Point Loma Nazarene University’s cliffside campus location contributes many benefits, including easy access to the ocean, beautiful sunsets and a cool ocean breeze. On top of that and much more, it also provides the perfect location to support an intercollegiate surf team like no other.
The surf team here at PLNU is taking advantage of these benefits and putting them to use. As the team returns this year after four consecutive national championships, they plan to show up and show out. All while having loads of fun along the way.
“My favorite part about being on the surf team is definitely the comradery between all the surfers. Everyone is always lifting each other up and it really spreads the stoke,” said freshman team member, Carter Sieverts.
PLNU’s surf team is comprised of both an A and a B team in order to give more members the opportunity to surf. Both teams are composed of six men short boarders, two women and one man or woman longboarder. The competition team has a total of 18 surfers with five alternatives to fill the place of anyone incapable of competing.
All college teams compete in the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA), which is the premier amateur surfing league in the United States.
The regular college team season consists of a four-event schedule all leading up to the State Championships, which continues to the national championships held in June. The top eight teams with the most points compete in this competition.
Surfing competitions are structured differently from most other athletic competitions where there is always a clear-cut winner. At every surf competition there are six judges who sit on a tower for a clear view of the surfers.
Competitions are composed of heats. Each heat is 15 minutes long with six surfers in the water competing. When the starting horn is blown, the surfers head out into the water. The surfers in the heat are allowed to catch as many waves as they want and every wave is scored by the judges, but only the top two are counted. Each wave is scored out of 10 points and the surfers are judged based on difficulty, speed, power and a variety of maneuvers.
At the end of the 15-minute heat, the judges announce first, second and third place. The top three surfers in each heat advance to the next round. Normally there are three rounds per competition.
If a surfer places on the podium in their competition, they receive a set number of points that go towards the surfer’s school team. First place gets six points, second gets five points, and third gets four points.
Competing as a surf team instead of as an individual removes a lot of selfishness from the sport and gives surfers more than one reason to perform well.
“It is a lot of fun to compete together rather than individually. I grew up competing in surfing and it can be really selfish. Competing with a team brings a fun aspect to contests where you get to cheer others on and you’re surfing for more than just yourself,” said Andrew Niemann, co-captain of the surf team.
While surfing as a team does add new aspects to the sport, a lot of pressure is still placed on each individual member of the team. Every surfer on the team has a different way of preparing themselves for their heats and settling their nerves.
“Preparing for a competition, I like to get input from the surf team captains about some strategies on where to sit in the lineup, how the wave is breaking, etc. Right before my heat I call my dad so he could calm my nerves down,” said Brianne Wong, freshman surf team member.
“I prepare for comps by listening to music and getting into focus. I like to relax and watch the surf 30 minutes before my heat,” said Carter Siervets.
The surf team does not have a set coach, but there are two team captains. This year’s captains are Andrew Niemann and Brennan Aubol. Along with having no coach, the team also does not often have specified practices.
“Surfing is a unique sport in that all the team surf individually almost every day so organized practices aren’t crucial in getting people to go surf. We have been trying to surf together as a team once a week. The majority of practices are simply surfing together but as we near contests, practices will look like running mock heats in jerseys to get the team used to surfing heats,” said Niemann.
With one competition under their belt already, the PLNU surf team is ready for the season and hoping to bring home another national championship.