Team Steamer? 

The NSL hits Santa Cruz


For thousands around the globe, surfing has long been a lifestyle choice, a passion, and the backdrop to all things associated with the California high life. From the Beach Boys and Dick Dale's cult of the surf guitar to tiki culture and the long board aloha shirt, the individuality expressed through surfing is unparalleled. If ever there were an activity that didn't call out for a team sport, it would be surfing. But wait -- before you can say XFL, USFL, and the World Tennis League, here comes the National Surf League. Catching the Big One is now a team sport as well, at least for a few weeks this spring. The NSL, in the midst of its debut season, arrives in Santa Cruz on Friday for the Billabong Game Weekend. While determining the winners of the events is subjective -- there is no equivalent of a surfing touchdown -- the competition, featuring four teams from Santa Cruz, Ventura County, Orange County, and San Diego, still promises to be very spirited. Using the traditional four-quarter format, eight surfers from each team catch breaks during each quarter, and each squad is scored on its best two waves. There are three timeouts per team, per half. Team scores are combined for a final total.

The format for the game debuted at last year's X-Games competition and went over so well that its inventor, pro surfer Brad Gerlach, decided to put together a league. Each area features surfers from that region. In the case of Santa Cruz, it's popular board riders such as Adam Repogle, Shawn Peterson, and Jason Collins. The four-week regular season ends with the championship, aka the California Cup or the SALT Championship Game Weekend, which will be held June 4-6 at the hometown beach of the team leading at the end of the regular season. For more info, visit -- A.J. Hayes

SUN 5/16

Huff, Puff

Hit the Train

Hiking the Ohlone Wilderness Trail and Mission Peak area is fun, but foot racing through it is not for sissies. Sunday's Ohlone Wilderness 50K Trail Run is designed for the few, the proud, the fit -- and those who sign up before the May 14 deadline at ohlone50k. The point-to-point race covers parts of four East Bay regional parks, beginning at Mission Peak Regional Preserve at Stanford Avenue and Vinehill Terrace in Fremont at 8 a.m. First-place male and female runners win one-year passes to all East Bay parks, and all runners get a one-year Ohlone Wilderness pass plus a T-shirt and goody bag. Entry fee is $75, but hurry -- it closes at noon on Friday. -- Kelly Vance


Valley of the Hot Rods

Take a road trip this weekend for classic hot rods beneath the blazing valley sun. The Western Rod, Custom, and Street Machine Nationals , sanctioned by the Nostalgia Rod and Custom Association for American-built pre-1973 cars, takes place Friday through Sunday at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento. The event includes indoor and outdoor shows, a free BBQ Friday night, and an oldies rock concert by Paul Revere and the Raiders Saturday night. Entry fee for cars is $30 for NRCA members, $60 for nonmembers. Spectators: $15 at the gate. Visit for details. -- Kelly Vance


The Other Bowling

Looking for a sport that's reallllly relaxing? Tired of shuffleboard and quoits? Want to dude up in neatly pressed white linen trousers or pleated skirts with a jaunty white cap, and gambol on the green? You're in the right mood for lawn bowling, my friend. Motivate yourself over to the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club's Open House this Saturday (11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and try your hand at the game some people affectionately call "bocce ball for WASPs." The club's well-kept greens are located at 2270 Acton St. in Berkeley. For more info, call Ray Francis at 510-234-6646 or e-mail -- Kelly Vance


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