The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA)’s 2019 Easterns® Surfing Championship finished with epic surf conditions again this year at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina. Consistent 4-8 ft. plus waves provided by Hurricane Humberto allowed the youth divisions to show their determination and talents, as well as their strength.
Following the adult and Open divisions that ran the first part of the week, contest officials were forced to put the event on hold Wednesday and Thursday due to extremely high onshore winds with big surf.
“The call to go on hold was necessary for the safety and the ability for the officials to run a professional event,” said ESA’s executive director Michelle Sommers. “Our competition team had to rebuild the entire youth portion in order to fit three days of competition into two to be completed by the final day of the event’s holding period, which was Saturday. I am so proud of our entire team of ESA officials for seamlessly making the event a success.”
The clean, perfect waves on Saturday reinforced the decision to wait out the weather. Competitors and spectators were treated to ideal conditions to perform their best throughout the entire day, including all of the youth finals.
Florida’s Ethan Harbinson claimed two Easterns® titles in Boys U12 and U14.
“It’s such a good feeling after winning these titles,” said Harbinson following being chaired up the beach to the podium twice by his friends. “I haven’t stopped smiling.”
After winning the Junior Men U18 Shortboard on Tuesday, ESA All-Star Carl Burger also made it to the finals in Boy U14 and Boys U16, earning a second and fourth place, respectively.
For a second year in a row, Virginia’s Blayr Barton took top spots in both the Boys U16 and the Open Shortboard divisions. Barton gained ESA-sponsored slots into the WSL QS event in Barbados in November, and the next Pro Jr event offered along the East Coast in 2020.
ESA All-Star Kanoa Wong and Florida’s Kai DeLorenzo will also have an opportunity to represent the ESA at the upcoming Barbados event from their final standings in their divisions.
ESA All-Star Chase Lieder from New York won the Menehune Longboard U14, while Mason Mott from North Florida won the Junior Men Longboard.
ESA All-Stars Rachel Wilson and Callie Summerlin claimed top spots in the Junior Women U18 and Junior Women Longboard, respectively.
New Jersey’s Brynn Gallagher surfed her way into three finals, winning the Girls U12 with an exciting wave that also won her the event’s Hot Wave award with a 9.5. She then followed with a fifth in Girls U14 and a third place finish in Girls U16. Gallagher was awarded the Junior Iron Woman award for her results and scores.
“The 2019 Easterns® fun factor was off the charts,” said Gallagher. “Waves were pumping and all the girls were ripping. I loved hanging out and surfing with all my ESA friends all week.”
Competitors enjoyed the unexpected days off from competition by traveling south to surf with each other on Hatteras Island at the Lighthouse and in Frisco.
“Easterns® has always been about more than the contest,” adds Sommers. “Families come for the entire week to hang with friends from all over the East Coast, and make new friends. Creating memories is what the ESA has been about for over 52 years.”
The ESA provided a pizza and movie night at Jennette’s Pier on Wednesday for competitors and spectators. Lieber Films graciously offered a special viewing of their Bethany Hamilton’s “Unstoppable” movie, while Nags Head Pizza delivered tasty pizzas and salads. ESA All-Star Mia Gallagher won a Bethany Hamilton surfboard that was once a part of Bethany’s own quiver.
The devastation in Hattaras and Ocracoke from Hurricane Dorian was heavy on people’s minds throughout the week. ESA and its sponsors offered a raffle to raise funds for disaster relief. Prizes included Rip Curl and OluKai gift certificates, Sharkbanz products and a surfboard donated by Whalebone Surf Shop. $1395 was raised and will be going to the Outer Banks Community Foundation to support those affected.
“The ESA and Hatteras have a long history,” said Sommers. “It’s a special connection like no other as they have had a relationship for over 50 years. We wanted to do something to help our ESA Hatteras family.”
In an initiative to limit plastics on the beach, the ESA gave each competitor a water bottle and offered filling stations on the beach throughout each day.
“It’s important for us as surfers to be aware of the impact we have,” said Sommers. “This is a first of many initiatives that the ESA will be implementing to help protect the environment that we spend so much of our time in.”
The older youth divisions were awarded artwork by Jamie Swim and photos by Matt Lusk printed on plaques by Plak That Printing Company. Winners of the younger youth divisions were awarded trophies.
The ESA wants give special thanks to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, Jennette’s Pier and the Town of Nags Head for their continued support of the ESA’s championship and local events. Big thanks to Perry Creef, Dylan O’Donnell, Joe Grottola and Pam Hill for the additional work that was involved to get the event running again and completing within a timely manner.
“I am super grateful that the ESA was able to pull off such an awesome contest with all the crazy weather and waves,” added Gallagher.
Thanks to all of the national and local sponsors, competitors, family members, spectators and online viewers who made the ESA’s 2019 Easterns Surfing Championships a tremendous success!
Full results may be viewed on the Easterns webpage
Please be sure to support the ESA 2019 Easterns® event sponsors:
- Jennette’s Pier
- Town of Nags Head
- The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
- Surfer Dudes
- All Good Sunscreen
- Indo Jax Surf Charities
- Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism
- Sun Realty
- The Spot/Secret Spot Surf Shop
- Eastern Surf Magazine
- Rip Curl
- Sticky Bumps
- Tara Mosley Graphic Design
- Jamie Swim Art
- Matt Lusk Photography
- Johanna’s Cafe Lachine
- Hatteras Christian Island Fellowship
- Lieber Films
- Bethany Hamilton
- Nags Head Pizza Company
- Pepsi Bottling Ventures
- Yellow Submarine
- Cahoon’s Market
- Anchor Scaffolding & Ladder Company
- The Weather Channel
- NPI Productions
- John Ross Productions
- World Surf League
- Plak That Printing Company
- Harrington Graphics & Screenprinting
- Surfin’ Spoon
- Surfco Hawaii – Surf Smart
- Hank Sauce