I went into the 7th Annual Malibu Invitational feeling conditioned with the intention of winning, but it’s a date with mother nature, and we all have had a date go not as planned. I was disappointed when I was still sitting out the back waiting for a wave as the horn sounded to end my heat, but soon realized I can’t get mad at what I can’t control (Mother Nature). Maybe I could have stabbed the ocean with my surfboard because the ocean was mean to me, and it will feel it, right? Instead, I put a smile on my face as I shared a wave with my best friend Jamie Meistrell and his tandem partner, who was one of the children with disabilities he took surfing during the Therasurf and Young and the Brave expression session. Surfing that wave made me realize I have no reason to be mad… Therefore, I couldn’t change the fact that I didn’t catch a wave, but nor could the kids change that they were born with disabilities. The kids ear to ear smiles and the tears of joy from their parents standing on the beach only showed all who were attending this event that it’s about the healing that riding waves can produce. Whether it is from the feeling surfers receive from gliding across the face of a wave, or all the cheers of support given from those witnessing by the shore only reminds us surfers why we started in the first place—it was the beautiful lifestyle and smile that has made surfing a passion for so many of us.
Following into the night on first day of the Malibu Invitational was the event party. With Cut Snake dropping beats, it allowed me to cut loose, and drop my moves on the dance floor. Anyways with that said, I had a late, but great night that caused me to be a bit on the late train the next morning. I showed up to day two wishing I were still in the event because as I parked swells varnished the point with seamless perfection. Never the less I smiled while walking down the beach as my friends, who just so happen to be also some of my favorite surfers, graced the walls of Malibu with their beautiful, but oh so different styles. It was as if all of us on the beach were attending a gallery displaying live art with generations of artist to using an array of paintbrushes and techniques, but all with similar canvases. In the end, all competitors were winner because it is too hard to judge. As a spectator on the beach my opinion of what surfer stood out to me was most likely not the same as the person standing next to me.
Craig Kozolowski might as well have his name stamped on this trophy for as long as this contest is running, as well as he is one of the nicest people I know, but don’t think about the saying “Nice guys finish last”. Throughout the comp I mentioned to everyone along with Craig himself, that he would win the Masters(59+) because of his impeccable wave knowledge and smooth style that suits the faces of Malibu so well. The Legends(40+) Final was an all out battle… Even though Donald Day used his teaching skills and precise carves to give the crowd a science lecture while dissecting first point Malibu. However, it was Evan Caples who took the gold again this year with his heart of a champion and an array of power and finesse through every turn. It was great to see the heated battles going on in both the Legends and Masters divisions; most of them are great friends, so they were going all out with their surfing and hassling just to win those bragging rights over their buddies. As for the Pro division, bragging rights are fun, money is a bonus, but the actual act of winning is a feeling of seperiority. There were pros in this event that have competed all over the world among the top 44 best surfers on the ASP “Dream Tour”, but none of them could stop the 6’2” humble, soft spoken 26 year old that won every heat all way through the final. This year the Pro final saw a new crew of standouts… Dylan Goodale from Hawaii used his fins-out approach to snag himself a 4th place finish. Nathaniel Curran, founder of Young and the Brave Foundation”, showed all involved in the event how to be a true professional starting a foundation for people in need, and why he has been and might as well still be on that “Dream Tour”. There was not one moment that I saw Nathaniel sitting around focusing on his heats, instead he was doing interviews talking with parents and using his genuine smile to make sure everyone was happy. In the final all the hard work maybe caught up with Curran as he was in need of a back up wave which ended his run in 3rd. Luke Davis arguably holds the most flawless style and draws the smoothest lines among any surfer under the age of 21. Davis throughout the middle of the heat had all who were watching drool as he used his quintessential artistry on every wave he caressed, and seemed to have had the final in his hands. But Taking the win was the tall Santa Barbarian, Killian Garland, who probably went all weekend without saying more than hi to a few of his peers on the beach, but as soon as he hit the water his surfing spoke more for him. At the beginning of the final Killian paved the way with an almost perfect score by using his power to blow his tail through the back and detonate every bomb that rolled through the point with repertoire of tops turns that still have salt water floating in space. With the time dwindling down Killian was in need of an excellent score, but with mother nature in his side a flurry of waves arose… Killian destroyed the final wave to steal the show from Davis with a skill set that was obviously honed on the perfect points of Santa Barbara and mentors of Tom Curren, Chris Brown and Bobby Martinez ring a bell… guess the apple doesn’t far from the tree.
Sunshine and positive people can make any situation a great time… I found out firsthand how enjoyable it was to take in all the wonderful vibes that surrounded everyone who stepped foot on the sand this past weekend at the Malibu Invitational. Unfortunately, there had to be some who did not advance, that includes me, but nobody loses when the sun is out, girls are in bikinis, surfers are performing, and a energy that is made only when people come together doing what they love and helping others. Thanks to all the people who helped make once again a weekend to remember.