The 2017 Lorton Mitchell Surf Fest.. a Day to Remember!
Coronado surfers from across generations converged at Shipwreck Beach on Saturday, November 25th to participate in the 2017 Lorton Mitchell Surf Fest. Now in its third year, the “Lorton” remembers Lorton Mitchell, the master builder of custom homes who also gave his time generously to shore up the foundation and structure of future generations of Coronado surfers as a middle and high school surf coach, and all-around beacon of positivity and surfing stoke.
Although heavy fog delayed the start of this year’s contest, it couldn't dampen the spirits of the surfers gathered over Thanksgiving weekend to give thanks and share waves. As one participant pointed out, the foggy hour gave everyone the chance to settle in on the beach and boardwalk and catch up, sharing coffee from Café 1134, breakfast burritos from Clayton’s, and enjoying the company of friends and family.
There has been a surf contest on Thanksgiving weekend in Coronado for 35 years running. Like the contests of years past, the Lorton is an event that draws family and friends from as close as down the road, and from the corners of the country to gives folks 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, once the fog lifted and the judges could catch sight of the competitors, the contest got off to a cracking start with waist to shoulder high waves. The day would see incredible feats of surfing prowess with competitors dancing across their boards, sliding along the ocean pulses with style and finesse (most of the time!). There was a division for everyone from kids under 13 all the way through to the Master’s division. Pete Cuffaro provided his always 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” that gave a brief respite for the judges and everyone paddled out together just to enjoy the waves and cheer each other on. Between the good food, good waves, and good company, the surfing day was an unqualified success!
The day moved to night and after sunset the gathering headed over to the VFW for dinner, awards, a raffle and silent auction, and an all around great time set to surf rhythms provided by the live band. Carolyn Mitchell welcomed the group and thanked all for making the day a special one. Aside from being a sentinel event for the Coronado Surfing Association, the Lorton is a fundraiser for the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation which funds research to fight the cancer that took Lorton Mitchell. 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 is always a good time with some gentle ribbing all around 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 taking the top spot followed by Mel Rogers, Lena Capetanakis, Trudy Nixon, Emily Bell, and Maggie Harris. Quinn Waitley won 1st place as an adaptive surfer and was an inspiration to everyone. Quinn followed up her Lorton performance with a trip to La Jolla the following weekend after qualifying for the World Adaptive Surfing Championship!
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, Bryan Guter of Emerald City Surf Shop came out on top. Close behind was Sven Karlsson, followed by Bart Albin, Erik Karlsson, John Weisbarth, and Charlie Hendrickson. Doug Smith missed the final this year but won no less than four raffle prizes including brunch at the Hotel Del for four. Not a bad consolation prize… Enjoy the mimosas Doug!
Although Emerald City was at the top of the heap in the Men’s Open, the Master’s Division found owner Kelly Kraus falling just behind winner Mike Gillard this year. In 3rd place was Tommy Harris followed by Jon Massie, Bill Reynolds (who snapped his board competing in the final! Sorry Bill!), and the intrepid Joe Ditler.
Judging by the incredible turn out of youth surfers at the Lorton, the future of surfing in Coronado is looking very bright indeed! The winner of the Boys Under 13 division was Shane Gillard. Second place went to Sam Zoehrer, followed by Shane Cannon, Liam Herlihy, Ryder Albin, and Sam Jennings .
The competition was fierce in the Junior Men’s Division (14-17 years old) but it was Jack Outlaw that was left hoisting the winner’s trophy at the VFW. He was followed closely by Tommy Loutzenheiser and the division was rounded out with Lance Mann, , Ben Ruef , Dylan Linde, and JoJo Williamson.
The girls were certainly not to be outdone by the boys. This up and coming group of competitive girls in the middle school age range is developing into a force to be reckoned with. The Girls Under 13 had two 1st place finishers: Jordan Alstad in the Shortboard division (also the winner of a new Holland’s bicycle!), and Zoe Searles in the Longboard division. The rest of the field included 2nd place finisher Jesse Hill, followed by Sophia Marine, Rylie Brenden, Abigail Brownlee, and Mariana Dick.
With the last trophies awarded, the rest of the evening was filled with music, dancing, and prizes. Surfboards from Boardworks, a SUP from Isle, 2 nights at the Hotel Del, massages from Bamboo, acupuncture from Indigo, art from Orange and Park… and many more prizes left with party-goers as the night finally wound down.
With the final fundraising tally still on the way, there is no doubt that this was the most successful Lorton yet with more participants and more age groups 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, the Clements Group, and Isle Surf and SUP and to all those who donated to the event this year!