Surf conditions too good to calm competitors at Jimmy Miller Fiesta in Manhattan Beach

Team Keller: Mira Costa coach Tracey Keller, wife Katie, and the Meza sisters Teagan and London. Photo by Steve Gaffney (

by Kevin Cody

“If you’re here to win, this isn’t the contest for you,” Jeff Miller told the 120 surfers signed up for the 16th Annual Jimmy Surf Fiesta, held Saturday at 42nd Street in Manhattan Beach. 

But the event director’s caution notwithstanding, the two-to-four-foot windswell, glassy conditions and a pushing tide, presented an irresistible challenge to the contest’s two-dozen A-ranked surfers, each teamed with B, C, D and E surfers. 

Gallery 1. Photos by Steve Gaffney (

All that prevented the contest from becoming an early season showcase for the top surfers was the fact that team members were only scored on their single, best wave.

So after a high scoring wave, it was in the “A” surfers’ best interest to help their teammates score, though most of their teammates didn’t need help.

Many of the contestants, both male and female, were middle schoolers, intent on impressing Mira Costa surf coach Tracy Geller. Geller, too, may have wanted to make a statement. In addition to his wife Katie, and son Shane, his team included sisters London and Teagan Meza, two of the most promising young surfers of either sex in the South Bay. 

A large number of the other young surfers were also accomplished competitors, thanks to their experience as Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguards, and their participation in South Bay Boardrider contests. SBBC co-sponsored the contest with Fresh Brothers pizza, and provided the judges.

Jeff Miller’s instructions not to take the contest too seriously were evidently taken to heart by the other competitors, because his team won. His teammates included Anna Zimblast, Cole Saffell, Nate Goldberg, Luke Wilhelm and (alternates) Austin Miller and Gabe Volk.

The Jimmy is presented by the Jimmy Miller Foundation, which was founded in memory of Jeff Miller’s brother Jimmy Miller, a former lifeguard and founder of Camp Surf. Jimmy Miller passed away in 2004.

The foundation offers ocean therapy to the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, at Camp Pendleton; the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital; Veterans Village in San Diego and to at-risk youths.

Top performance awards

Spyder Surf Best Best Wave Award: Gio Horta
Nixon Best Maneuver: Kyle Brown
ET Surf Beach Lounger: Aaron Osten
Rip Curl Best Performance by a Female: Anna Zimblast
Electric Best Performance by a Male: Cole Saffell
El Gingo Best Wipeout: Shane Geller
Hurley Best Performance by a Boy Grommet: Saul Eliad
FireWire Best Performance by a Girl Grommet: Maggie Griffin
South Bay Board Co Best Performance by a Family: The Meza Family
Pure Surfing Experience Award: Pete, Patten, and Curren Gentry

For more information visit ER

Gallery 2 (below). Photos by Steve Gaffney (

Gallery 3. Photos by Steve Gaffney (

Gallery 4. Photos by Steve Gaffney (

Gallery 5. Photos by Kevin Cody




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