OCEANSIDE — The Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro wrapped up last weekend with a surprise win from rising star surfer Samantha Sibley, now the competition’s youngest champion.
The 17-year-old from San Clemente beat several top-ranked professional surfers, bumping her from No. 52 to No. 6 on the World Qualifying Series (QS) rankings. The win also gives her a strong shot at making it into next season of the World Championship Tour, the major league of professional surfing.
Sibley beat previous Super Girl champion Tatiana Weston-Webb, QS-ranked No. 8, who finished second. Last year’s runner-up Caroline Marks and Bronte Macaulay both finished third.
Sibley became the competition’s super hero when she stood at the top of the podium wearing the coveted Super Girl Cape.
“I’ve been coming to this event ever since I was little, standing on this beach, taking pictures with all my heroes, and now to be the Super Girl … I’m at a loss for words,” Sibley said about her win.
Throughout the festival, which ran from July 26 to July 28, many children — boys and girls — wore smaller versions of the cape as they watched multiple women dominate the waves that crashed against the Oceanside Pier.
According to its organizers, the festival is about empowering women both in the water, with its surfers, and out of the water with its entertainment series and with its other competition, the Super Girl Gamer Pro.
Super Girl Gamer Pro is the only all-women, multi-title esports tournament in the United States. This was its third year as a competition, which was set up with all the essentials — computers, headphones and microphones, gaming chairs and a live stream of the competition — right on the beach.
Elizabeth Torres won the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate contest and Team Bot Difference took first place in the League of Legends showdown. Anna Damir took first in the Hearthstone challenge with Becky Booth in second, and Team CLG RED won the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition.
Even the festival’s concert series aimed to empower women with featured headliner Natasha Bedingfield and an all-women DJ competition.
The surf competition also featured a celebrity surf invitational. Switchfoot bassist Tim Foreman and Super Girl competitor Chelsea Roett narrowly won the invitational against the team of decorated, professional snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis and Carlsbad native Alyssa Spencer, a local rising surfer who currently sits at No. 12 on the QS rankings.
Fellow surfers, gamers and enthusiasts of the two sports attended the festival along with vacationing families looking to have a good time on the beach. The Methvins from Upland in San Bernardino County were one of those families.
Kim Methvin said she along with her husband and two kids were on their way to Carlsbad when they decided to stop by Oceanside. That’s when they stumbled upon the Super Girl Surf Pro.
“We thought, ‘let’s stop and enjoy this,’” she said.
The family of four watched from rocks on the beach underneath the Pier as Sibley and Kirra Pinkerton faced off against each other in Round 2 of the competition on Friday. Luke Methvin, 12, recorded a video with his phone of the surfers in the water as Pinkerton won that particular heat with Sibley coming in second.
The young Methvin was able to get footage of Pinkerton tearing through a rather large wave.
“The waves are big so it’s pretty tricky to figure out the lineup,” 16-year-old Pinkerton later told The Coast News after her win.
According to Methvin, her son first thought the competition in Oceanside was the US Open. When he found out that it was Super Girl, featuring all women surfers, he was still excited to check it out.
Luke Methvin and his father are both surfers and had plans to hit up San Elijo State Beach in Encinitas that weekend.
Methvin said her son doesn’t care if its men or women out in the water.
“Just to see a solid, good surfer — that’s what he loves,” she said.
Luke said the competition was “cool” and doesn’t think gender matters when it comes to the sport he loves.
“I think it’s so cool that they’re able to do this, making it just as good as the guys can, sometimes even better,” he said about the competition’s surfers. “I mean think of Bethany Hamilton, she’s got to be one of the greatest surfers alive.”
Luke didn’t get to see Hamilton surf while he was there on Friday. The famous professional surfer who lost an arm from a shark attack when she was 13 faced off against last year’s champion Carissa Moore on Saturday. Moore beat Hamilton on Sunday, defending her title until Sibley later took the cape.
Hamilton also provided commentary during the Adaptive Surf Competition, which was won by 16-year-old Olivia Stone, a congenital bilateral above the elbow amputee.
The festival may have been about empowering women, but it showed that even boys like Luke can look up to the women of surfing as well.
“They work so hard to be able to do this,” he said. “They deserve all of this. It’s super cool.”
Photo Caption: San Clemente’s Samantha Sibley defeated Tatiana Weston-Webb to win the 2019 Super Girl Surf Pro championship in Oceanside. Photo by Abraham Jewett
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son