Daya McCart and Corey Howell win the Salick Surf Fest in Cocoa Beach
COCOA BEACH – Flocks of seagulls floated aimlessly around surfer Daya McCart and her competitors in the semifinals Monday morning, searching for a delicious Labor Day breakfast among the thousands of baitfish who had gathered near the shore at low tide.
“It really didn’t bother me. Well, maybe just the smell (of the fish),” she said with a smile.
In the early afternoon, the 14-year-old from Indialantic was smelling the cash, winning her first Cobian Sandals Women’s Pro shortboard event at the 37th Annual National Kidney Foundation Rich Salick Surf Fest at Westgate Resorts Cocoa Beach Pier.
It was worth a personal best salary of $1,200 and a 14-karat gold surfboard attached to a stainless steel necklace from Jesse’s Jewelers.
Trailing for most of the 25-minute finale in ankle-deep waves, it took one maneuver – called a “fin release”, part of the tail blow during a dynamic turn – with 2 minutes remaining to score a 5.90 and add to his 5.33 rating.
It was enough to compensate for runner-up Sofia Gamboa, third Kylie Pulcini and fourth Sienna Fleming.
“I thought it was going to be between me and Kylie, but it really didn’t turn out that way,” said McCart, a homeschooled eighth-grader and, like Pulcini, was recently selected as the only girl from Florida in the United States. National junior surf team.
Pulcini, who reached Sunday’s OBX Pro quarterfinals on North Carolina’s Outer Banks before returning to Cocoa Beach, had taken the lead early, only to see McCart’s late score, then saw himself impose a penalty for interference.
Next up for McCart, a Catalyst Surf Shop rider, is a spot in the popular Super Girl Surf Pro in mid-September in Oceanside, Calif., where World Championship Tour star Caroline Marks of Melbourne Beach is expected to compete.
To celebrate, McCart’s father Jayden said they would go to Pineapples restaurant in Melbourne’s Eau Gallie neighborhood, where owner Steve Young – who recently flew into space on a Blue Origin mission – became his latest sponsor.
On the men’s side, 26-year-old Corey Howell of Melbourne picked up his biggest victory in 10 years, winning the Ron Jon Men’s Pro, putting together scores of 8.50 and 7.10 to shake off Robbie McCormick of Flagler Beach ( 14.73), and win $1,600 and the coveted Necklace.
Howell’s 8.50 lap came “on one of the best waves of the entire heat” as he completed three turns on his back, and after seeing McCormick’s impressive air-reverse directly in front of hundreds of spectators, he also decided to up his game.
“It was epic, I’m thrilled,” said Howell, who since his last NKF win (also doubled as a Jr. Pro a decade ago) has finished college; was an intern for the Jacksonville Jaguars; and opened his own chiropractic business, Central Florida Health Clinic in Indian Harbor Beach, where he is known as “The Shred Doctor”.
“I used to sit in school a lot, and now I’m on my feet doing what I love,” he said. “It improves the whole atmosphere.”
Satellite Beach’s Logan Radd finished third to claim $900 and he also won the Luke Mackin Jr. Pro event — the top pro division in the NKF contest — after competing in the OBX Pro in North Carolina earlier in the weekend.
Saxon Wilson, 22, of Flagler Beach clocked 14.77 to pass Gavin Idone of Cocoa Beach (13.27) and win the men’s Pro Longboard title for the fifth straight year.
Kaylin Weinrich of Boca Raton won the Women’s Pro Longboard, beating Mackenzie Broughton of Cocoa Beach, who finished second.
Nearly $40,000 was raised for transplant patients at Sunday night’s Taste of Brevard and Silent Auction at the Cocoa Beach Counry Club.
“It’s been a good week,” said event co-organizer Phil Salick, whose team wore shirts featuring his twin brother, Rich, who died 10 years ago. “The waves were more than enough. We were never skunk!”
NKF Rich Salick Surf Fest Results
Male professional: 1. Corey Howell 15.60; 2. Robbie McCormick 14.73; 3. Logan Radd 12.24; 4. Gabe Griffin 7.50.
Female professional: 1. Daya McCart 11.23; 2. Sofia Gamboa 9.90; 3. Kylie Pulcini 7.00; 4. Siena Fleming 5.96.
Junior Pro: 1. Logan Radd 14.10; 2. Gabe Griffin 11.24; 3. Sebastian Peters 9.50; 4. Payton Lima 5.10.
Men’s Professional Longboard: 1. Wilson Saxon 14.77; 2. Gavin Idone 13.27; James Palazzetto 11:30 a.m.; 4. Sebastien Baker 9.64.
Longboard Pro Women: 1. Kaylin Weinrich 12.83; 2. Mackenzie Broughton 8.90; 3. Aubrey Rasmussen 5.70; 4.Madison Bennett 5.67.