The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Surf Club competed in the National Scholastic Surfing Association’s 2013 National Interscholastic College Championship that took place June 17 at Salt Creek in Dana Point, Calif.
Dr. Dylan McNamara, UNCW Surf Club coach, said there is no prescribed formula for success in a surfing championship.
“We try to spend a little bit of time in the gym and get fit, but as far as preparation goes, it basically comes down to surfing a whole bunch,” he said.
Having won the Eastern Championships in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., to advance, UNCW placed fifth overall. Club member Nick Rupp from Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., placed first overall in the individual men’s division.
This past year was somewhat of a rebuilding year for the team, Rupp said.
“We lost a lot of the team last year just because of graduation and everything,” Rupp said. “So we had to get a lot of new people, and for some of them it was their first time going out there. But, for such a new team, we did well.”
Despite the recent and necessary reconfiguring of the roster, UNCW has had a consistent track record that speaks to the school’s significance in a national context.
“We continued our run, that’s five years in a row of not placing outside the top five,” McNamara said.
Rupp, the second UNCW Surf Clubber and Ocean Isle native to win nationals, won by focusing on his routine. Consistency is a developing trend and central concept for the team.
“I stuck to doing the same thing all day and not doing anything too crazy,” he said. “It means a lot because it’s a national title. One of my good friends won it before, Michael Powell; I grew up surfing with him and looking up to him.”
Rupp’s win was made more impressive by the fact that he won doing strictly backhand surfing, meaning with his back to the wave. The spot where the contest was held is a point break with a left-breaking wave. Rupp is regular-footed, an indication of board stance, which means more power and control can generally be had when riding waves to the right.
McNamara is comfortable with the bar being set high and sees success as a momentum-builder.
“It goes to show that UNCW is one of the premier college destinations for surfer-athletes in the country. Nick was a sophomore and will be a junior this year and we have other strong team members,” he said. “We have a girl coming to the university who is one of the best amateur girl-surfers in her age group so I’m excited to have her on the team. We’re poised to do very well again next year,” McNamara said.