“I will never forget the feeling of paddling out in double over head conditions, knowing I was about to sacrifice myself and take a beating from the ocean.” Teodor Deutsch reflects on a not so great surf session he had at the beginning of the winter. Deutch is a member of the SLV surf team and is not afraid to take on the hefty swell offered in Santa Cruz. He and the rest of the surf team hope that the swell remains consistent this year, allowing for a good season.
For years, the capable surfers living in the San Lorenzo Valley have been left out of the surf competition scene. It wasn’t until recent years that a team was established for Scotts Valley and SLV high. The surf team here is very unique because it accepts competitors from all over the bay area. Since there are only surf teams in the city of Santa Cruz (and now in the valley) teens that live in areas such as San Jose and Milpitas. Since there are people from all around, the team is able to tap into a lot of previously untapped potential. They have players that the teams from Santa Cruz and Harbor would never think about letting into their programs.
In addition to their unique assortment of players, the SLV surf team also has the advantage of a surf club. The surf club acts as a farm league of sorts, growing the skill of beginners that will compete in the future. The surf club meets every other thursday to discuss times to surf and ways to get better. The club also gets out on occasion to clean up the local beaches. Having a clean beach is very important to them because every surfer is a shepherd of the ocean. Surfers are given access to surfing amazing waves in Santa Cruz, so in return they are obligated to take care of the ocean and it’s beaches.
One of the better surfers on the team, Shay Monowitz, a competitor who was trained in the club system, participates in almost every competition. He says “I really like the juicy waves that allow me to become my spirit animal of a wild kangaroo, it really helps me flow with nature.” He also claims to be the “strongest player on the team by far.” Although his claims might not be quite up to par with reality, Monowitz is definitely a strong surfer who constantly gets farther in competitions than the rest of the surf team.
Surf competitions are very unique, and are completely different from any other sport. For those who do not know how they work, this is how: Surfers are separated into groups of 5 called heats. Each heat gets around a half an hour to compete. During each heat, the surfers are scored by a panel of judges for their two best rides. Scores range from 0-10, with ten being the highest single ride score. The competitor with the best score in each heat moves onto the next round, where the process is then repeated. These rounds continue to go on until the final is established with the best two surfers. The two then face off head to head to decided the winner.
One of the biggest parts of surfing is having the correct equipment. There is the obvious thing needed, being a surfboard. Some of the more advanced surfers begin to use much, much smaller boards. These boards dip below 6 ft in length and are only inches thick. Although hard to ride, these boards allow the surfers to successfully complete harder tricks such as airs, cutbacks and floaters, all of which can help boost scores during the competition. For surf team member Aiden Largay, the best board is “one that allows you to easily slide into the tube.” As someone who constantly spends time in the “green room,” Largay is a very strong competitor.
Another very valuable piece of equipment needed to surf in Santa Cruz is a wetsuit. With temperatures dipping into the low 50’s during the winter months, staying warm is hard to do. There are several companies in the area that sell quality suits, some of which include: O’Nneill, Rip Curl, Blue, and Hotline. The most common style suit bought in Santa Cruz are in the range of 4 mm thick. These beefy wetsuits warm up the small amount of water let into the suit in order to keep body temperature at a healthy level.
In conclusion, the surf team is in line to continue a good year competing in Santa Cruz. They have a few more months of peak winter conditions before the season ends, so it’s extremely important that they place high in the coming comps. With a combination of skill and team depth, the team should climb up the rungs in the competition and continue to make a name for the SLV program.
by Isaac Wallace Menge