The 44th Annual ESA Easterns Are Underway
After torrential rain and gale force winds forced postponement Sunday—the ESA Easterns got started this morning in wild but contestable overhead chunks at the recently revamped Jeannette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina, to the relief of competitors and contest directors that thought this event would never happen.
The day before leaving my hometown of St. Augustine, Florida, I attended an “Easterns practice surf” for two-dozen local groms that all gathered to run mock heats and surf with their hero—past Easterns champ Gabe Kling.
According to Gabe, “the Easterns were my favorite event of the year growing up. A bunch of friends would get together and we’d rent a big house in the Outer Banks, and it seemed like the waves were good every time. A couple of years Slater showed up, and as groms we’d just lose it, surfing with him. No matter what, win or lose, I really enjoyed Hatteras. It’s cool to watch this next generation of kids getting just as excited”
Today, these young kids feel the same way surfing with Gabe as Gabe did Slater, so when he gives advice they are all ears.
Said up and coming Oldest City Menehune Evan Brownell, “Gabe rips. And he’s such a cool guy. Surfing with him helps me a lot. I’m really happy the contest is happening.”
Will Gabe’s advice help Evan at this event? We’ll find out Wednesday, when the Youth divisions kick off. Today it was all about the Adults, and in the rough surf they were taking some serious poundings. In fact, the contest was called off mid afternoon after a few women’s competitors were sucked into the pier. Fortunately all involved came out unscathed.
According to ESA North/Central Florida director Ryan Marks, no matter the conditions it’s great to see the contest up and running.
“Big props go out to Dare County and all of the officials, it’s important that the ESA has an economic influence on the Outer Banks, and since it wasn’t possible to run in Hatteras at least we were able to pull it together and run here in town. It’s hard to please everyone, and there was some thought of postponing until we could run at the original location, but what if another Hurricane had rolled through? It’s really important that we run this contest, and great to see it happening. Plus, we are getting a good swell and with the Outer Banks pro going on here this week the kids will be exposed to some great talent.”
With plenty of swell and light winds in the forecast—things are finally coming to together nicely for the Easterns after a month of adversity. –Zander Morton