The 1st Annual Hot Products Huntington Beach Moto Surf & Freeride Exhibition kicked off April 14th and 15th and made for one heck of an amazing event. It has been a 17 year hiatus since the last surf race in Southern California, 25 years since there was a race in Huntington Beach! Promotor Ross Wallach from RPM Racing Enterprises, along with several supporters from the industry, worked their butts off to resurrect west coast surf racing. Racers and freeriders traveled from all over to take part in this special opportunity, which was also just weeks prior announced as an IJSBA World Finals qualifying event.
Over 100 racers and freeriders rolled in on Friday to 30 mph winds, big blown out waves and chilly conditions, and some thought twice about unloading their equipment. But come Saturday morning, the conditions couldn’t have been better. With a high of over 80 degrees, blue skies, 2-3 foot waves with the occasional 4-foot swell, it made for perfect racing and freeride conditions.
The event consisted of four motos; two on Saturday, two on Sunday, overall win goes to the one with the lowest points for the weekend. Freeride exhibitions took place mid-morning, at lunch, and in the afternoon. No competition here, the name of the game was to go big and show the fans how cool this stuff is.
The feeling of being a part of this event was surreal knowing there were literally thousands of spectators watching from the beach and along the pier. It was easy to know when something happened because you’d hear the mass of spectators gasp or cheer with excitement! The local lifeguards were also spotted watching the event from their towers. The city mentioned there were over 25,000 spectators that watched the event over the two days!
This event not only brought out veteran riders who haven’t raced since the 90s, but also a handful of “surf rookies” as well! “This was my first time riding in the surf,” Nick Giles mentioned after his morning moto on his Blaster. “It’s much more technical, you have to watch the waves, time your moves right, and when in doubt, send it!”
Spectators were treated to some amazing racing action throughout the weekend and got to experience breathtaking tricks performed by the freeriders. Both Taylor Curtis from T.C. Freeride and Mark Gomez both raced and rode freeride. These guys can to both amazingly well. Taylor Curtis completely dominated the Vet Ski GP class on his SXR1500 and Mark Gomez showed that he can race with the best and finished 2nd place in moto 1 of the Pro-Am Ski GP class on his Rickter!
The class to watch all weekend was Pro-Am Ski GP with 9 entries including Canada’s Mike “Klipper” Klippenstein, Kommander Industries’ Dustin Motzouris and Lake Havasu’s young gun Kole Cramer. These guys battled back and forth all weekend. In Moto 1, Dustin was out front leading until he sucked up a rope in his pump and dropped to 5th. Klipper ran away with the lead while Kole took 3rd behind Mark Gomez. In Moto 2, Klipper got out to an early lead but was quickly passed by Dustin on the first lap. Kole and Klipper battled back and forth for 2nd, Kole edging him out at the half way mark. Kole maintained his push to the lead by getting just boat lengths away from Dustin when the checkered flag flew.
Again in Moto 3, Kole and Klipper went at it, swapping positions for 1st and 2nd several times. It’s proof that racing in the waves is tough, while Kole tried to maintain pressure on Klipper, he eventually made a mistake that cost him the lead and had to settle for 2nd, Dustin rounding out the top 3. The final moto of the weekend, Kole crashed on a wave coming off the start and worked his way up from dead last to 5th. Klipper got the holeshot but was later passed by Dustin for the lead. The overall win for the weekend went to Klipper, 2nd place went to Dustin, and Kole rounded out the podium.
All over the beach you saw racers engaging with the community, answering questions and helping to increase awareness about our sport and how it’s still bad ass. Everyone we talked to we’re extremely excited about the event, and everyone that participated was happy that they did. Everybody loved the location and how well-organized the event was.
A lot of fans and spectators were overheard saying how much they love the venue and the racing and Free Riders thought the whole show was fantastic. Action sports photographer Ally Emig shot photos from the pier for Saturday’s last set of motos, and hearing the cheers, gasps, and “oohs” and “ahs” from the crowd brought a smile to her face. Ally said, “They were all blown away! From the racing to the freestyle, this event had them captivated from the start! They didn’t want to leave the pier! A lot of questions were asked, and I gladly answered them. Out of all the discussion, one question trumped them all: “When is the next race?!”
When we asked Ross about the event, he said, “As for me, it was a Monumental undertaking to accomplish in 3 months but I’m ecstatic the way everything went and the reception from the racers and the city and the fans made it all worthwhile. Hopefully this Rebirth of surf racing will lead to more events which I am optimistic that will happen as I’m already working on a second location for 2019. I’m just happy everybody had such a good time, super stoked how well everything turned out.”
So there you have it! The rebirth of West Coast Surf Racing is upon us. Stay tuned to rpmracingent.com for more information and development on next year’s surf series, and make sure you plan ahead, you won’t want to miss out!
All images provided by Allyson Emig; which full-sized, unedited versions can be purchased at her website allyjphoto.com.