Garland’s the man at 26th Rincon Classic

After snoozing for much of the winter, Rincon woke up just in time for the 26th annual Rincon Classic this past Saturday and Sunday, rewarding the faithful with two days of solid swell, sunshine and some spectacular surfing capped by an awards banquet honoring the weekend’s best.

Kilian Garland in his final heat.

Sunny skies and unseasonably-warm weather came too, along with over 1,000 spectators to celebrate Santa Barbara’s rich surfing community.

Kilian Garland was Sunday’s big winner, taking first place in the Pro Division. The decorated 21-year-old received a $1,500 check, but was absolutely giddy when he looked into his prize bag and found a “Surf Hero” Go Pro camera that mounts to a surfboard and can take still pictures or video.

The super-light five-megapixel camera has a fisheye lens and was just one of many prizes handed out by contest director Chris Keet at the Maritime Museum on Sunday night.

“I figured that it would be something that even a pro would get stoked about as a prize in addition to taking home cash,” said Keet of the Go Pro camera. “It seems that the idea worked!”

“I just really got lucky with getting in the rythym of set waves,” recalled Garland of the final heat.  “I just tried to pounce early and it turned out to work good.”

But for Garland and everyone involved with the event, it was about more than the prizes.

“I just love hanging out with everyone on the beach and out in the water. Doing the contest with my father, that’s as good as it gets,” shared Garland, who grew up surfing Rincon with his Dad. “It’s just really become a good thing for me to want to win it every year. A good thing to aim for.”

Garland bested Tarik Khashoggi and Brian Aresco in the final to make it back-to-back titles and three-in-the-last four years.

“The contest had really good organization this year,” Garland said, a credit to Keet who has been running Santa Barbara’s biggest surfing competition for nine years now. “They had the live webcast which was great. People in other places can see what’s going on. Probably every year it’s going to grow to a bigger event.”

While the Pro Division was the only one offering prize money, the surfing in the other classes was just as competitive.

Brian Aresco, who finished second to Garland in the money heat, had already won the men’s division by edging past-winner Adam Lambert with a two-wave total of 13.5 to 12.5.

“I got a wave at the very top of indicator. It was just one of those waves that lined up perfectly and I got a really good line,” described the 28 year old. “It was really fast and really clean and that’s what Rincon is all about and I think that’s the way to win it.”

Donald Day was another surfing in multiple divisions. The regular-foot followed Aresco and Lambert in the men’s but pulled out the win over Justin Pawl and Brad Frohling in the Masters final.

Demi Boelsterli took home yet another Rincon title, easily winning the women’s shortboard final by a score of 14.5 to 8.

In women’s longboarding, Chelsea Curtis won the title by virtue of a tiebreaker with second-place finisher Miranda Joseph.

Lakey Peterson received the highest score of any competitor during the final heats, posting a 15 to win the Wahines division.

Pismo’s D.J. Underwood traveled south for his first Classic and picked up the men’s longboard title by pulling a helicopter on a chest-high wave, besting a tight group consisting of Cole Robbins, J.P. Garcia, Daniel Graham and John Shields.

“Honestly, I got up on the nose and it felt like a good position to be on it,” recalled Underwood. “I just let it come around and went with it. I wasn’t thinking win or anything, I knew I had to do something, I just went for it.”

Everyone was going for it in the Boys division. The youngsters’ competitive zeal came out in the six-man final that saw Parker Coffin come out on top. Coffin beat out Pat Curren and Decker McAllister to earn the first-place trophy.

A regular competitor on the NSSA circuit, Coffin says the Classic is like no other contest around.

“Having a contest at Rincon is really sick,” he said. “It’s such a good wave that any wave you get has scoring potential. It’s just the ones that you get that are the best ones that allow you to win.”

Redbull Airshow winner Robert Curtis echoed Coffin’s thoughts on the unique quality of wave found at the event.

“It’s always good surf because there is a holding period for the contest – real surfing in real good waves – that’s why I love it,” said the 19-year-old.

But to organizer Keet, who grew up surfing at Rincon, the contest is more about community than competition.

Sunday’s banquet brought all the contestants together to wrap up the festivities, and included dinner, drinks, a slideshow, a live auction to raise money for local charities, an awards presentation and live music by local band Cornerstone.