Station Bodega Bay Coast Guardsman wins surfing title

ALAMEDA, Calif. – A Coast Guardsman from Station Bodega Bay won the men’s military category during a surf competition at Point Mugu in Ventura County Aug. 22-23, 2009.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Merel finished first out of approximately 40 men’s military competitors that represented all five branches of the military: Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard. Three of the four finalists were from the Coast Guard.

The competition consisted of four rounds of 15-minute heats in which surfers could ride a maximum ten waves with the best three counting for an overall score. In the final round, surfers were allowed to ride 12 waves in a 20-minute period and again, only the best three waves were scored.

“This was my first competition in five years, so I made a concentrated effort to win. I am pretty excited,” said Merel.

“I try to surf three to five times a week depending on my work schedule, so I felt ready for this competition especially since I practice in some of the best surf in Northern California where there is more water, which equals more power,” said Merel.

Merel, 25, is currently a machinery technician in the Coast Guard. He has been in the Coast Guard for four years and has been at Station Bodega Bay for one year. As a machinery technician, Merel, is responsible for the upkeep and repair of the two 47-foot motor lifeboats at the station. He is also a qualified boat crewmember during Coast Guard operations.

My job in the Coast Guard has taught me to be more aware of my surroundings and more observant in watching out for people around me. I always surf with a buddy and make sure we are wearing the proper safety gear including wet suits, gloves and booties, explained Merel.

The Point Mugu Surf Contest is presented by Quicksilver and is held at the Naval Base Ventura County. The Saturday portion of the contest had approximately 3,500 spectators and the Sunday portion had approximately 5,700 spectators. There were six separate classes of competition including Longboard, Women’s Open, Body Board, Young Guns, Men’s Military and Men’s Open.

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