ESA To Offer Priority in Select Divisions for 2019 Post-Season Championship Events


ESA All-Star Fergus Kelly competed in his first WSL QS event at the Florida Pro in January 2019 as an ESA-sponsored athlete. Photo: DUGAN

With the tremendous success of the ESA and WSL partnership, the ESA is pleased to announce that it will now offer four-man priority heats for selected divisions in its 2019 post-season championship events.

Beginning with its three regional surfing championships, the ESA will follow the WSL rules for priority in its Men’s, Women’s, Junior Men U18, Junior Women U18, Boys U16 and Girls U16 divisions.  Four-man priority will ONLY be run in the semi- and final heats of these divisions.

WSL & ESA judge Barry Pasonski focuses on the priority system for the heats at the recent WSL QS and Junior Pro events in Cocoa Beach.

“The ESA wants to be sure its competitors are well-prepared and have experience surfing with priority when they enter into the WSL QS and Junior Pro events that we are qualifying them for,” said Michelle Sommers, ESA’s executive director.

The current WSL Rule Book, along with an easy-to-understand summary that was put together by the WSL East Coast head priority judge David Portch and ESA’s competition director Joe Grottola, is now posted on the ESA website’s WSL webpage.

A short Q&A session with Portch will be available at each Regional event to allow competitors who are new to surfing priority heats to understand it better prior to their priority heats.

“We want to be sure that the ESA competitors who qualify to surf in future WSL events will have the knowledge and confidence to surf strategically among the next level of surfers that they will go up against,” said Portch.

Blayr Barton got his first taste of WSL competition at the Florida Pro in January 2019 as an ESA-sponsored athlete. He went on to excel through both the QS & Junior Pro events at the Cocoa Beach event in March 2019. Photo: WSL

“We have, and will continue, to work closely with the WSL throughout this entire process,” said Sommers.

Please visit the ESA’s WSL webpage for more information.

For additional inquiries, please email

ESA Partners with Rip Curl for the USA East Coast GromSearch Series

The Eastern Surfing Assocation (ESA) announced this week that it is working with Rip Curl to provide a pathway for its younger All-Star competitors to gain slots into its East Coast GromSearch Series events in 2019 – New Smyrna Beach and Nags Head.

ESA All-Star Summer Love surfing in the 2018 GromSearch Series event in Ventura, CA.

“Rip Curl has been a great supporter of the ESA All-Stars for many years,” said Michelle Sommers, ESA’s executive director.  “It makes sense to work with Rip Curl to offer our talented All-Star competitors these popular slots into their GromSearch Series.”

With continued excitement and momentum offered by the new partnership with the WSL, the ESA wanted to offer its younger All-Stars an opportunity to compete on an international level as well.

“Since we are now qualifying ESA competitors from the Mens, Womens, U18 and U16 divisions for the East Coast WSL QS and Jr Pro events, we wanted to give our U14 divisions something to work towards in to gain additional experience,” said Sommers.

ESA All-Star Carl Burger surfing in a 2018 Rip Curl GromSearch event. Photo credit: @williamgoldsmithphotography

According to the Rip Curl website, the worldwide GromSearch series is held for male and female surfers aged 16 years and under, commonly referred to as “groms”, with the aim of the GromSearch to nurture and recruit the next generation of surfers at a grassroots level.

“These events are in line with what the ESA has been offering for over 50 years,” adds Sommers.  “Rip Curl adds an international level to the competition so ESA competitiors may surf against kids from around the world.”

“Rip Curl is proud to support the ESA, and the ESA All-Stars, which perfectly aligns with Rip Curl’s belief in supporting the next generation of young surfers,” said Matt Myers, Rip Curl’s Team and Events Manager. “We hope to offer a stepping stone for young surfers looking to gain competition experience at a high level fitting between amateur events and the WSL Pro Junior competitions.”

Former GromSearch champions include current WSL World Tour stars; Gabriel MedinaOwen Wright, Jordy Smith, Matt Wilkinson, Kolohe Andino, Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons.

ESA All-Stars Sarah Abbott (L) and Abigail Remke (R) supported each other at last year’s Rip Curl GromSearch Series event in New Smyrna Beach.

To qualify for the Rip Curl-sponsored slots, competitors must be a 2019 ESA All-Star surfing in the U14 divisions at their respective ESA 2019 Regional Surfing Championship.

The top All-Stars to finish in the Boys U14 and Girls U14 divisions will be awarded a slot, provided they have been an active ESA member, competitor and volunteer throughout the 2018 and current 2019 seasons.

“We want our strong competitors to get into these events, but we also want to be sure that they are strong representatives of the ESA,” said Sommers.

For more information, contact Michelle Sommers at


ESA and WSL – Carving a Pathway for Champions

Blayr Barton is surfing into the next level of his surfing career via the WSL Ron Jon Quiksilver QS & Junior Pro events. Photo: WSL photo

Cocoa Beach, Florida – The Eastern Surfing Association was well represented at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Roxy WSL Qualifying Series and Junior Pro event this weekend during the annual Beach ‘N Boards Fest.

ESA-sponsored athletes, along with several ESA All-Stars and other ESA competitors, surfed against professional international talent throughout the four-day event.  The ESA has partnered with the WSL to create a direct pathway for east coast surfers to begin their pro surfing career path as they excel in the amateur level.
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ESA All-Stars’ Epic North Shore Team Trip

March 10, 2019 (Haleiwa, Hawaii) – The East Coast offered strong representation on the North Shore of Oahu as the Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) provided its All-Star team members a trip of a lifetime.  Twenty-three amateur surfers under the age of 18 surfed along the seven-mile-miracle and experienced the amazing Aloha spirit that makes Hawaii so special.

With boys coming the first week, and girls following for the second, ESA All-Star team coach Jason Motes, along with mentors, parents and professional surf coaches offered some of the best young surfers in the ESA an opportunity to learn from the best on world-class waves.
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ESA All-Star Ladies Charge Sunset, Surf With Slater, Perry and Beschen

The ESA All-Star ladies with Shane Beschen and Coach Jason Motes at Ehukai Beach Park. Photo: Terry Reis

The ESA All-Star ladies are making the most of their time on the North Shore this week by charging big waves and learning from elite professional surfers, including Shane Beschen, Tamayo Perry and 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater.

A massive NW swell arrived on the same day that the second group of ESA’s top female competitors, ages 11-17, flew in for their seven-day adventure.  After getting acclimated surfing the famous breaks on the West Side, and North Shore, the girls had their chance to paddle out with Tamayo Perry to surf Sunset.
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ESA All-Stars Go Diving with Kelly Slater in Hawaii

The ESA All-Star Team members had a truly memorable day on the North Shore during their team training trip.

11-time World Champion Kelly Slater, who was an ESA All-Star himself, took the team on a diving adventure at Sharks Cove.  Tommy Coleman, another stand-out east coast surfer, and former ESA competitor, joined Slater with the kids.

“This is something the kids will remember forever, and we are so thankful that Kelly offered his time to spend with the  ESA youth,” said Michelle Sommers, ESA’s executive director.

Local Hawaiian photographer/videographer Terry Reis was on hand to capture the experience in photos and video, including aerial footage.