, Fletcher Burton. 2, Tyler Lausten. 3, Mathieu Barbarit. 4, Mike Harrington.
Top U.S. Competitors -- 1, Fletcher Burton. 2, Tyler Lausten. 3, Mike Harrington. 4, Jim Riecks/Roger Adams tie.
SUP Junior -- 1, Tucker Ingalls. 2, C D Kinley. 3, Griffin Ross. 4, Matthew Hughes.
SUP Senior -- 1, Fernado Stalla. 2, Hector Gonzales. 3, Lionel Angibaud. 4, Chris Hamm.
SUP Masters -- 1, Colin McPhillips. 2, Brian Gilbert. 3, Dave Boehne. 4, Chuck Trout.
SUP Legends -- 1, Alex Nakoa. 2, Joe Rowan. 3, Chris Boland. 4, Robert Trow.
SUP Womens -- 1, Candice Appleby. 2, Caroline Angibaud. 3, Talia Gangini. 4, Diane Wenzel.
SUP Open -- 1, Colin McPhillips. 2, Fernando Stalla. 3, Lionel Angibaud. 4, Dave Boehne.