The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) kicked off its championship season with its 2019 Southeast Regional Surfing Championship this past weekend at Paradise Beach Park in Melbourne Beach, Florida. Competitive surfers from Florida, Georgia and Alabama enjoyed sunny, warm weather with consistent small surf.
“Central Florida is a great location for our event each year as is always produces contestable surf for our competitors who have worked so hard to get here,” said Michelle Sommers, ESA’s executive director. “We were blessed this year with great weather throughout the entire event.”
While the smaller waves created challenging conditions for the adult divisions, the younger age divisions proved that there is a lot of talent rising in the south.
Southeast’s Senior Mens champion Jason Motes, ESA’s All-Star coach, worked hard all weekend supporting All-Star team members, as well as his own district.
“I was really stoked to see everyone’s performance level as a whole increase considerably this year,” said Motes. “These kids are really pushing each other while having fun at the same time.”
ESA All-Stars Carl Burger and Niyah Rosen claimed the Rip Curl sponsored slots for their GromSearch Series event in New Smyrna Beach for their finishes in the Boys/Girls U14.
“I was so stoked just to get to the finals at ESA’s Southeast Regionals, and win Boys U14 and Jr Men U18,” said Burger. “I’m proud to be a part of the ESA All-Stars and represent by receiving an invite to compete in the Rip Curl GromSearch event.”
ESA All-Stars were on a roll as Summer Love also claimed two titles – Girls U16 and Jr. Women U18. Braeden Kopec won Boys U16 and Maddie Franz took the win in Jr. Women Longboard.
Steve Moldenhauer used his home break to claim Southeast titles for both Grand Legends divisions in shortboard and longboard. Mya Snaidach was all smiles taking home her trophy for the Girls U14.
This was the first championship event where the U12 divisions split between Girls & Boys. Kylie Pulcini won the first Girls U12 title, and Ethan Harbinson won Boys U12. Since there has been a surge of young, female surfers, it was time to offer them their own division.
“It was fun to watch all the young girls compete against each other after all these years,” said Sommers. “One of our fastest growing divisions is the U12 so we are watching the future of the ESA.”
‘The Motes family is known for creating surfing champions as Josh Motes claimed the winning title for the Men’s division. Josh surfed his first heats with four-man priority that was introduced for the first time in ESA history in later rounds of several divisions.
“Surfing with priority adds an exciting new to dynamic to the competition,” said Josh Motes when asked about his final heat.
Two youth divisions were introduced to surfing priority as well. Jr. Men/Women U18 and Boys/Girls U16 displayed young surfers using smarter strategy and surfing for quality over quantity. It showed in their scores as there was a significant increase in score numbers and decrease in wave counts.
“We were so excited to run our first priority heats,” said Sommers. “Everyone really watched and learned what was going on so it was a great way to introduce to all ages to begin to understand.
The ESA brought back its fun All-Star Team Challenge by having districts compete against one another for bragging rights, and to support the team. Central Florida, North Florida, St. Augustine and North Central Florida created teams of four members to surf during a pizza luncheon offered to all competitors on the beach Saturday. North Florida squeezed past the others to claim victory.
Full event results can be found on the event webpage.
All-Good Sunscreen and Surfer Dudes were on the beach providing competitors and spectators sunscreen and demos. Carve Designs offered gift certificates for their beach-friendly apparel. Special thanks to Tyler Layton, Matt Beacham and Donald Cresitello for providing the amazing photos that were used for awards and printed by Plak That.
The excitement continues into this weekend as the ESA’s 2019 Mid-Atlantic Regional Surfing Championships runs May 3-5 at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina. Presented by The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and Surfer Dudes, the event will have a live webcast and daily recap videos for those who are unable to attend in person. Be sure to check out who will become the ESA’s Mid-Atlantic Champions to qualify for The Easterns®.