The hundreds, if not thousands, of people who ventured out onto Stearns Wharf on Saturday found more than the usual mix of fisherman, shops and boats arriving and exiting the harbor.
It was the first-ever Semana Nautica Ocean Water Polo Tournament, which was held in the pier’s armpit between Ty Warner’s Sea Center and the Harbor Restuarant. The event attracted plenty of attention as eight teams vied for the title in the water below.
It came down to UCSB Dream Team and Team Turbo, which met undefeated in the round-robin style tournament. All eight teams played seven best 2-of-3 matches.
Team Turbo and UCSB Dream Team split the first two sets 6-2.
In the end, event organizer Wolf Wigo, who’s also the head coach for the Gaucho men’s team, said the UCSB varsity players were in better condition winning the final set 6-3 to take the championship.
The UCSB Dream Team consisted of Nick Tomasello (MVP), Derek Shoemaker, Brian Shoemaker, Myles Christian, Jake Miller, Bryce Miller.
The Goleta Dolphins finished in 3rd place with the help former UCSB star Kendell Olds, current star Brendan McElroy and a strong goalkeeping effort of Dennis Van Alpen.
It’s not the first time Wigo has organized a ocean water polo tournament in Santa Barbara. The first attempt happened off of East Beach, where it was near impossible for spectators to enjoy the action from the beach.
Stearns Wharf as a venue allowed people to get much closer to the action, looking down on the court from above.
“This is much better,” Wigo said. “The city has been great to help us host this.”
While he didn’t heavily promote the event this year, Wigo hopes to grow it into a larger attraction for both local water polo enthusiasts and tourists alike.