Malibu High surf team riding high after victory

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Bottom, from left: Trevor Robbins, Tom Caen, Dimitri Papavassiliou, Sara Toussieng, Henry Buckley, Moorea Maguire and Jackson O’Connor of the Malibu High surf team. Photo courtesy of Elaine Robbins

The Malibu High surf team registered its most impressive win of the season last Sunday as it defeated Oak Park, 74-28, as part of the Scholastic Surf Series (SSS). The Sharks were dominant throughout the contest as they captured their second win and are now 2-1-1 on the year.

With eight high schools in attendance paired up in four separate dual matches, MHS garnered the most points on the day to claim first place for the event, held at Campus Point at UC Santa Barbara. The Sharks have now moved into second place overall for the “Los Angeles to Santa Barbara” high school division.

Sophomore Sara Toussieng led the way for Malibu as she won the women’s shortboard and women’s longboard events against Oak Park. Toussieng, the starting goalie for the school’s girls’ water polo team, rode the waves with determination and steady footwork to sweep the women’s events.

“I have been questioning if I wanted to keep doing contests because I love surfing for fun,” Toussieng said. “But getting first in both makes me feel a lot better. It’s days like this that make me realize what I am thankful for.”

The 32 members of the MHS surf team rise early for practices on Thursday mornings at 6 a.m. at Zuma Beach and Sundays at 9 a.m. at the County Line. Coach Doug Robbins and his wife, Elaine, and assistant coach Michael Moss have built a program that has become increasingly popular with more students joining each winter.

“We took over four years ago and there were only five or six kids on the team,” Elaine said. “From there, word of mouth spread and we picked up sponsorships that got the kids excited to join the team. We have a really good chance to win the overall team title and advance to the State Championships in Oceanside in April.”

Sponsors such as Drill, Duke’s Restaurant, Malibu Surfing Association, Malibu Beach Supply Company, Tim Ryan Surfboards, Arbor and Sticky Bumps have donated surfing equipment and helped raise funds to cover entry fees, insurance and membership. Their support has given the Robbins the necessary funds to form a strong team, which Moss will take over next year as head coach.

“Doug and Elaine have done such a great job with the program,” said Moss, who has 28 years of experience in surfing. “I want to keep the positive ball rolling with the kids. It’s rewarding to surf with the kids on a regular basis and watch them grow as they work on the functional dynamics of surfing itself.”

MHS has 25 members of its team competing in the shortboard, six in the longboard and one bodyboarder, Tom Caen. Chris Finck and Dimitri Papavassiliou each won their respective heats for the men’s shortboard against Oak Park, as did Jackson O’Connor in men’s longboard. Caen finished in second overall but has already won three events this year.

After placing second versus Oak Park in the men’s longboard, senior Trevor Robbins dominated the individual portion of the longboarding event as he finished in first place out of 12 competitors from Malibu, Palisades, Oak Park, Agoura, Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos.

“I did well but I just hope for better waves and better conditions next time,” said Robbins, a member of the MHS surf team since sixth grade. “We have a strong team and it’s been a good season so far.”

The SSS was formed by the Western Surfing Association and is divided into three sections- San Diego, Orange County and LA to Santa Barbara. As a member of the SSS, the Sharks have competed this season against Dos Pueblos at the Ventura Fairgrounds (61-49 loss), Palisades at the Heavens of Leo Carillo (70-33 win) and Santa Barbara at Mandalay Beach in Oxnard (56-56 tie).

The victory against Oak Park provides momentum for the Sharks as they prepare for their final matchup of the season on February 26 at the Santa Monica Tower at 8:30 a.m. The opponent has yet to be determined.

“I’m proud of all the kids who participated. They have stepped up to the plate at each event and did a good job,” Doug Robbins said.