Article- Op East II Surfing Championships at Sebastian Inlet

The eighties was when Florida surfers began to emerge as powerhouses on the national competitive scene. From an article in the Orlando Sentinel:


The Quest Continues Charlie Kuhn Leads East In Surfing Action
September 21, 1989|By Mike Zizzo of The Sentinel Staff

COCOA — Defending champion Charlie Kuhn of Indian Harbour Beach will lead the East against the West as action continues today at the Op East II Surfing Championships at Sebastian Inlet.

The scenario is expected to resemble last year’s competition, when Florida and California had four competitors each of the final eight vying for the title, and Kuhn was able to take the title from Andy Fomenko of California.

It was Kuhn’s first title on the tour, and it will be difficult to repeat because the 192-member field is filled with some of the nation’s premier surfers. Kuhn, currently ranked 30th on the tour, is backed by a strong local contingent – led by Richie Rudolph and Kelly Slater of Cocoa Beach – that could keep the title in Eastern waters.

Rudolph, who is ranked fifth on the tour, is the East’s best bet to capture the title. Rudolph, the defending East Coast surfing champion, is the highest-rated Eastern surfer on the tour (4th in ’88), as well as the first to win a U.S. Tour event (’87). He made back-to-back finals in the Oceanside and San Clemente tournaments, and he just missed two more finals in the last three events.

Slater, 17, is the most heralded young American amateur since former two-time world champion Tom Curren. Slater, the defending Op junior champion, placed in three tour finals last year with one victory and a fourth-place finish here to his credit.

The trio will receive a stiff challenge by the well-stocked West group, which will be led by Dino Andino of San Clemente, Calif. Andino, 20, who finished second on the tour last year, has been the top-ranked surfer on the tour since mid-August when he recorded his second victory of the season. He finished seventh here a year ago.

Other top surfers expected from the West are: Jim Hogan of San Clemente, currently ranked second on the tour and the ASP-East Coast Tour’s rating leader; Todd Chesser of Honolulu, who is ranked third and has advanced to four finals this season; Noah Budroe of Huntington Beach, Calif., who is ranked fourth and finished third here in 1988; Bud Llamas of Huntington Beach, who is ranked sixth and was the tour leader from early May to mid-July; and Mike Lambresi, of Oceanside, Calif., who is ranked eighth and is the defending two-time U.S. surfing champion.

Also on tap will be the Easy Rider Bodyboarding Championships. The contest will feature 40 of the nation’s top bodyboarders including defending U.S. champion Mike Stewartf Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, fellow islanders Ben Severson and Danny Kim, and Ray Isern of Casselberry.

The surfing event, which is sanctioned by the Professional Surfing Association of America, began Wednesday morning with trial heats and rounds for lower seeds. Today, beginning at 7:30 a.m., the back-128 seeded round competition will continue, and the back-96 seeded round will begin.

The bodyboard trials and the higher surfing seeds will begin on Friday, and the top-32 surfing seeds and bodyboard trials open Saturday. Sunday will feature the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals – tenatively set for noon – for both divisions. The surfing champion will receive a $6,000 first-place prize, while the bodyboard champion will receive $1,500.

The event is the ninth stop on the 11-tournament tour. The competiton will head to St. Augustine Sept. 27-Oct.1 for the Body Glove East Coast Pro Surfing Championships, and then the tour will wrap up the season in San Francisco with the Budweiser U.S. Championships on Oct. 11-15.

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