The famed ESA Easterns sweep has the major potential to be alive and well this year. It's been since 2007 when Rob Kelly came and stole both the Junior Men's and Open Shortboard divisions. But after yesterday's Open Shortboard final it's apparent that that title will be going to either Nick Rupp or Chris Tucker, both of whom are two of the favorites for the Junior Men's title as well.
That Junior Men's division got kicking today and ended up deciding all the quarterfinalists. And no surprise, Tucker and Rupp were the top two performers of the day, garnering the top two waves (9.43 and 8.67, respectively) and the top two heat totals as well (17.93 and 15.80, respectively). It's obvious that these two are vying hard to resurrect the sweep.
Nick Rupp could be the poster boy for the ESA. He's got more ESA titles than you can count on hands, sets an example for all competitors in and out of the water, is the captain of the Allstar team, and is just a good ol' southern boy. He's the two-time defending Junior Men's champ and this being his last year he certainly wants to add that elusive sweep to his treasure chest (not to mention three-peating to end his ESA career).
As I mentioned yesterday, he skipped firing S-turns to save his energy for the all-Wednesday heats of the Open division. The North Carolinian has a backhand repertoire that fits perfectly with the lefts that run off the Cape Hatteras groin, and today was no different. After grabbing his jersey for his round of 24 heat he strolled over to me and held up the red rashguard as I noticed his red boardies, "I hate when that happens," he snickered. Obviously he takes things as they come.
He proceeded to decimate everything that came his way, making things look incredibly easy. He's been coming to Hatteras and putting up big for years, so it's almost become natural for him here. We paddled out north of the groin together after his heat and he told me how in the first five weeks of this school year he's been there for one-and-a-half of them, "I was at the ECSCs, then the Unsound Pro and Pro Junior, then almost did the Belmar Pro last week but decided to come back down here." Nick Rupp is an East Coast contest machine.
He also gave me his thoughts on yesterday's final, modestly saying he thinks Tucker took the title. But since they don't announce the victor until all competition is finished he's staying positive about it.
Tomorrow at 7 a.m. sharp the Junior Men's quarters will begin and the possibility of the sweep's return will be steps closer. Oh, and we'll have a little rundown with the other possible sweep go-getter Chris Tucker for tomorrow's wrap-up.—Ryan Brower
Head to surfesa.org for more info on the 2010 Easterns.