Nathan Mershon is kicking ass and taking names. Nathan who?
I'm probably not alone in looking at the top 10 list for the Pistol River Wave Bash and being somewhat surprised to see Mershon's name on top. I'm a pretty avid fan of high-level wave sailing and for sure Nathan has been on the radar with videos of him doing huge clean backloops in the gorge, but for this relatively unknown guy to come out and win the first two contests of the American Windsurfing Tour over names like Kevin Pritchard, Boujmaa, Kai Lenny, Kai Katchedourian, Graham Ezzy and Josh Stone is surprising.
Surprising, in a pleasant surprise kind of way. I saw the single elimination final with Pritchard vs. Mershon at Waddell. I think at the time I thought KP won because he had a very memorable (and large) one footed backloop, but when I think back on it, the set waves weren't very frequent and Mershon did catch a bigger wave and get a couple of nice off-the-lips. It is a wave riding contest and the rides count for more than the jumps, so I can see how it would have went that way in hindsight. I'm looking forward to Mershon getting more coverage from the windsurfing media outlets in the future, he's obviously proving to be one of the most consistent rippers in the US. Kudos!
Another interesting placing is top US Freestyler Tyson Poor getting 6th overall. Ty is a super talented guy, but if you were to press him he'd tell you he's a freestyler much more so than a wave sailor. I know he's got to be pretty happy with his result. I guess that week or so at Punta San Carlos this year really paid off! It also makes you wonder what would happen if he moved to Maui for a little while?
Another cool thing is Ingrid Larouche competing in both Women's and Amateur (Men's and Women's... but mostly Men by a long shot) divisions. She secured another top 5 placement and obviously is proving that a woman can rip just as hard as the guys can, particularly a woman that has been dominating North American windsurfing for a few years now.
In the youth division you see a pretty typical top 3 line up in Morgan Noireaux, Bernd Roediger and Zane Schweitzer. These three young guys were born and raised on Maui and just absolutely rip as hard as anyone else. It's awesome to see such youth performing the way they do, particularly when given the advantage of being from the best place in the world for wavesailing. I'd like to give a shout out to "our" guy Nick Dudet. Just a couple of years ago I saw Nick at 3rd avenue crashing on vulcans and trying forwards. He seemed like the kind of kid who would go for it, but I didn't think too much of it. Last month when I saw him sailing Waddell, it was like I was seeing a different sailor. HUMONGOUS end-over-end forwards, amazing down-the-line style, aggressive lip destruction. It's exciting to see a local kid coming up with obvious passion for the sport and achieving great results.
Also congrats to Atilla Tivadar, a local guy who lives in Pacifica for scoring 2nd in the Masters. He's a super-big, super-nice guy who simply rips. Also congrats to Royn Bartholdi for winning the masters division. I still visit his webpage, roynbartholdi.com, as I work on Freestyle moves.
Lastly, kudos to Samantha Bittner for running another successful event and Kevin Pritchard with Maui Nerd productions for making some really slick videos of the event. The fact that the event is alive not only for people who attend the events, but for people who will only get to check out one or two stops makes such a huge difference.
All hail the AWT!
An awesome facebook photo album from day 1.
The local news picks up the story.
**top photo stolen from the AWT website in a very non-malicious way.