Since 1962, one of the summer’s most prestigious events, the International Surf Festival, has seen various beach and ocean sports and this past weekend’s 50th edition was no exception.
Always the most popular was the very large and crowded Charles Saikley Six-Person Beach Volleyball Tournament, that was also celebrating its 50th year at Manhattan Beach Pier Beach. Perhaps doing the biggest celebration was Team Simmzy’s, made up mostly of recent Manhattan Beach Mira Costa High graduates, but several others along with them.
Simmzy’s ended a three-year reign of Smack, formerly Team Magnum P.I., with a 15-9 championship victory on Sunday in front of a crowd of about 15,000 fans surrounding the one court.
Coming off three consecutive Saikley Tournament wins in 2008, 2009 and 2010, Smack was defeated in one game, only to bounce back with blowout wins, including an 11-3 win over the Young and Restless in the losers’ bracket final.
Simmzy’s went unbeaten in the classic, that also included a 15-11 win over the Young and Restless, that also consisted of mostly recent past Mira Costa High players, in the winner’s bracket final.
Smack had mostly very experienced players that have pro beach volleyball experience, including in the Association of Volleyball Professionals that folded during the middle of last season and some even that had played in a few of the FIVA tournaments this year. They also had an average height of about 6-feet-6, that made it very hard for most opponents to even compete with them.
Simmzy’s, though, had some good height, themselves, and used their talent to get through the Smack. Behind the strong play of an 18-year-old Frenchman Kevin Tiltie, who will be starting at UC Irvine in a few weeks, Simmzy’s led throughout virtually the entire game then pulled away to knock off the former Magnum P.I. team, that was named after a famous 1980’s television sitcom about a detective in Hawaii. Even with the name change, their players still dressed in 1980’s summer wear. Tiltie will also be on the Anteaters’ men’s volleyball team, one of the top college programs in the United States during recent years.
“I feel real good about knocking off Smack,” Simmzy’s middle blocker Austin Zahn, a former volleyball standout at Redondo High and University of Southern California who will be playing in the professional indoors in Spain very soon, said. “We beat a very good team and we didn’t taste defeat throughout the whole tournament.”
For the women, Team 900, also made up of several ex-Mustangs, won its third consecutive title with a 15-11 win against Team Moonlight.
Team 900 was sparked by pro players Carrie Dodd and Leanne McSorley, along with current Mira Costa High girls’ volleyball head coach Lisa Zimmerman and ex-USC standout Diane Copenhagen.
There was reportedly as many as 60,000 fans in attendance at Saturday’s preliminary round-robin round that included a total of 120 teams.
Sunday morning was highlighted by another popular event, the Two-Mile Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach Pier Ocean Swim.
There was no ending dynasty for the men as 41-year-old Alex Kostich from Los Angeles won with a time of 39 minutes and 12 seconds. Kostich won by nearly two minutes over 18-year-old runner-up Jonathan Diaz, a recent Redondo High swimming star who swam the course at 41:04. Placing third was Micah Carlson clocking 41:28.
Kostich has won this race a few other times in the past, and Carlson, a 28-year-old Hawthorne resident, also won it a couple of times.
For the women, it was 20-year-old former Mira Costa High swimming standout Taylor Spivey that came out on top in 41:34, good for a fourth place overall finish. Placing right behind Spivey in second place and fifth overall was 22-year-old Luane Rowe timing 41:41. Spivey is a distance swimmer at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
In the two-mile beach run in Hermosa Beach on Saturday, 42-year-old John Fedoroff of Thousand Oaks, a former South Torrance High standout distance runner, winning the race in a blazing time of 12:44.
“I’ve run this race a lot faster,” Fedoroff, who graduated from South in 1987, said.
Last April, Fedoroff finsihed 143rd overall in two hours, 34 minutes and 35 seconds in the prestigious Boston Marathon.
The surfing event, that also took place just about 200 feet south of the beach run start and finish line, was highlighted by Conner Beaty, who will be a senior at Redondo High at the end of this month, who won the boys age 16-20 longboard, the boys 16-20 shortboard and the overall men’s open competition. He was named as the event’s top surfer.
Other winners included Jessie Rowan (women’s open), Brian Long (Men’s 21 and over longboard) and Cole Tuschman (boys 15 and under shortboard).
Venice Beach lifeguards proved to be dominant in the lifeguard competitions, winning Friday night’s Los Angeles County Lifeguard Bud Stevenson Relay and leading L.A. County-Central Section (also including Dockweiler Beach, El Segundo and Santa Monica) International Judge Taplin Relay on Saturday. Both relays, includeded beach running, swimming, surf ski, paddleboarding and dory boats. These events were at Hermosa Beach Pier.