September 27, 2018 – The Eastern Surfing Association held its 50th Easterns® Surfing Championships at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina last week. Adult surfers were greeted at the start of the week with some fun, smaller waves that rolled into perfectly peeling barrels for the youth finals.
Presented by The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and Surfer Dudes, the annual week-long event brings amateur surfers from all over the east coast, the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast of Florida to compete in their respective divisions in hopes of claiming an east coast Easterns® championship title.
“There is so much surfing talent along the east coast and The Easterns® is the main event where these surfers can showcase their abilities,” said ESA’s executive director Michelle Sommers. “It’s nice to offer a championship event along the east coast in a location like the Outer Banks where the waves are known to be ideal for elite surfers.”
Hurricane Florence could not keep the youth and adult competitors from making their way via alternate routes to Nags Head. The ESA delayed the start of the event due to the impacts from Hurricane Florence and mandatory evacuations that were in place for the Outer Banks.
ESA All-Star Blayr Barton from Virginia Beach claimed three east coast titles, including the coveted Open Shortboard Division. He also won the Boys U16 and U14, as well as the Youth
Ironman. Barton also took home the Hot Wave award for a score of 9.8 on one of his waves.
“My goals were to take home all three titles,” said Barton. “I’m stoked to have achieved my goals with the outcome I was going for. Thank you to the ESA for offering this event that pushes my surfing to levels that I want to succeed in as all of the competitors were great surfers.”
Taylor Greene from ESA’s North Gulf Florida district made three finals and left with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finish in Jr. Women U18, Girls U14 and Girls U16, respectively.
“I was stoked to surf awesome waves in three finals,” said Green. “The waves were really fun, and I was excited to come away with a win.”
The Menehune U12 was a nail-biter until the very end between ESA Jr. All-Star Braeden Kopec and North Florida’s Benji Lange. Kopec claimed the win with a high scoring wave in the final ten seconds of the heat.
Florida swept through the youth divisions with Central Florida’s Fergus Kelly who won the Junior Men U18 division and All-Star Jasmine Gailey claiming the Girls U16. Another All-Star, Sarah Abbott from ESA’s Palm Beach district, won the Girls U14 for the second time in a row.
“I am so stoked that the waves were really fun for my heats throughout the event,” said Kelly. “It was exciting to win the Junior Men U18 division as I went against some great surfers.”
The youth longboard divisions were fun to watch with wins going to ESA All-Star Nicholas Hutchins, Bree Labiak and Noah Avallone. Avallone won the Sportsmanship Award for helping a fellow competitor get to the beach after his leash broke during their preliminary heat. Hutchins may be one of the only male competitors from the state of Maine to win an Easterns® title.
The ESA All-Star team coach Jason Motes won his 20th & 21st east coast titles when he took first in both the Senior Men’s and Masters Longboard divisions. Central Florida claimed bragging rights when they won the All-Star Tag Team competition that was offered to benefit the team by having ESA districts compete.
“Watching kids competing against each other in the water, followed by cheering each other on from the beach is what really fires me up,” said Motes.
Todd Youngblood from Southern South Carolina proved age doesn’t matter. In addition to his 3rd place finish in Masters Longboard, Youngblood competed against surfers who were nearly 30 years his junior in the Open Shortboard final, coming 2nd.
The ESA offered a special viewing of Teton Gravity Research’s Andy Irons: Kissed By God for its competitors at Jennette’s Pier. The film is about the three-time surfing world champion who struggled with bipolar and substance addiction, resulting in his death.
“The film has a strong message for people of all ages and ESA members can relate as every surfer knows who Andy Irons was,” said Sommers.
Event sponsor Whalebone Surf Shop offered an Andy Irons autographed pair of sunglasses that was raffled off to benefit those affected by Hurricane Florence.
Sponsors also provided great prizes and giveaways for the competitors and spectators. Kala Brand Music provided a custom-made ukulele for the Open Shortboard winner, along with ukuleles for first place finalists throughout the event. Sharkbanz provided products for the Boys and Girls U14 finalists. Buddy by the Sea was on the beach with apparel for everyone. Unsinkable, OluKai, Chums and Surfco Hawaii offered prize packs and products for everyone.
Billy Rutledge from Hatteras Island Christian Fellowship (HICF)provided logistical support and snacks for competitors. HICF also raffled great prizes for the youth competitors each day.
Jamie Swim Art from Hawaii provided the much-loved event artwork that was used for the t-shirts and plaque awards.
Local restaurants sponsored food the event officials, volunteers and competitors, as well as offering discounts to competitors. Cafe Lachine (soon to be Johanna’s), Nags Head Pizza Company, Surfin’ Spoon, The Outer Banks Brewing Station, Carolina Brewery, Yellow Submarine, Dunkin Donuts, Cahoons Market and Pepsi.
“The 2018 Easterns® will go down in history as having some of the best weather and waves that the event has ever seen,” said Sommers.
Adds Motes, “This year goes down in my books as the best Easterns® ever!”
Full results are posted on The Easterns® webpage.
Special thanks to The Easterns® event sponsors:
- The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
- Surfer Dudes
- Jennette’s Pier
- Town of Nags Head
- Buddy by the Sea
- Beach Gladiator
- IndoJax Surf Charities
- GoGo Squeez Blast
- Sun Realty
- Whalebone Surf Shop
- The Spot
- Hatteras Island Christian Fellowship
- Space Coast of Florida
- Eastern Surf Magazine
- Jamie Swim Art
- Café Lachine
- Surfco Hawaii
- Teton Gravity Research
- Unsinkable Polarized
- Surfer Magazine
- Tara Mosely Graphics
- Shoots Media
- Sticky Bumps
- Savage Surfboards
- Rip Curl
- Anchor Scaffolding
- Kala Brand Music
- Carolina Brewery
- Nags Head Pizza
- Outer Banks Brewing Station
- The Yellow Submarine
- Dunkin Donuts
- Cahoon’s Market