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Encinitas surfer Cody Steele does some tube riding at the Usher World Cup Challenge in Australia in January. Courtesy photo/Steele
Encinitas surfer Cody Steele does some tube riding at the Usher World Cup Challenge in Australia in January. Courtesy photo/Steele
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Encinitas surf club competes at Australia’s Usher Cup

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Boardriders Club, a local nonprofit club dedicated to surfing and surf culture, recently traveled to Australia to compete in an international surfing competition.

In January, clubs from the U.S., Bali, New Zealand, Hawaii and Japan flocked Down Under to Snapper Rocks, a famous surf break at Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, to battle it out against Australia’s top surfers for $100,000 in prizes, daps and clout at the fourth annual Usher Cup World Club Challenge.

The four-day surfing tournament featured a judging station running half the length of a football field, a skateboarding halfpipe demo, live music, food, and drinks.

The Encinitas Boardriders Club, including professional surfer and Encinitas native Cody Steele and local rising stars Jett Maughan, Kaydn Persidok and Caleb Crozier, represented North County San Diego at the four-day Usher Cup, which also featured 21 Australian and 10 international clubs.

According to Steele, the Usher Cup allowed the Encinitas club team to compete on a bigger platform with higher stakes. While the group was knocked out early in the international team competition, some team members had strong individual performances.

The Encinitas Boardriders Club team checks out the surf at this year's Usher Cup in Australia. Courtesy photo/Cody Steele
The Encinitas Boardriders Club team checks out the surf at this year’s Usher Cup in Australia. Courtesy photo/Cody Steele
The Encinitas Board Riders Club (from left to right) Kaydn Persidok, Cody Steele, Jett Maughan and Caleb Crozier. Courtesy photo/Cody Steele
The Encinitas Board Riders Club (from left to right) Kaydn Persidok, Cody Steele, Jett Maughan and Caleb Crozier. Courtesy photo/Cody Steele

“Our team didn’t advance out of the first heat because of some of the conditions and some other parameters, but we were still really excited to be there,” Steele told The Coast News. “(Crozier) did pretty well, making it through a couple of the individual heats.”

The West Coast Boardriders, a parent club, hosted the Usher Cup qualifying events, where clubs could earn a shot at competing in Australia. During the qualifiers, Encinitas beat three teams in its division, including boardrider clubs from Carlsbad, Oceanside, and La Jolla.

The top Southern California teams invited to the Usher Cup included Encinitas, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Santa Cruz, and San Clemente.

Individual riders, including high-profile surfers Joel Parkinson, Reef Hazelwood, Sebastion Zietz, Sheldon Simkus, Nathan Hedge and Ian Crane, competed for the tournament’s first two days, and team divisions were scheduled for the final two days.

Cody Steele surfs along the Gold Coast during the 4th annual Usher Cup in Australia. Courtesy photo/Cody Steele
Cody Steele surfs along the Gold Coast during the 4th annual Usher Cup in Australia. Courtesy photo/Cody Steele
An aerial view of Snapper Rock. Courtesy photo/Cody Steele
An aerial view of Snapper Rock. Courtesy photo/Cody Steele

For Steele, competing at the Usher Cup wasn’t about winning or proving surfing chops. Steele, an avid photographer working in real estate, brought his wife Aubri and their five children, a surfboard, camera and drone, taking time to enjoy his stay and snap a few aerial shots of Snapper Rock.

“It was kind of more about connecting with some old friends, seeing some new people, and re-establishing some relationships I already had,” Steele said. “Many old, world-title professionals were there organizing the event and taking part in it, which was really cool.”

The North Narrabeen Boardriders finished with 29.60 points to claim the Usher Cup World Club Challenge crown, edging out Snapper Rocks (27.99) by 1.61 points. San Clemente finished third with 21.30 points, and Le-Ba placed fourth with 12.27 points.

The complete final standings can be found at www.ushercup.com/finals-day-usher-cup-world-club-challenge-menand-womens/.

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