Starboard Dream Team rider wins longboard and SUP divisions at US Nationals: The ultimate waterman Zane Schweitzer has secured his place at the upcoming ISA SUP & Longboard Worlds as part of Team USA. The weekend’s US Nationals also served as an ISA Qualifier for Team USA. The Maui waterman reports;
“This summer has been exciting so far with some epic action. From Big Wave strike mission to Puerto Escondito to solid summer swells pumping at home on Maui there’s been plenty of great opportunities to log training days approaching summer’s biggest competition for SUP Surfing, Surfing America’s US National Championships at Oceanside, California.”
This year I decided to put all my focus into the sup surf and longboard surf division of US Nationals and opted out in entering the race divisions. With the team result in mind for ISA Surfing, I wanted to avoid any chance for races interfering with surf heats and training- I remember there being some pretty stressful close calls in previous years representing Team USA and competing in 2 to 3 different divisions. Committing to the choice to focus my training time including competitions in Surf events and Less for sup races has been a really refreshing way to start the competitive year while giving me every opportunity to be training in the surf.
In competition with me and also competing for a spot on Team USA was Bernd Rodiger, Max Torres and Daniel Hughes just to name a few. With only 2 spots being rewarded to the Open Men Sup Surf Division of Nationals this year, everyone’s gear and game seemed on point. Youngest in the top of the pack was Max Torres, and he was ripping more than I’ve seen him and has put on a solid 15 pounds of muscle and a few inches of height since last time I seen him. Bernd Rodiger was stylish as ever with epic rail to rail surfing and surprise switch stance riding that makes it hard to differentiate what side he is natural on! Daniel Hughs was looking explosive and is always on the hunt to throw the fins out the back with airs. I’m recently getting a new Starboard SUP model under my feet and loving it- it’s always nice having confidence in time spent training and as well your board, fins and paddle, and I was feeling great at Oceanside beach break with the all new 6’9” x 25.5 MAGIC! It was great to be in competition with some of the nations best SUP Surfers and have a chance to battle together!
I got to learn a lot from the judging criteria and lineup the first two rounds. The rights were longer, but quickly losing energy and height as the waves came to shore. My first few heats I compared my rides captured by Steve “Vegas” and Connor Baxter with my the scores rewarded to me by the judges and made a strategy to show the judges what they wanna see.
In the final heat with me was Bernd, Max and Daniel. We had probably some of the best waves and conditions from the whole week for this heat and I had a plan in mind to help me stay in rhythm. I sat out the back waiting for sets, and despite being patient was able to put a score on the board 3-5 minutes into the heat that set me up for a good start with a 8.67. I knew this was the highest score of the heat so far from the announcements coming from the beach, so on my paddle back out I knew I had to get back into priority position and be patent for another wave that’s gonna offer a high scoring ride. I learned the judges were scoring my lefts well from previous heats so waited for a set that had a opportunity to take off left with some ripping turns and carves to set up for the banger close-out section. I only had 1 score on the board and there’s was already almost less than 10 minutes remaining, but I didn’t want to loose focus of my game plan and especially didn’t wanna loose priority going for anything else than a set. When that set came to me I was ready for it out the back and with priority on my side, I knew I needed at least a 3.5 to take the lead but realistically knew I needed to put the stamp on it with another high score. I took off and started with a roundhouse as I waited for the section to connect across the flat spot to the right-close-out that was heading right at me for a finishing critical maneuver on the highest wave face of the heat. As I finished the wave and paddle back out I knew it was a good one enough to send me to the lead, but only had a few more minutes to defend my positions- as I’m thinking this I hear my score drop as a 7.43, which sends the rest of the competitors into a “Comboed” situation, or where the other riders need not just one but two scores to overtake the leader. This is the best possible situation when your in my position, but I couldn’t let that distract me from the present moment- defend and reacquire priority. With times ticking the ocean slowed down.. As the final minutes die to zero the feeling of accomplishment and relief come over me. Took my last wave in from that heat as US National Champion and a secured spot on Team USA for the ISA World Games!!! Mission accomplished!!!
Big mahalo to the USA Surfing staff, committee, judges and volunteers! Mahalo to my sponsors and supporters including Starboard, Head High Wines, Now Foods, Fisker, Maui Jim Sunglasses and Honolua Surf Co. Congratulations to all the longboard, shortboard, adaptive and SUP competitors! Especially those joining us in Puerto Rico this year for the ISA World Games!