UPDATE, MAY 12, 2:33 P.M.: “Who can whistle real loud,” Skip Snead asked the small crowd on the beach. The first heat of the Airshow was about to end and he didn't have an air-horn.
The Ghetto Juice Airshow presented by Sanuk was about as “ghetto” a surf contest as has been run–and we mean that in the best way possible. Besides, that's exactly how the organizers wanted it.
“This is how we put together the first one: word-of-mouth and everyone showing up at the beach,” Snead said, of the first Airshow he and Shawn “Barney” Barron organized in Santa Cruz in 1996.
Just how ghetto were things?
The judges sat under a patch of umbrellas; the one set of contestant jerseys had “Ghetto Juice” markered or spray-painted on; the contest draw was written up on a piece of construction paper; contestants handed-off jerseys at the waterline; rules for the final were discussed just minutes before the heat began; the first place trophy was discovered in the trash; the winner's check was missing during the award's ceremony and $1,000 cash was handed over to winner, Mason Ho. Quite ghetto. Quite a memorable event.
It didn't matter that conditions were inconsistent and windblown and mostly small. The group of talent the contest had culled together could manage enough speed to launch airs in a swimming pool.
”Everyone came down: Brother (Kolohe Andino), Gavin Beschen, new school and old school; it was cool,” one observer was overhead saying into his cell phone.
By the time the final was ready to commence, around 2 p.m., nearly every type of aerial maneuver had been attempted, most of them completed successfully. When the six-man final paddled out, one of the better sets of the day greeted them at the waterline, but no such set rolled through for the 45-minute final.
But what most surfers seek as wave perfection–long, clean, carvable walls of water–aren't what this crew of progressive surfers need to do what they do best. The steeper the better and if there's a sidewind, that's ideal. They need ramps, which closeouts will provide. In a way, it's everything surfers used to want to avoid.
In the end, it was a young Hawaiian, Mason Ho, who pulled off the trick of the day, a backside alley-oop grabrail, or as it's known around 54th Street, a Gorkin Roll, named after a fellow finalist, Gorkin Cormican.
“Yeah, old Lady Luck let me land an air,” said Ho, with the cash, check and trophy in hand.
Behind Ho, some of the competitors were using the young kids in attendance as target practice, with grilled hot dogs as the ammunition. So ghetto.
More photos and the Original Post in the following pages.
The contest is scheduled to get going at 8 a.m. on Wednesday at 54th Street in Newport Beach. Though the surf forecast is indicating pretty dismal conditions–like in the 1- to 3-foot range–it doesn't take much to get this cast of surfers sailing above and beyond the waves on hand. The two best airs per heat will be scored and in the end will be a winner-take-all $1,000 check. There was so much interest in this invite-only contest, that an Alternates Super Heat was added, and will be run between the semis and final.
Ghetto Juice's publisher, Skip Snead
, was involved with organizing the first-ever Airshow, held at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz in 1996. Fletcher competed then, and will be competing tomorrow, as well.
Along with Fletcher will be a couple aerial legends, including Jason “Ratboy” Collins, Nathan Fletcher and Shawn Barney Barron. The highlight will be the who's-who roster of top tier new school surfers, including Aussie Chippa Wilson, New York's Balaram Stack, Hawaiian Mason Ho, and a whole host of local talent: Kolohe Andino, Ford Archbold, Luke Davis, Josh Hoyer, Colin Moran, Bobby Okvist, Ian Crane and more.