Small wooden surf and bodyboards at a Zicatela Beach memorial bear the names of local surfers who have passed away, what surfer and surf writer Jake Tellkamp describes as “a stark and poignant reminder of how heavy this place is.”
Writing this week in Surfline magazine, Tellkamp said one name stands alone from the others on a white cross: Óscar Moncada. “One of Puerto Escondido’s greatest surfers ever, Óscar didn’t rule this lineup with sheer force as much as an omnipresent smile. That’s how he earned respect. That’s how he always seemed to get the wave of the day. When Óscar tragically passed away in a car accident in 2017, it shook the foundation of this world-renowned surf town.”
His death triggered the founding of a grassroots, specialty tuberiding event organized by Óscar’s uncle, Roger Ramírez. The Mex Pipe Warriors brings the community together every year to honor Óscar’s legacy.
This year, for the first time in the event’s history, four of the participating surfers were women: locals Maya Larippa Díaz and Flor Caram and visitors Bianca Valenti and Katie McConnell, all of whom competed against the men.
The contest ran October 22 and 23 during the last swell of an action-packed Southern Hemi season, Tellkamp reported. “Conditions weren’t ideal. The angle was too west, and the swell peaked at 5 feet at 18 seconds, translating to big closeouts with few corners. The fun format made up for the challenging surf. Everyone surfed twice, the order flipping for the second day of competition. Heats were 45 minutes long, only one wave counted per heat, and the top six surfers advanced to the final, their last wave counting toward their overall total.”
César Petroni was clearly the in-form surfer of the event, getting the event’s only perfect 10 from the judge’s tower. Jojo Roper of California was second while Puerto Escondido’s Christian Corzo was third.
Tellkamp said the spirit of the event was most felt during the awards presentation. People drank mezcalitos to celebrate life. Óscar’s family gathered on stage and shared memories that drew tears from even the most hardened locals. Little girls flocked around the female competitors for photos and autographs.
“Bianca really stepped it up,” said head judge Gary Linden. “She’s paid her dues out here; she took out her second heat against the men, and had she not gotten clipped at the end of her ride, she would’ve had the best wave of the entire contest.”
“In five years, I think we’re going to have a lot of chicas out there getting 10-point rides,” said Bianca.
With reports from Jake Tellkamp at Surfline