Malibu surf team riding high

The Malibu High surf team is on a roll recently. The team won its third consecutive contest on Dec. 9 when it defeated Santa Monica, 64-45 at the “Heavens” at Leo Carrillo beach. As part of the Scholastic Surf Series, the Sharks improved to 3-0 with two more events upcoming in January and March. 

“The kids did fantastic for how it was,” Malibu Coach Michael Moss said. “Contests always have this black cloud hanging over them. The waves will be good for 10 days straight and then the contest comes and they go flat. You have to maintain a positive attitude to win heats. It’s a balance with the mind and body coming together when it’s small like this.” 

On a balmy Sunday morning, the conditions were less than ideal for the surfers who attended the contest. With waves breaking at one to two feet the majority of time, surfers had to be patient and precise about the waves they chose to ride. 

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MHS sophomore Frankie Seely took first in the overall women’s shortboard and second in the women’s longboard. Tom Caen placed third in the men’s bodyboard and Henry Jenkinson claimed third in the men’s shortboard. Kerns Churchill, Graham McKenzie and Tristan McGowan won their heats in men’s shortboard and men’s longboard. 

“Everyone has been working hard and showing up to practice,” Seely said. “Every day we go out there to have fun and try to improve our surfing.” 

Seely is one of 40 Malibu surfers who participate in the winter Scholastic Surf Series. Moss, a surfer himself for more than 30 years, took over as head coach this year with the intention of taking the MHS surf program to the next level. Rip Curl, ZJ’s Boarding House and Duke’s Restaurant sponsor the Sharks. 

“This is a really exciting year. My depth of talent is so deep this year. The talent is here in our area,” Moss explained. “Kids are starting to surf in third grade. There is a commitment to practice, to training, to attitude and to grades.” 

The team meets twice a week at 6:30 a.m. at Zuma Beach to surf with Moss as he teaches the finer points of the popular sport. 

“I’m super stoked to surf with the kids. Sharing waves and feeding off their energy,” Moss said. “That’s what it is all about. Having a good time with them.” 

The season began on October 28 at Mandalay Beach in Oxnard. Malibu knocked off Dos Pueblos, 61-47, with Seely winning the women’s shortboard. Teammate Moorea Maguire took first in the women’s longboard, while Seely placed third and Henry Buckley took third in the men’s longboard. 

Three weeks later at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, Malibu defeated Thousand Oaks High School, 74-39. It was a big day for Malibu with four first place medalists. Seely conquered the women’s longboard, Buckley placed first in the men’s longboard, Thelen Worrel took first place honors in the men’s shortboard and Caen continued his dominance from last season with a victory in the bodyboard competition. 

“This has been so much fun. We are one big family,” said Maguire, who is team captain along with Chris Finck. “This is like a real team. We can pull from the bench. We have a lot of girls this year so we don’t have to double up in shortboard and longboard.” 

“I love being the team captain,” Finck added. “You have to be there for everyone supporting them. Give them tips if they need it. Surfing is my life. If I didn’t have surfing, I don’t have a life.” 

The Scholastic Surf Series (SSS) was formed by the Western Surfing Association and is divided into three sections—San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. The Sharks will compete at the Santa Monica Tower on January 27 and at the Ventura Fairgrounds on March 10. The opponents have yet to be determined. 

At the conclusion of the five contests, the SSS will determine which MHS surfers earn the opportunity to compete at the SSS High School State Championships to be held April 20–22 at Oceanside Harbor. 

“My overall goal is to have a surf program at Malibu High [as part of the academic curriculum]. The school supports us,” Moss said with enthusiasm. “I would love to see a first period surf class. We have become a Division One surf program. I want to build Malibu High into a dynasty team.” 

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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