By JULIE JAG
Photos: (Jason Hall/Contributed/Kevin Johnson/Sentinel)
PLEASURE POINT — One common characteristic links most Santa Cruz surfers who have proven themselves noteworthy: a catchy nickname. Consider Darryl “Flea” Virostko, Shawn “Barney” Barron, Jason “Ratboy” Collins and Zach “Wormy” Wormhoudt, just to name a few.
Ben “Midas” Coffey might be the next to join their ranks.
This week, everything Santa Cruz High junior Coffey has touched has turned to gold. It started with him winning the prestigious 18-under Surfing America Prime invitation-only boys shortboard contest at Steamer Lane. Then, at the Santa Cruz Scholastic Surf League high school competition held Saturday at Pleasure Point, Coffey won not only the boys shortboard title, but also the boys longboard and coed bodyboard divisions.
“Longboard, shortboard, bodyboard, the kid’s got it all. Oh my gosh!” gushed announcer Austin Smith-Ford as Coffey was awarded the rare trifecta as the sun set over the Point. Those are strong kudos coming from Smith-Ford, who dominated the scholastic league as a Soquel High student when he won the shortboard title from 2003-05, and who still makes most of his living surfing in films and videos.
The only two divisions Coffey didn’t win in event No. 3 of five SCSSL contests were the girls divisions. Selah Bartlett, also of Santa Cruz High, took the girls shortboard final and Freesia Bauer of the combined Live Oak/Carmel team did a headstand to win the girls longboard final. In the head-to-head team competition, Santa Cruz defeated Aptos, 87-29; Santa Cruz Mountain defeated Soquel/Cypress, 67-54; and Half Moon Bay defeated Live Oak/Carmel 74-49.
In all, about 60 high school kids competed. A similar number is expected Sunday when the middle school contest is held at the Hook.
After advancing through a quarterfinal and semifinal, Coffey beat out five other finalists from around Santa Cruz County and Half Moon Bay in each division in conditions fellow Cardinals senior Michaela Alksne described as “epic”: warm and sunny with no wind and consistent 3- to 5-foot waves.
“I felt kind of good about it, but I was kind of surprised,” Coffey said of his hat trick.
The reason behind his surprise was that Coffey hasn’t bodyboarded or longboarded consistently since he was learning to surf. He said he has been dedicating his time to shortboard surfing — usually at Steamer Lane — and entered the other divisions mostly just so he could get more time in on the good waves.
But if Coffey was surprised by his success, he was among the few. While the awards ceremony held some suspense — Santa Cruz teammate Richie Schmidt took second in both the longboard and shortboard events — Coffey’s hot streak hasn’t come out of nowhere. Last year he won both the longboard and shortboard season titles.