The kids have arrived at this year's Easterns. On the day when all adult competition culminates, it was the kids "showing everyone how it's done," as Chuck Berand mentioned to me.
Though no actual youth specific divisions got underway today, the main attraction on Wednesday was the start and completion of the Open Shortboard division—one of the most coveted at Easterns. With the surf having bumped down a notch and organized a bit more, there were some board-breaking grinders unloading off the Cape Hatteras groin.
From the older guard to the menehunes, the Open Shortboard division is a mixing of the best male surfers any age. And it was all out from the start—even the music on the beach seemed to bring things up a notch today.
Two-time defending Junior Men's champion Nick Rupp arrived cool as a cucumber today for someone looking to three-peat. He told me how he skipped firing S-Turns this morning to save energy for the entire day of surfing the Open division, anticipating he'd be surfing all day. You can tell the Southerner wants that coveted sweep in his last attempt at it (Junior Men's and Open Shortboard titles in the same year). Rupp's surfing was on-point from the moment he paddled out for his first free-surf of the morning.
In his semi-final heat he pig-dogged in and out of some of the best barrels of the afternoon and was putting his board as vertical as you can on your backhand. But it was Satellite Beach's Chris Tucker who just squeaked the semis victory away from Rupp by showing a bigger variety of carves, vertical snaps, and slicing wraps. In the other semi it was Melbourne Beach's Corey Howell and North Carolina's Shane Burn advancing to the final.
I told you the kids had arrived today, because this final did not include anyone older than the Junior Men's division. Shane Burn committed a costly error by taking a wave before the heat started, and had to make his way back out during a set as the horn sounded. He never really seemed to bounce back from this mistake.
Corey Howell was having a few timing issues and miscues with completing turns, and never really get that solid starter score. But upon completion of the final Corey paddled back out for a free-surf and was going big, having fixed whatever was the problem. Look for Corey to be a legit threat to Cam Richards' three-peat in the Boys' division.
Which brings us to the two performers of the final, Tucker and Rupp. Rupp was still searching for those barrels, and he even pulled into an incredibly deep one at one point, but it was nowhere near makeable. But he also exhibited why his backhand has won him so many Easterns titles off that very Cape Hatteras left, putting on an assorted showing of backhand money turns.
Tucker on the other hand was exhibiting his frontside attack on the lefts, racing past sections no regularfoot could and blasting some high-scoring turns. He was really starting to let the fins loose throughout the heat and capped it off with a clean air reverse.
But the ESA chooses to hold off on the announcement of the Open Shortboard winner until the end of the week, enticing those that were in the final to give it all they've got for the sweep—and those two would be Tucker and Rupp. Surely they'll have that possible victory in their minds as they square up to battle for the even more coveted Junior Men's title.—Ryan Brower
We'll have the full adult division results later tonight and continued full coverage from the 2010 ESA Easterns as the youth divisions unfold. Head to surfesa.org for even more info.