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“What the f#$k! How am I supposed to score that?”

The Young Guns Final

Jeremy Flores is sitting in a plastic chair planted into the sand, and he is confused. To his right is Mikey Wright. To his left, Ezekiel Lau, and out in front of him, Marco Mignot just did two big backside turns and one hell of a tail-high air reverse. It was the first official wave of the 2016 Quiksilver Young Guns final in Southern California and Jeremy, who is here to judge the #YGcombo side of the event, has no idea what to do with it.

The Young Guns Final

“An 8,” he says with very little certainty. “Or it could be a 9.” After some discussion with his peers, Jeremy decides on an 8.5 and is comforted by the knowledge that he can adjust the score later if he so pleases — the best part of events like this is that improvisation is not condemned, but condoned.

The Young Guns Final

The Young Guns Final

None of this feels like a typical surf contest. Black Sabbath is blaring through a small speaker that someone had stowed away in a backpack. A few of the kids are playing catch and/or pegging each other with a football while waiting to surf their next heat. Everyone is taking turns scaring the shit out of everyone else via a slyly positioned bullhorn, and the honorable Mikey Wright just offered to tack an additional point onto any of the competitor’s scores if they approach the two-pack of young women strutting down the beach.

So, really, it feels less like a surf contest and more like a surf trip with some friends. It’s just that the “friends” happen to be nine of the world’s best young surfers and one of them is going to leave here with a lot of money and lot more bragging rights.

The surfing today was enough to dismantle even the most drastic and delusional of egos. Airs as tweaked as they were tech. Rail turns far beyond the adolescent weight class. Combos, combos and combos within combos. And don’t you worry, you’ll see all the clips right here soon enough. We just have to crown a champion first.

The Young Guns Final

There’s another full day of competition tomorrow. Another day of madness in the water and mischief on the beach. After that, we’ll trim the field of nine down to four. A final will be surfed and a champion crowned.

We’re pretty sure Jeremy will know how to score Marco’s wave by then.

Posted in Events
Tagged in young guns