Coronado surfers from across generations converged at Shipwreck Beach on Sunday, December 23rd to take part in the 2018 Lorton Mitchell Surf Fest. Now in its 4th year, the “Lorton” remembers Lorton Mitchell, the master builder of custom Coronado homes who also gave his time generously to future generations of Coronado surfers as a middle and high school surf coach, and all-around beacon of positivity and surfing stoke.
Participants at this year’s event could not have asked for a more beautiful morning to settle in on the beach and boardwalk and catch up, sharing coffee from Café 1134, breakfast burritos from Night and Day Café, and donuts from Clayton’s all while enjoying the company of friends and family.
Like the contests of years past, the Lorton is an event that draws folks from as close as down the road, and from the corners of the country to give everyone a chance to stay connected to the past, present and future of Coronado surfing culture. No matter how the waves shape up for the contest, it’s always a great event.
As it turns out, Mother Nature was on board this year with North Pacific storms churning out some of the best waves for the contest in recent memory. Throughout the morning, competitors were treated to consistent 3 to 4 foot waves providing the perfect platform to showcase some truly world-class surfing. There was a division for everyone from kids under 13 all the way through to the Master’s division. This year’s event also saw incredible growth in the adaptive surfing category with world-class athletes competing in three different adaptive surfing divisions. Pete Cuffaro reprised his entertaining commentary at the microphone as he called out the best maneuvers and shared a story here and there. The action broke for a mid-morning “expression session” as everyone paddled out together just to enjoy the waves and cheer each other on. Between the great food, great waves, and great company, the surfing day was an unqualified success!
After sunset the gathering headed over to our local VFW for music, dinner, awards, and the always popular raffle and silent auction. Carolyn Mitchell welcomed the group and thanked all for making the day a special one. Aside from being the sentinel event for the Coronado Surfing Association, the Lorton is a fundraiser for the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation. The event also helps fund the Coronado Surfing Association’s Surfing Scholars program and its commitment to the environment and support of the surfing culture in Coronado.
The awards ceremony always provides a fun time as contestants move front and center to accept their trophies and prizes. The Women’s Open, which is always a crowd favorite, was as competitive as ever with Sydney Zoehrer defending her crown by taking the top spot followed by Jordan Alstad, DaniRose Hill, Trudie Nixon, and Rosie Harris. While Sydney won the top spot, she was also recognized with the Best Wipeout Award after charging a big set wave full throttle proving that taking big risks can lead to great rewards!
The Men’s Open is always hotly contested and the year-long bragging rights that come along with the 1st place trophy are priceless. This year, defending champion Bryan Guter of Emerald City Surf Shop came out on top again and it was no coincidence that Bryan also managed to hoist this year’s trophy for Best Noseride! Close behind in the Men’s Open were Liam Casey, Sven Karlsson, Doug Smith and Bart Albin.
The Men’s Masters division was lead by local surf maestro Mike Gillard who is not only a surfing legend, but has also taken on the mantle of Coronado Middle and High School surf coach this year! In 2nd place was Tommy Harris followed by Terry Gillard, Don McCleod, Craig Warriner, and Tim Casey.
Each year the Women’s Masters division showcases some fierce competition and amazing camaraderie. Mallory Zeller lead the pack followed by Dawn Nguyen, Mel Riley, Lisa Thompson, and Sarah Farnsworth-Neilson.
The future of surfing in Coronado is bright indeed with plenty of our young surfers turning out to showcase their skills! The winner of the Boys Under 13 division was Shane Cannon followed closely by Luke Johnson. Ryder Albin, Noah Pierre, Lincoln Blauert, and Shilow New rounded out the results. Lincoln was also the recipient of the first annual Most Inspirational Grom award after judges were impressed by his sheer stoke throughout the day!
The competition was also fierce in the Junior Men’s Division (14-17 years old) but it was Shane Gillard that was left hoisting the winner’s trophy at the VFW. He was followed by Ben Ruef, Jo Williamson, Anthony Dick, Ryan Herman, and Sam Zoehrer.
The middle school girls are always a force to be reckoned with and this year Zoe Searles defended last year’s crown in the Girls Under 13 division. The highly competitive field included 2nd place finisher Marianna Dick, followed by Rylie Brenden, Ana Sofia, Jesse Hill, May Moreno, and Alexis Hammond.
The adaptive heats brought some of the biggest sets of the morning, and the contest was lucky to feature some of the best adaptive surfers on the planet. In the prone category, local surfer and TEAM USA member Quinn Waitley took the top spot. She was followed by Beto Gurmilan, Parker Olenick, and Johannes Laing. Chris Oberle took 1st place in the Waveski division followed by Spike Kane, Mark Thornton, Geoff Brown, and Sherri Altstadt. In the Prone division, Ling Pai took 1st place followed by Ryan Gambrell and Lera Doederlein. The competition’s first ever Lorton Stoke Award was given to David Waitley and “Team Quinn” for their commitment to enhancing surfing culture in Coronado! Congratulations!
With the last trophies awarded, the rest of the evening was filled with music, dancing, and prizes. Surfboards from Boardworks, and from master shaper Joe Bark, a SUP from Isle, a signed skate deck from local skate legend Steve Cathey … and many more prizes left with party-goers as the night wound down.
In every respect this was most successful Lorton yet with more participants in more divisions represented than in any year past. Thanks to Emerald City for its ongoing support of the Lorton and the Coronado Surfing Association throughout the year as its Marquee Sponsor. Thanks also to the CSA’s Annual Supporting Sponsors this year: Lorton Mitchell Custom Homes and Isle Surf and SUP and to all those who donated to the event this year! A special thanks to the volunteers who helped make the event such an incredible success!