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ESA Northeast Regional Surf-Offs rock Rhode Island

Northeast Surf-Off © McGovern


2011 ESA Northeast Regional Surf-Offs

Eastern Surfing Association
Rhode Island, United States
30 April - 1 May 2011

Surf Gods Were Looking Out For 2011 ESA Northeast Regional Surf-Offs

Surfersvillage Global Surf News
, 3 May, 2011 : - - Running the Eastern Surfing Association regional championships has always been a hit or miss affair, ever since it was created in 1984. All the top competitors from the northeastern states show up on a designated weekend and pray that the surf is contestable. Since the food, hotels, judges and trophies have already been committed to, the contest must go down regardless of conditions. This has caused some headaches in the past, especially when the surf was non-existent.

ESA officials did not have to worry about anything at the 2011 ESA Northeast Regional Surf-Offs, held for the first time in over a decade, in Rhode Island. This past weekend offered big overhead “gnarl-burgers” on Friday, and perfect head high “peelers” on Saturday. The 200 participants from New Jersey to Maine and the Great Lakes were stoked to ride it, going back for more sessions after their heats were over.

The only complaints were from the unfortunate competitors who tried to paddle out against the current during waves of overhead sets that poured through from time to time. “I got one good wave,” said Claudio Paolino, and by the time I paddled back out through the sets, the heat was over.” You either took your chances getting out after riding a right hander, or you ran down the beach and paddled out off the protected cliffs of Second Beach.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said ESA South New England Co-Director Ron Belanger. “We lucked out with a major south swell that pumped some big stuff into Second Beach for two days. No one was disappointed in the surf.” There was no doubt that the conditions on the first day of the contest tested one’s stamina and paddling strength. Top finishers in this hotly contested competition qualified for the Eastern Finals, which will take place in late September in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Due to the excellent conditions the surfing levels were very high, and the wipeouts quite spectacular. Local surfers put on a great showing of their wave riding skills in all categories. The big surprise of the event was the performance of Boston’s Kitty Pechet, who became the first female to ever win a Grand Legends event at a major East Coast contest. Kitty edged out veteran Tom McClaren of New Jersey for the title, with a wild and foamy ride on the inside reform section of a “bomb” that came through near the end of the heat.

Block Island’s Jeff Smith turned out probably the best overall performance of the contest with an upset win in the hotly contested Senior Men’s Final. Smith took out ESA All-Stars Pat Emery and Chuck Barend with a big right hand barrel that covered him for several seconds before popping out onto the shoulder. “The sets were all over the place,” said Jeff after the victory. “I happened to be in the right spot at the right time. The current put me right in line with the biggest and best right peaks of the entire heat.”

Although current ESA champion Ana Barend of Little Compton had to withdraw due to a work related activity, our #2 Ladies competitor Melanie Kotalac picked up the slack. The Martha’s Vineyard veteran cruised to a solid win in the Ladies Final, taking out a field of New York and New Jersey riders. He daughter Mya styled her way to the win over Narragansett’s Courtney Sutherland in the Women’s Longboard final.

Both surfers scored in other events as well. Melanie made some big drops to finish 3rd in the Ladies Longboard final and Mya finished 5th in the Junior Women’s final.

Little Compton’s Chuck Barend found the biggest and nastiest barrel to tuck into, as he powered his way to a big win in the highly competitive Masters Longboard final, taking out New Jersey’s Chris Kretzer. In this heat, he also was awarded the adult “Hot Wave” award of the contest with a total score of 42.3 points.

Other locals who advanced into multiple divisional finals included Barend, who finished 3rd in the Senior Men’s final. Connecticut’s only competitor, Ron Belanger, finished 3rd in the Master Longboard final and 6th in the Senior Men’s division. Narragansett’s Peter Pan took a close second behind New York’s Ed Fawess in the Legends final, and finished 3rd in the Open Bodyboard final.

Narragansett’s Courtney Sutherland also scored in two finals, taking a 2nd in the Women’s Longboard final and 6th in the Junior Women’s final. Joe Booth of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, became the first South New England men’s competitor to advance to the final in several years. Booth picked off one outstanding left tube to  finish in 4th place in the contest.

Block Island’s Gavin Smith advanced to two finals in his first-ever regional championships. Smith took 4th in the Menehune final and 5th in the Menehune Bodyboard final.

Boston’s Pat Redmond gave current East Coast Champion John Heyman of New York a run for his money, but was edged out for the title in the Open Bodyboard final.  Fall River’s Jose Galvez finished 5th in the Senior Men’s final. Chance Hurley of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, advanced to a 4th place finish in the Open Bodyboard event. Cranston, Rhode Island’s Claudio Paolino finished 6th in the Grandmasters Final.

Special thanks go out to the local businesses and individuals that helped sponsor the event. These included Marie Fonseca from the Holiday Inn in Saunderstown, the Village Inn in Narragansett, Narragansett Surf and Skate, Manny Arruda from Liliana’s’s Restaurant in Saunderstown, Orbie’s in Wakefield, Ink Solutions in Providence, and Peter Glenn who designed the special contest teeshirts. The recreation departments of Narragansett, Middletown, and Newport all played pivotal roles in the event with special thanks going out to Barry Fontaine, Tim Shaw, and Erik Reis.

The next scheduled ESA rated competition will be the Annual New England Longboard Classic, on June 12th at Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts. There will be rated competition in all longboard age groups. ESA Massachusetts Competition Director Chick Frodigh is handling all entry fees. He can be reached by email at or by phone at 781-294-8941.  Entry fee is $25.00 in advance and includes the after contest party.  The first 75 entrants will also receive contest teeshirts.
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