Contest turns surfers into knights on shining water

It was at a San Dieguito High School reunion surf contest put on by Oly Norris where I discussed the idea for surf jousting with one of my favorite surfers, Andrew LaGreco. Surfing contests, we both decided, were too complicated. What they needed was simplification through a changing of format. Brad Gerlach had done something there with The Game, but still the event depended on good behavior. Now a battle where surfers are actually encouraged to ram into each other and swing sticks toward their opponents, trying to knock each other off their boards, a last man standing sort of brawl, should bring the blood thirsty among us to our feet.
Wooden lances, metallic swords and iron maces were quickly ruled out as too heavy and brutal for these wimpy PC times. But a joust, wearing a helmet and using a padded lance, while safe and bloodless, could work well for such purposes.
Switchfoot drummer Chad Butler took to the idea of surf jousting when I proposed it to him three years ago for the second annual Switchfoot Bro Am. Chad quickly went to INT Softboards, made some amazing helmets, padded some lances and we were ready to go. Then, that morning, there was an oil spill, which because of the quick thinking of Justin Cote, led to a classic game of dodgeball (that Curren kid has an arm).
Last year we again tried surf jousting, but the surf, which was a solid head-high, proved uncooperative. This year was just right, and jousters from various teams put their best lances forward, with Transworld Surf’s editor Chris Cote leading a valiant charge in heat one, flattening all opponents.
Each round sent surfers gurgling into the whitewater, even Chad, who had done so much to advance the sport and is a sure bet to make surf jousting’s hall of fame when it opens in fall, was run through by an opponent’s trusty lance as fair maidens sighed on the sand.
Warriors swung and poked and fought for four hard heats, until the finals, when the black knights, Chris and Justin Cote, battled the white knights, Jon and Tim Foreman. In an interview with CNN, favored knight Chris Cote expressed skepticism, saying, “I don’t know how this can be fair, since our opponents are literally paying the judges.” The gauntlet thrown, the dark knight grabbed his lance, turned toward the noble father of brothers Foreman, Lord Mark, and shouted, “Your sons are most valiant kind sir, but be assured they shall be toppled this day.”
Tim Forman’s stead was unsteady and stumbled at the gate, leaving three lancers to fight it out in the pit. Then, Jon made a run from the north country, charging on a long right, skewering the brave Chris Cote and sending him to the sidelines to dress his many wounds.
The battle was fierce and Justin and Jon found a set wave, swung into position and came to their feet, lances blazing, before being locked together in mortal combat as a hush fell over the crowd. The two stood on their feet, neither budging for what seemed like minutes, before a final mighty push from Justin Cote sent the mighty Jon Foreman to the bottom of the ocean, the victory complete as Cote stood atop Forman’s mighty steed, claiming victory, lance over his head, straddling both his mount and his rivals.
The cup, which was fashioned in secret from a block of solid silver by a skilled Tuscan craftsman, apparently a descendant of Merlin himself, was sent to the engravers where it will bear the name of the noble knight whose tale is now being sung from Point Loma to Malibu.


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