The shorebreak was pounding, and while we called yesterday gnarlier than ever, day 3 of the La Ventana Classic certainly surpassed it.Earlybird SUPers got in their morning paddle with another mini downwinder from the Hot Springs to Palapas Ventana. Bonnie Fromm led the way and beat all the men to the finish line for the second day in a row. Mary Rose Kissenger came in second for the women’s category and on the men’s side, it was Dave Beddows followed by Mike Dillon in second and Gary Martin in third.Winds were gusting up to 30mph by 11am, canceling foil racing for the day. Instead, officials went all in on freestyle and ran both the oldschool and strapless freestyle contests. By 1:30pm, competitors were out on the water and although the wind was up and down and light on the inside, they did their best to put on their own version of King of the Air.
The contest began with the qualifying round of the Sportsman division throwing lofty airs and reaching into their bags to pull out some freestyle/oldschool tricks. A semifinals round ran at the end of the day where Tanner Rawlins, Phil Schonger, Adan Geraldo and Dave Beddows advanced.
The Sportsmen’s Freestyle was followed by the women’s Freestyle division. Rachel Callahan started the heat with a massive kiteloop, Ella Johnson landed a super clean backroll to toeside off a ramped up kicker and Justi Vonada kept the kiteloops going with both a grabbed kiteloop and a frontroll kiteloop.
When it came to the men’s Strapless division, they couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The windswell provided massive chop, ideal for launching big airs, and when the sets rolled in, committed wave riders were quick to charge down the line before getting sucked up and over in the munching shorebreak. Mac Skaggs boosted some lofty strapless airs along with, Layne Mullard, Fred Hope, Reed Brady and John Von Tesmar who all advanced to the next round.Grom Gormley, Will Cyr and Jason Blanchard competed against one another in the men’s Competitor heat 1 and although the gusty winds proved troubling, Will boosted some crowd pleasing airs, Grom rode in his underwear in preparation of the night’s Tighty Whitey Bubble Party, and Jason, one of the only riders to unhook in the day’s difficult conditions, landed an unhooked double frontroll.
But it was the men’s Competitor heat 2 that was the most eventful heat of the day. Eric Vanek pulled into a hefty right long enough to get barreled before getting churned and dumped out on the beach. Luis landed a classic deadman right before a filming drone from above got caught in his lines. Lucky for the drone driver, this was the best save we’ve seen, and while pieces(including the camera) had fallen from the drone, Luis brought it back to the beach dry and still tangled in his lines before taking off and finishing his heat. Luis, Grom, Jason and Reed all advanced to the semifinals of the men’s Competitor division. Finally, in a new event for the women, Ella Johnson, Rachel Callahan and Justi Vonada competed in the women’s Strapless division. Ella and Justi took to the water on surfboards while Rachel rode her skim. Ella scored the biggest wave of the day, lining up and making multiple turns on its face and pulling out before it dumped on shore.
The conditions were rough but the riders made it work and put on quite the show for another swell day at the La Ventana Classic.
Photos by Jason Hudson