Florida surfer wins USA Prime contest months after shark attack
Four months after lying on a cot in the Holmes Regional Medical Center emergency room, Logan Radd scored, you could say, the second-biggest victory of his life Sunday.
The 13-year-old Satellite Beach surfer captured top honors in the 2020 opener of the Toyota USA Surfing Prime series at Sebastian Inlet, winning his under-14 division, in the eventual Olympic qualifying event that attracts the top young amateurs from the East Coast.
Radd, an outstanding young surfer who was bitten twice on his left heel by what was believed to be a black tip shark back in September and needed 19 stitches, considers this his most coveted trophy.
"To be honest, I'd have to say yes, especially after getting bit by a shark," said Radd, before checking out the surf conditions at noon Monday.
Physically, and psychologically, the seventh grade home-schooled student has recovered, and in a big way.
"When I first got back in the water, it felt kind of weird," Radd said. "Now, if I see a shark, I get a little spooked, but I think anyone would."
Physically, he's fine, although he was sidelined three weeks after splitting his stitches trying to surf just days after getting bit. He still managed to win one of the divisions at the National Kidney Foundation contest in Cocoa Beach.
"Lucky it was (just) his heel," said Gordon Lawson, the head judge at last weekend's contest. "He got nipped, but all of us have been bitten by a shark at some point."
Sunday, on his first wave of the day in the quarterfinals, Radd posted an 8.67 ride, the highest in his division, after two big turns and a little air while riding a new surfboard shaped by Bruce Regan at Quiet Flight. From there, he dominated.
"That was a major win for him," Lawson said. "This was the best amateur contest we've had in years, especially in his division."
"i knew he had a chance," said Radd's mom, Jennifer, a teacher of 3- and 4-year-olds at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Indialantic. "But the level of surfing is so high now. Just the camaraderie on the beach is amazing. They're all just as good as each other. Any of them could have been up there (getting the trophy)."
Radd has received plenty of support from fellow surfers Kepa Mendia and Carl Burger, and from his good friend, Coby Tomlin.
A week ago, Radd won the O'Neill East Coast Grom Tour's first stop of 2020 at Paradise Beach in Melbourne.
"Just in the past year, he has put on 20 pounds and has grown 4 inches," his mom said. "You can see the power in his surfing."
Radd's older brother, Bailey, and his dad, Steve, a Brevard County fireman, also are seasoned surfers, but longtime pro John Holeman has been his coach for two years.
"He's already an up-and-coming amateur star," Holeman said. "Everyone knows who Logan is. At any beach, if he's surfing, you'll see photographers. He's got a lot of natural talent and he listens well, and that's a requirement on a regular basis."
The weekend competition attracted more than 80 of the best junior surfers from New York to Florida, battling it out for East Coast titles and qualification into the Toyota USA Surfing Championships at Lower Trestles in California, in June.
Palm City's Zoe Benedetto, a 14-year-old Ron Jon team rider whose 8.5 ride was the highest score among girls, won both the Girls U18 and U16 titles.
Fellow Ron Jon rider William Hedleston of Cocoa Beach had the highest wave score of the event, a 9.23 ride, to win the Boys U18 title.
Owen Moss of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, used a three-turn combo at the buzzer to clinch the Boys U16 crown.
Next up for Radd is the second of four USA Prime events in New Smyrna Beach, a 10-day spring break to Puerto Rico, and events in North Carolina and New Jersey.
So, how did Radd and his family celebrate after Sunday's victory?
"We told him we could go anywhere," his mom said. "But he picked the (restaurant) at the Sebastian Beach Inlet and ordered the double cheeseburger."
"It was good," Radd said.
This time, fortunately, he was the one taking the much more delicious bite.
This story originally published to floridatoday.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network