It’s a bit early for Sam Pedlow’s annual winter visit.
Typically, this comes in January or February, depending on the training schedule. It comes with much social media fanfare (when it comes to Pedlow, most beach volleyball action comes with much social media fanfare). It comes with high level training, as he and partner Sam Schachter schedule a week or two against the best in the U.S.
But this is a different visit from the usual. Pedlow’s trip to Southern California at the end of November, stretching through the first week of December, is no training trip, but a final destination to cap a long and winding 2018 season.
He’s coming to see if he’s the world’s Top Gun.
p1440’s event in Huntington Beach, beginning Nov. 30, is a blend of two events. One is a 16-player King of the Beach-style format, coined “Top Gun” by p1440, hauling in the best players from around the world in an effort to see who is the world’s “Top Gun.” The other is a standard 24-team, modified pool play main draw, featuring the best of the rest, or “Young Guns.” Three courts will be dedicated to the Top Gun, the remaining five to the Young Guns.
Pedlow, at the moment, is the lone Top Gun representative from Canada, which has, as a program as a whole, enjoyed a breakout year in the beach world.
On the women’s side, Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes and Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkersonhave both, at one point, held the rank as the top team in the world. Bansley and Wilkerson are currently riding a three-tournament win streak, the most recent of which being a three-star victory in Chetumal, Mexico.
On the men’s end, Pedlow and Schachter were supplanted by countrymen Ben Saxton, a 2016 Olympian, and Grant O’Gorman as Canada’s top team, who are now sitting in the top 20 in the world.
It was a topsy-turvy year for Pedlow and Schachter, beginning with a ninth at the Fort Lauderdale Major, their eighth top-10 finish in a row, but ending in a two-and-barbeque loss in Vienna for their third 25th place finish of the season. It had its fair share of highlights, too, namely a fifth in a four-star in Itapema, Brazil, where it took eventual champs Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola to knock them out.
There was also a silver medal at a triple-point NORCECA in Boca Chica and another of the same color in Australia.
With one event to go, Pedlow is looking to add Top Gun to the 2018 resume.