Sam Hammer won the Unsound Pro in Long Beach, New York, in 2007. At that time, there was an unofficial race for who could offer the biggest check to the winner of an East Coast contest. Earlier that year, O'Neill awarded CJ Hobgood $10,000 for taking the Sebastian Inlet Pro. To get one up, Unsound handed Hammer, of Lavallette, New Jersey, a check for $11,500.
That was a lot of money at the time. It still is. Hammer's old truck had been failing and he was putting the dough toward a new one. But things have changed in pro surfing. The winner of the Quiksilver Pro New York this September will take home $300,000.
And it's a long shot, but it could be Sam Hammer.
The selected competitors for the Quiksilver Pro New York trials, presented by Unsound and supported by Vitamin Water, to be held September 1-3, have been announced and Hammer made the list.
"I guess I better start really training," he said this morning. That's going to be tough, in between running his surf camp and bartending full time at the Crab's Claw Inn.
I'm not saying it was a real mystery to crack, but I did call most of the trialists earlier this month in an article previewing the Empire State Championships, which was the trial, only open to New York surfers, for the Unsound Trials. Leif Engstrom won that last week and will occupy another of the sixteen slots. TJ Gumiela, a Long Beach local, took second. He does not have an official spot, but that could become significant if Bobby Martinez decides to pursue an amatuer boxing career. Keanu Asing, who won the Unsound Junior Pro in May was the other guy who was already in.
Fisher Heverly, who recently took second at the Reef Sweetwater Pro in North Carolina, is Quiksilver's only other East Coast team rider. I had mentioned Hammer and Florida's Jeremy Johnston as candidates, as they have both won the Unsound -- Johnson in both 2008 and 2009. And of course, Hawaiian Ian Gentile, rides for Vitamin Water.
Clay Marzo, Masatoshi Ohno, Aritz Aranburu, Craig Anderson, Alain Riou, Garret Parks, and Tyler Newton are Quik riders. Marc Lacomare is supported by DC, which is owned by Quik.
There are two very interesting picks here -- one East Coaster and one bi-coaster. Asher Nolan is from Florida and is one of the most dangerous guys on the East Coast. Injuries always nagged his competitive career and today, he surfs and works for Hurley's marketing department. But I have seen that man crush a section like Occy. Nolan had the opportunity to surf one other World Tour event and was dashed by Slater in round one.
"I'm excited to see my name in the trials with so many great surfers. I'm also stoked to go back up to a spot like Long Beach, where I've done well in the past," said Nolan.
Ryan Carlson is a gangly aerial master who moved from Huntington Beach, CA to Long Beach, New York for a time (a very interesting story in itself) and it has become his adoptive home.
So, who isn't on the list? Well, there is some other Northeast talent that is probably a little chaffed this morning. Also, it was announced that Balaram Stack, recently featured in Rolling Stone, will get a wildcard to the main event. This would put him in a round one heat likely with Slater, Jordy Smith, or Joel Parkinson. You ready kid?
The second wildcard has yet to be announced. For those who might feel like their big chance has passed them by, remember that Quik has signed a three-year deal in NYC. The Quiksilver Pro will take place from September 4-15 in Long Beach.
Quiksilver Pro Trials presented by Unsound competitors
Craig Anderson (Australia)
Masatoshi Ohno (Japan)
Garrett Parks (Australia)
Clay Marzo (Hawaii)
Fisher Heaverly (USA)
Tyler Newton (Hawaii)
Marc Lacomare (Europe)
Alain Riou (Europe)
Aritz Aranburu (Europe)
Leif Engstrom (USA)
Ryan Carlson (USA)
Sam Hammer (USA)
Asher Nolan (USA)
Jeremy Johnston (USA)
Keanu Asing (Hawaii)
Ian Gentile (Hawaii)