New England SUP Champs building momentum
ESA New England SUP Champs
Second Beach, Middletown Rhode Island
6 - 7 August 2011
3rd Annual ESA New England Standup Paddleboard Surfing Championships
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 August, 2011 : - - Second Beach in Middletown, Rhode Island was the site of the 3rd Annual Eastern Surfing Association’s New England Standup Paddleboard Surfing Championships, held this past weekend. Competitors were greeted with hot and humid weather, and a solid waist high onshore wind swell. Fortunately for the riders, the nasty red tide stayed away from the contest area, leaving surfers with tangle free conditions.
As the popularity of this relatively new ocean sport increases, so does the competition level, and this year was no exception. Contestants had their hands full trying to negotiate in the 15-knot choppy conditions and fast breaking left and right peaks.
The quality of riding increased in all divisions, none more evident that the Junior Open event. Last year’s runner-up, Liam O’Regan of Middletown, started out slowly, but picked off two well formed rights and worked them to the beach to edge out Ellis Kalaidjian of Newport, R.I. “I was a bit tired,” said Liam, after the final heat.
“I had just competed in a 3-mile sprint paddleboard race at 3rd Beach earlier today. I am glad that the conditions were not too difficult. It would have involved a lot of paddling and I was pretty beat.” O’Regan, who is the top ESA surfer in the area, finished a formidable 2nd in the paddle race that morning.
In the Women’s Open division, Carol Hesson of Savannah, Georgia made the trip to avenge her loss to last year’s champion, Chris Bonnichon. Bonnichon, out of Quincy, Massachusetts, started out strong, but fell off on two critical take-offs. It was evident to the judges that Hesson had greatly improved her standup riding in the past year. She nailed several lefts and rights and pulled off some nice cutbacks on both sides, to rack up the points. In the end, she had clearly taken the title with her two high point rides.
The Men’s Open featured two of last year’s winners going head to head. Both Rick Catallozzi and Peter Pan do their riding in Narragansett, Rhode Island and surf with each other often. Rick won the Master’s final last year and Pan took the Senior title. In this year’s final heat, Rick paddled to one side of the contest area and rode the lefts, while Pan paddled to the other side and looked for the right peaks to materialize.
Pan picked off two rights that held up into the inside, and allowed him to grab points off cutbacks and two switch-foots. Meanwhile, the lefts did not hold up as well for Rick, making it difficult to score with the shorter sections. When the final buzzer sounded, Pan had taken the overall title over Catallozzi. After the final heat, Rick showed everyone that he had been riding with only half of his five fins. “I really had to avoid hard turns today or I would have been sliding all over the place,” said Rick. “Big and hollow surf would have been a problem.”
Carol Hesson noted that things have changed drastically in one year. “Everyone is getting newer and more high tech equipment,” she said. Surf riding boards are getting shorter, wider, and more maneuverable. I have a paddleboard school in Tybee Island (Georgia), and half of my fleet are new 2011 models. Even the new paddles work better than the older models.”
The next ESA event is the Annual Summer Surfing Titles, scheduled to run on August 20th at Second Beach. This contest will benefit the Institute for Study of Non-Violence in Providence, Rhode Island. Entries will be taken on the beach from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM and all events will be ESA rated for the current season. Entry fee is $25.00. Trophies and prizes will be awarded. The contest is on call for Friday night, August 19th, after 6:00 PM. Call the ESA hotline at 401-789-1954.
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