Hillard Grossman

Reprint from Florida Today 5 July 2023


While Taylor Swift has been electrifying stadium audiences on her tour this summer, a couple of Brevard County surfers also were captivating crowds on California beaches, ushering in their own eras of East Coast dominance in an otherwise left coast-dominated sport.

Melbourne’s Kylie Pulcini, 15, won two huge national titles to etch her name among the best U.S. amateur surfers of all time, and Cape Canaveral’s Gavin Idone, 18, also brought home a pair of national titles in the longboard division, despite being stung by a stingray.

Gavin Idone, 18, of Cape Canaveral enjoys his victory ride after claiming the NSSA Scholastic Varsity Longboard title at Dana Point, Calif., the first of his two national titles this summer.

Not to be outdone was an impressive performance by Satellite Beach’s Jonathan Wallhauser, who cruised to the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) national title for collegiate longboarders while competing in his fourth year for the University of Central Florida team.

Just eight years from when she first hopped onto a surfboard at Todd Holland’s School of Surf in Cocoa Beach, the 5-foot-4 Pulcini was winning the Rip Curl Grom Search National Final for under-16 girls at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, Calif., last month. She then won the under-18 (oldest division) at the USA Surfing’s U.S. Championships at the famed Lower Trestles wave break farther west.