Hot Holiday Nights Page 27

“Hey, Victoria.”

Whitney leaned into the tent.

“Hi, Whitney.” Victoria stepped outside the tent and stood on the sand next to Whitney. “Are you here to watch the competition today?”

“I am. Got the day off and everything. How have you been? I haven’t seen you around.”

“Oh, yes. I’ve been hanging out with Alex.”

Whitney cocked her head to the side. “And with Ben?”

“Well . . . yes. With him, too.”

Whitney shoved a shoulder into her. “Lucky you. You’ve really scored two winners there. Ben’s a little old for me, but oh is he ever hot.”

“I think so. And how about you and . . . Cade, is it?”

Whitney sported a sly smile. “Things are going well. He seems into me. I’m definitely into him.”

“I’m glad. You should be having some fun.”

“Oh, we’re doing that. I think I’m going to pull up a spot near the water with a few of my friends. Catch you later?”

“Absolutely. Nice to see you.”

“Aloha.” Whitney jogged off with a wave, and Victoria headed back into the tent.

The competition began, so she settled into watch. The waves looked big—overwhelmingly large compared to the guys aiming to master them.

Ben finally came back and took a seat next to her as Alex paddled his board out.

“Tell me how the scoring system works,” she said.

“The guys go out based on a priority system based on previous scores from other competitions. Alex has top priority so he can choose what wave to go after. Other guys can chose the same wave as well, as long as they don’t impede his run. Scoring-wise, each surfer will try to lock in their three highest scoring waves. The max they can score is ten points per wave.”

“So the highest they can score in each round—or heat, as you call it—is thirty points.”

Ben nodded. “Thirty points max per heat. Then those scores are added into the competition total. It’s all about a championship total. Whoever wins today will be on the leaderboard. It’s not like this is a final event. That won’t take place for a while. The competition continues in other countries.”

She nodded. “Got it. So what are the judges looking for?”

“Degree of difficulty, innovation, and the different variety of moves they make.”

“What are the types of moves the judges look for?”

“Speed, power, control of his board, where he is in the tube and how long he rides it. There are varying factors that go into scoring a ride and it takes years of expertise to become a judge. They know what they’re looking for, and they know, from varying degrees of difficulty, who’s mastered a wave and who’s blown it. So it’s critical for the surfers to not just get up on any wave and ride it.”

She blinked. “Wow. That’s a lot of work.”

He nodded. “It is. It’s more than just riding the wave. There’s so much finesse that goes into it.”

She leaned forward in her chair as Alex approached a wave, her heart in her throat.

Ben took her hand and squeezed.

“Relax. He’s got this.”

So it appeared, as he dropped down on what she thought was a huge wave, slid down over the top of it, then underneath that massive, rolling tube of water, much to the enthusiasm of the crowd. It was as if he owned that wave, riding it for what seemed like an eternity.

While Victoria was terrified, she could see Alex’s comfort level, the ease with which he mastered what she thought was a treacherous wave all the way through and out of it. He flipped his board out from under the wave, then back over the top of another, making her hold her breath. When he coasted to calm waters and wild applause and cheers from the crowd and a grin on his face, she knew he’d done well.

“He should score high on that ride,” Ben said, his gaze fixed on the scoreboard.

So was Alex’s as he sat on his board and grinned when he popped a ten for that ride.

“Perfect,” Ben said, nodding and smiling. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Victoria had never seen anything like it. It had been death defying and the most amazing ride she had ever seen.

She watched other surfers, trying to gauge what the judges would see, but she was no expert. Unless the wave collapsed over them or they crashed, they all looked amazing. But she had Ben telling her where some of them went wrong, or how they did well, so eventually she could see the subtle differences.

Alex went out for two other waves. One pinned him down and crimped over him.

“He’s okay. He’ll pull up on another,” Ben said.

Alex dropped down on top of another huge wave for a long ride in the tube, scoring a seven point nine.

“Great score for his second ride,” Ben said.

Victoria had no idea, so she’d take Ben’s word for it.

“It seems like many of them wait for just the right wave,” she said to Ben.

He nodded. “The right wave is everything.”

She watched the other surfers. Some did equally as well on their rides, some couldn’t seem to catch a decent wave.

When Alex took another, it seemed as high as the first one he’d ridden, though he wasn’t in the tube for as long a period of time. But he flipped an aerial on top of the wave to polish things off, which, to Victoria, had looked spectacular.

“That’s the way it’s done,” Ben said with a wide grin.

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