Local Surfers Score at
2017 ESA Regional Championships
by Peter Pan
Local ESA competitors were treated to an array of surfing and weather conditions at the 2017 Eastern Surfing Association Northeast Regional Surf-Offs, held this past weekend in Belmar, New Jersey. While the surf was quiet in Narragansett, the Jersey shore was catching a solid south swell, which made for ideal conditions on Friday, the first day of competition. With air temperatures soaring into the high 90’s, and waist to chest high clean peelers, adult divisions were held without any fanfare.
There was a complete reversal on Saturday, as onshore winds up to 30 knots kicked up a vicious choppy swell that grew to head high and difficult to navigate. Rains and clouds made it feel like a bone chilling 30 degrees. The sun came out on Sunday, but the onshore winds continued to make things difficult for competitors.
Our local adult riders benefited the most, as they cruised into several finals on the first day of fun surf. Aurelien Bouch-Pillon won his first regional title, taking the Masters crown over another Narragansett rider, Chris Herbert. Jamie Kelly had another great showing, finishing 2nd in the Men’s Longboard and 3rd in the Men’s Shortboard Finals. Last year’s Ironman winner, Kevin Roy finished 3rd in the Senior Men and 4th in the Masters Longboard Finals.
In the elder categories, Peter Pan took 2nd in the Grand Legends Shortboard, and 5th in the Legends Longboard division.
The second day of the competition featured the competitive youth categories, and the very difficult winds, rain, and surf. Our team really had to battle both the waves and the judging, to advance to final berths. While Lily Gartner cruised in the semi-finals on the previous day, she found herself wedged between competitors in that last final heat. Beginning the heat with a great ride, she was sitting on 2nd place, before two others found solid faces to work. She finished 5th in the Girls Under 16 Final. Rebounding back two hour later, she found several nice backside sections to finish in 3rd place in the Junior Women’s Longboard Final.
In the Girls Under 14 Final, both Sophia Martino and Page Hedde handled the sloppy close-out surf with poise, advancing to the final, finishing 4th and 5th. Noah Gartner advanced to a very tough Menehune Longboard Final, finishing 5th. Our local contingent were disappointed with the low judges’ scores in regards to the efforts of Josh Hedde, who just missed the finals in the Junior Men’s category. Also surfing well but not advancing were Jayden Parry and Joe Doherty Jr. in the Junior Men’s categories.
It was apparent that the local riders in the contest had the distinct advantage of knowing where to be, and when to take off. The quirky sand bottom peaks shifted dramatically with the tides, and knowing where to go proved to make the difference between winning and losing.
In the specialty events, held in some challenging sloppy close-out surf on Sunday, Pat Redmond made his mark with some great drop-knees and 360’s, winning the Open Bodyboard crown for the first time at the regionals. Peter Pan paddle surfed his way to second place in the Open SUP Final, and finished 2nd again, in the Open Bodyboard Final. For his efforts, he was awarded the Adult Ironman Award for the contest.
All finalists at this event, were given invitations to compete at the 2017 Eastern Finals, to be held in mid-September at Nags Head, North Carolina. The next local contest is the New England Longboard Classic, to be held Nantasket Beach, in Hull, Massachusetts on June 11th.
Here are some photos of gansett locals Lily and Noah Gartner, photos by Lisa Gartner.