Chris Keet was in the zone at the National Scholastic Surfing Association’s West Coast Championships last week at the Huntington Beach Pier.
Keet, the owner of Surf Happens surf school in Santa Barbara, won three division titles at the competition, taking top honors in the Explorer Men’s, Masters and Seniors categories in excellent 4- to 6-foot conditions.
He hopes to carry the momentum into the NSAA Nationals next month, but he may pass on the event because he and his fiance are expecting their first child at around the same time.
“My priorities are here at home,” he said. “I’m not even really thinking about nationals at this point, but if it worked out to compete, I would be amped.”
Keet has posted three runner up appearances at Nationals in recent years.
Keet emerged victorious in his preliminary rounds, making his way into the finalson Sunday May 22. His sweep in the finals began with a close match in the Men’s division that pitted experience, fitness, and power against youthful exuberance and new school maneuvers. After netting a few solid rides Keet took the lead from Dimitri Papavassiliou of Malibu with a single off the lip re-entry on a powerful close out that netted a 5.67.
He won with a total score of 10.34 to Papavassiliou’s 8.77. Santa Barbara’s Shane Orr took third at 8.23
The Masters final was a tight battle between Keet, Seal Beach’s Mikey Riley, and San Diego’s Rick Takahashi, with all three competitors in striking range. The heat flip flopped several times until Keet gained the advantage mid-heat with a series of powerful top turns and vertical blasts. From there he used compettive strategy and good wave selection to strengthen his lead with a 6.67 back up score that gave him the win.
The final scores were: Keet 12.20, Reilly 11.03 and Takahashi 10.10
The momentum swung Keet’s way in the Seniors final and pulled off his highest scores of the contest, netting a 6.67 and an 8.83 for the win.
“The entire week has been like a dream and I am so stoked to come home with the wins,” Keet said. “The waves started off big and challenging, and the finals day featured such amazing conditions, that I was just enjoying surfing and having fun out there. Competing is all about having focus and strategy, trying to pick the best waves, while always keeping yourself in the game. All the other guys are amazing surfers, and to win at the state level is such an honor.”
Keet is the founder of Surf Happens and has coached some of the top athletes that have emerged from our area such as Lakey Peterson, Catherine Clark, and Demi Boelsterli. In addition, he has coached the Crane School Surf Team to eight straight Channel Coast region titles in the ISF and now the Scholastic Surfing League.
Surf Happens also runs the coveted Rincon Classic, and recently obtained official nonprofit status for their environmental and charitable works.