Richards and Lau advance at NSSA Championships
HUNTINGTON BEACH – The NSSA National Championships attracts hundreds of surfers from all over the country. Now that it's down to the final days of competition, with the talent rising to the top, there have been battles between those vying for the top spot, giving a glimpse into what's in store for today's finals.
Cam Richards, 15, and Ezekiel Lau, 18, spent all morning at South Side in Huntington Beach going back and forth with each other in the Open Men's division. Richards, from South Carolina, and Lau, a resident of Honolulu, were in the same heat in the morning session, and after they both advanced, they squared off again in the afternoon.
Richards got the better of Lau in their morning heat after placing first on a tiebreaker. Lau was leading for most of the heat and Richards knew he needed a big score to overtake him.
Soon a huge aerial move on an inside wave gave Richards exactly the score he needed (7.5) to jump into first and notch his first mini victory of the day.
"(Lau's) a lot bigger than me, a lot older than me, a lot more experienced, so it felt good to beat him," Richards said, "He's beat me (before), and I've beat him once. But it's fun to surf against him. He rips."
Lau, who won the 2009 NSSA's Open Junior championship, took advantage of the unusually small swells in the afternoon heat and edged out Richards with only a few minutes remaining. Lau and Richards went 1-2 in their final heat, respectively, and will be in today's quarterfinal heats.
The swells at South Side have been uncharacteristically small, which made the battle between Lau and Richards even more fun to watch. Each surfer tried to get in as many waves as they could. The only problem was that the worthwhile ones were few and far between.
"It's been good. (Richards and I) were pushing each other this morning," Lau said, "(Richards) was launching airs. I was launching airs ... I was just trying to get as busy as I could and get a good start and build off that. Because once you get going out here it just makes it easier."