Scores rise with big waves at West Coast Championships


HUNTINGTON BEACH - With waves up to 12 feet rising on the south side of Huntington Beach Pier, the third day of the West Coast Championships presented by Nike 6.0 produced some eye-popping scores.

Three surfers turned in scores better than 9.0, led by a 9.67 from La Jolla’s Jake Halstead in the open men’s quarterfinals.

“As I was paddling out a little insider popped up, and I just went on it,” Hallstead said. “It had a really clean wall, so I didn’t do anything too fancy — just keep my flow going.”

The big wave helped Hallstead take first in the heat, and Dominic DiPietro of Carlsbad finished second. The open men’s division favorite, Connor Coffin, 16, of Santa Monica, finished third and was eliminated from the event.

As the elder Coffin fumed on the beach, his younger brother celebrated.

Parker Coffin, 14, advanced to the semifinals of the open men’s division and survived a scare with a potential broken board to qualify for the semifinals of the open juniors.

While the strong surf almost wreaked havoc on Coffin’s day, it delivered big scores for a number of Orange County surfers.

Trevor Thornton of San Clemente turned in an 8.5 in the open men’s quarterfinals to reach Sunday morning’s semifinals.

“I got the wave of the day,” Thornton said. “I got two good turns on it and that was about all I needed.”

A day after he recorded a 9.1 to headline the Friday afternoon open junior’s scores, Thornton reached the quarterfinals of the division, but was eliminated when he turned in a 7.67 two-wave score.

Thornton is not the only local surfer in the open men’s semifinals, as 18-year-old Christian Saenz, surfing a short jaunt from his home in Huntington Beach, turned in a 9.57 two-wave score to win his quarterfinal heat.

“My goal coming in (to the WCC) was to win it after I took second in a tiebreaker last year,” Saenz said. “But the waves are picking up so much that it is just a matter of who gets the best waves.”

Taylor Pitz of Laguna Beach and Kulia Doherty of San Clemente gave Orange County a pair of strong female performances, both qualifying for the finals of the open women’s division.

“Winning the West Coast Championship is obviously one of my big goals, since I have never done it before,” said Pitz, who won the California high school state championship earlier this spring. “The surf is tough because there is a lot of water coming at you, but hopefully I can figure it out tomorrow.”

All of the surfers are jostling for points on the National Scholastic Surfing Association national tour. The points will qualify the contestants for the national championship, held June 29-July 3 at Huntington Beach Pier.

With some of the unpredictable results coming out of the large surf in the first three days of the event, many fans expressed anticipation for waves up to 15 feet during Sunday’s event, which begins at 7 a.m. and concludes with the open men’s final at 2:50 p.m.

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