My First Trip to the “King of the Peak”
Chemistry team rider Blake Jones is giving me the opportunity to go to one of the most famous skins events of all time, Quiksilver’s King of the Peak. Blake claims this event is the best event to be a part of as well as watch. I’m a little skeptical of this claim and I honestly don’t give Florida the respect it deserves a lot of times when it comes down to waves, so he put his money where his mouth is and is flying me over to prove it. I’m looking forward to a little Southern hospitality and the company of the Jones family.
Easily one of the toughest surfing contests on the entire Eastern Seaboard to win, the 15th Annual Quiksilver King Of The Peak returns to Sebastian Inlet, FL, with a waiting period stretching from November 7th to November 15th. Year after year, KOP Contest Director Matt Kechele fills 92 heat slots, drawing several touted international pros away from their respective November preoccupations to challenge Floridas best in an idyllic playing field.
The history of past KOPs reads nicely, with ASP World Champions, former WCT notables, and freesurfing savants sprinkled into the mix of local legends and top East Coast pros. But one must also consider all the underground talents that have gained notoriety here amongst the Sebastian hierarchy. Originally conceptualized in 1995 by Kelly Slater, who wanted to institute a homegrown event at the place where he first started pushing performance barriers, the inaugural King Of The Peak doubled as a fundraiser to bring attention to the potential closing of Slaters alma mater, Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School.
Today, the King Of The Peak remains the nations most popular skins event. The unique format is both equitable and fair, leveling the playing field as all entrants names are thrown into a hat and then randomly selected. This produces eclectic match-ups throughout the draw, and on the second day of competition, the drawn names are then flipped upside down, shuffling the field and allowing each competitor a second chance at redemption and the prize purse, typically $250 a skin. To add to the drama, a surfer must determine what he feels will be his best wave in each heat by holding his hands up after the completion of the scoring ride, making a Ã¢â‚¬Å“claim.Ã¢â‚¬Â At that point, the surfer must then exit the water, and his score is called out to give his fellow competitors an idea of what they need to post to earn a fistful of dollars and advancement into the next bracket.
The highest scorer in each heat can then rest up during the following 20-minute heat before heading back into battle, making the KOP a test of endurance as well as performance. Quiksilver has applied this same format to its King Of The Groms events, as Kechele affirms that this raises the level of action. With each surfer being scored on his single best wave, his opponents are forced to take greater risks and go for broke. Look for many former Kings to return to Sebastian Inlet this weekend, as well as the new lions stepping into the arena, all looking to add their names to the illustrious list of KOP royalty!