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Jack’s Surfboards Pro kicking off in Huntington Beach; surfers also prepping for Junior Games

Area surfers are gearing up to battle at beaches near and far, training this week in Huntington Beach’s waves as the year’s competitive season heats up.

More than a hundred surfers from around the country and globe will be competing at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro, a World Surf League North America Qualifying Series event that kicks off on Thursday, April 4, and runs through Sunday, April 7. The World Surf League is based in Santa Monica.

A group of young surfers from USA Surfing entering that event are also in town training for the upcoming International Surfing Association World Junior Games in El Salvador for a chance to earn their country a medal.

The Jacks Surfboards Pro, which started in 2017, is held on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier and allows competitors to gain points toward their goal of moving up to higher-ranked contests around the globe. For San Clemente’s Sawyer Lindblad, last year’s win gave her the momentum she needed to eventually land on this year’s World Tour competing against the world’s best.

“It’s a reset from the year before,” said Newport Beach surfer Tyler Gunter, the second-place winner in 2022, as he finished up a warm-up session earlier this week. “It’s exciting to have all the brands down here. It feels like a big contest, like a mini-US Open. Everyone is excited to kick off the year.”

Jack’s Surfboards co-owner Jamal Abdelmuti said the event celebrates the talent of surfers in the community.

“This event not only showcases the skill and passion of the athletes, but also provides an opportunity for our community to come together and appreciate the beauty of the ocean,” he said.



With the contest drawing top talent from around the country – and even some international competitors – it was a chance for about a dozen of the athletes selected from the USA Surfing Junior National Team to gather on the sand to also prepare for next month’s ISA World Junior National Championships in El Salvador.

Coaches Ryan Simmons and Courtney Conlogue, who has decades of experience as one of the world’s best female surfers, ran drills in the surf and on the sand to prepare the youngsters for the competitions on the horizon.

“I wanted to make sure we all got together for team camaraderie, team cohesion,” Simmons said.

While the goal is to better USA Surfing’s silver medal from last year’s championships, and get surfers to the podium for individual medals, it’s also about having a great experience and supporting each other, Simmons said.

For Conlogue, who will join the commentary booth with fellow US Open of Surfing winner Brett Simpson during the Jack’s Surfboards Pro, it’s a chance to sharpen the surfers’ skills and see what needs fine tuning, she said.

“We have a lot of work to do, but I think we have a good team and they are ripping,” she said. Being able to share her experience as a top-level athlete is a dream, she said.

“I love sharing the knowledge, it’s fun to see what helps guide them to feel better and feel more confident – and be in a place knowing they belong,” Conlogue said.

Huntington Beach’s Sara Freyre, 17, will be heading to the ISA Junior World Championships for a third time – her last chance to get a medal in the event.  And the Huntington Beach High School surf team member will be also competing at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro, hoping to better her quarterfinal result from last year.

“I surf here every single day, so it’s super awesome to have a big contest here and feel comfortable and just have home-town advantage,” she said.

Also doing double duty in Huntington Beach and El Salvador for USA Surfing is Kai Kushner, one of the few South Bay surfers making waves on the competitive scene.

The 17-year-old is following in his father’s footsteps. Warren Kushner competed as a South African surfer in the ISA World Games and on the Qualifying Series circuit through the ’90s.

“It gives me goosebumps,” Warren Kushner said. “It’s every surfers’ dream to have their son follow in their footsteps. He’s far surpassed my ability.”

As Kai grew up, Kushner said he watched his son learn pivotal life lessons through surfing.

“It teaches you everything you need to know about life,”  Kushner said of surfing. “Hard work, dedication and never giving up. That speaks to all facets of life and being successful, from relationships, business to everything. He’s learning this through surfing, and competitive surfing, and he can apply it to everything else for the rest of his life.”

This will be Kai Kushner’s second ISA World Championships – two years ago he earned an eighth place.

“I love everyone coming together and surfing against each other,” he said. “It means a lot to be going there again. I’m stoked.”

But first, they’ll hit the waves in Huntington Beach the next few days to try and nab the Jack’s Surfboards Pro title.

Surfers will be tested in a variety of waves, with 2- to 3-footers forecasted for opening day by, before beefing up to 4- to 6-feet waves with wild winds on Friday. The swell is expected to drop through the weekend back to 2- to 3-footers.

For information on how to watch the competition live and online, go to

Source: Orange County Register

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