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2015 Eastern Surfing Association SouthEast Regionals 

Courtesy: Eastern Surf Magazine

Those who came to Paradise Park in Melbourne, FL, the day before this year’s ESA Southeast Regionals kicked off might have thought the event hopeless. Ankle-high shorebreak was the only thing on the menu on Thursday, but, that all changed Friday morning when competitors and spectators arrived to see waist- to chest-high waves with some head-high sets groomed by southwest winds.

Standout local grom Rachel Presti took the Girls division by storm with blistering scores amassed on Saturday and Sunday — a 10 and a 9.7 in the semifinals and another 10 in the finals. “I’ve actually never scored a 9 in a contest before,” Presti said. “The waves were not like usual contest waves, they were way better. My first wave of the finals I scored a 5.17 and knew I could do better. After I got a 6 on my next wave I thought that was a little better but the other girls had 7s and one had an 8. When I got another 10 I knew I had a pretty good lead.” Presti held off the field and took home the win, earning an invite to ESA Easterns in Nags Head, NC, in September along with the other division winners. Presti also took the honor of Hot Wave for the Women’s and Girls divisions while North Central Florida ripper and Grandmasters runner-up Rod Logan earned it for the Men’s and Boys.

Austin Hollingshead and Nick Groshell also put on a clinic, each winning two divisions — Hollingshead in Junior Men’s Longboard and Open SUP and Groshell in GoPro Open Shortboard and Junior Men’s. Opening with a low 7 and an 8 in the finals, Hollingshead, surfing in his hometown, had his strategy in place. “I go into my heats just focusing on what I need to be doing and not on anyone else,” Hollingshead said. “I scored a 7-point something on my first wave and then an 8 on my second in the longboard heat. In the last five minutes, I scored a 7.5, but after I got those two scores I just try to separate myself from everybody else.”

Hollingshead is making a habit of winning, coming off a Open Longboard victory at the NSSA East Coast Championships. “It felt amazing coming from NSSA with an Open win there and then coming here and winning two more titles,” he said. “It felt great to keep that momentum going,” Hollingshead also received the ESA-CFL District All Waterman Award for his efforts.

Jacksonville Beach, FL shredder Nick Groshell did some dominating of his own at ESA Southeast Regionals, conquering both the GoPro Open Shortboard and Junior Men’s divisions, Groshell looked unstoppable over the weekend, taking out an in-form CJ Llano and Rod Logan in Open Shortboard and defeating Charlie Current, who earned a close 2nd-place finish in Junior Men’s.

After a 2nd-place finish in College Women’s at NSSA East Coast Championships, North Florida’s Kayla Durden took control of the Women’s final at ESA Southeast Regionals, looking to finish out the heat on top this time around. “I’ve been getting 2nd a lot lately, so I had that mindset of ‘I’m not losing again,’“ Durden said. “It was probably the best waves I’ve seen at a contest in a long time and it felt really good to get the lead early with my first two waves. I was sitting out a few yards from everybody else because I knew from my freesurfing that that’s where the best waves were coming.”

Durden and Groshell weren’t the only Duval County natives taking big wins. Sophie Falzone of Atlantic Beach, FL, ripped her way through the Junior Women’s field and into 1st-place. “The waves were really fun,” Falzone said. “I just really wanted to win. I sat out the back wanting to get the best waves out there, and it was just like Lowers. The waves would bowl up and you could find some really good sections to hit.” Falzone earned an 8 and a 7 by the halfway point of the final, and looking ahead, Falzone hopes to stay busy by competing in the Surfing America USA Championships, NSSA Nationals, and eventually ESA Easterns in September.

Other notable wins came from Gulf Coast surfer Michael Kapica in the Reflekt Polarized Men’s final, along with a great performance from Anna Maria Island’s Christian Daniels in Boys. Jacksonville Beach grom Kaleb Kirshenbaum took home top honors in Menehune while on the longboard side of things, Joshua Kistler earned 1st-place in Men’s and Savannah Pitard won Women’s. Notching another title under her belt, New Smyrna Beach native Lily Whatley styled her way to a Junior Women’s win. And Flagler Beach’s Ryan Conklin came out on top in Menehune Longboard.

Angela Ray took top honors in the Ladies division, while New York transplant Sandra Goodwin of Indialantic won Ladies Longboard. St. Augustine’s Sunny Stevens won Masters Longboard, while Flagler Beach’s Steve “Bubba” Tyson won his Masters Shortboard. After scoping out the sandbar for ESA Southeast Regionals, Melbourne Beach’s Steve Moldenhauer put on a truly legendary performance, winning both the Legends and Legends Longboard finals.

Brian Craig brought the goods with him from Juno Beach and won Senior Men’s, while Clever Surfboards shaper/owner and all-around ripper Jay Smith won Grandmasters. South Florida’s Tom Warnke, who’s been intimately involved with ESA, Surfrider, the Palm Beach Surf History Project, and other organizations, won Grandmasters, while in Bodyboard, Bob Chandler of Chandler Surf Custom Surfboards took home the Open win and Nicholas Ferry won Menehune. Finally, demonstrating their true grit, Zack Sjuggerud earned the Jr. Ironman award and Bill Austin won the Ironman.



1. Michael Kapica

2. Christian Gyland

3. Josh LaSalle

4. Brandon DeFlippo

5. Fisher Grant

6. Kieran Grant

WOMENS (18-29)

1. Kayla Durden

2. Haley Watson

3. Savanna Pitard

4. Salome Aberger

5. Hannah Forest

6. Nichole Golden


1. Nick Groshell

2. CJ Llano

3. Rodney Logan

4. Willey Gilreath

5. Noah Dovin

6. Jay Smith


1. Nick Groshell

2. Charlie Current

3. Patrick Conklin

4. CJ Garren

5. Billy Marshall

6. Michael Turdo


1. Sophie Falzone

2. Lily Whatley

3. Shealyn Cunningham

4. Madeline Seuli

5. Daylon Muenzer

6. Autumn Cockril

OPEN SUP (All Ages M/F)

1. Austin Hollingshead

2. Chase Modelski

3. Jason Latham

4. William Austin

5. Fisher Grant & Kieran Grant

BOYS (12-14)

1. Christian Daniels

2. Kelton Beardall

3. Noah Dovin

4. Jonathan Wallhauser

5. Chase Modelski

6. Blake Kantack

GIRLS (14 & under)

1. Rachel Presti

2. Braidyn Cunningham

3. Nicole Fulford

4. Eden Lange

5. Hannah Blevins

6. Isabella Perlmutter

MENEHUNE (11 & Under)

1. Kaleb Kirshenbaum

2. Ryan Huckabee

3. Evan Tyson

4. Sterling Makish

5. Braeden Kopec

6. Zekeriah Modelski


1. Joshua Kistler

2. Matthew Botts

3. William Pental

4. Fisher Grant

5. Kieran Grant

6. Colby Nickell


1. Savannah Pitard

2. Hannah Forrest

3. Emily Current


1. Austin Hollingshead

2. Clay Patton

3. Jack Havelka

4. Brandon Valverde

5. James Vermillion

6. Dylan Barrett


1. Lily Whatley

2. Hannah Blevins

3. Olivia Beaven

4. Isabella Perlmutter

5. Roo Stauder

6. Autumn Cockrill


1. Ryan Conklin

2. Johnathon Walhauser

3. Zack Sjuggerd

4. Gavin Silver

5. Thomas Sims

6. Riley McCormick

LADIES (30 & over)

1. Angela Ray

2. Debbie Walker

3. Shannon Reichel

4. Candice Griffor


1. Sunny Stevens

2. Joseph Ryan

3. James Walker

4. Jim Reynolds

5. Frank Gilday

6. William “Pfeiffer


1. Sandra Goodwin

2. Debbie Walker


1. Steve Moldenhauer

2. Jeff Majaika

3. Thomas Cook

4. Scott Stigle

5. William Austin

6. Jeff Clement

MASTERS (25-34)

1. Steve Tyson

2. Eric Worley

3. Michael Morrill

4. Edward Smith

5. Johnathon Henke

6. Pat Hall


1. Brian Craig

2. CJ Llano

3. Chuck Lanham

4. Darlan Lopes

5. Joseph Ryan

6. Shane Seufert

LEGENDS (55-64)

1. Steve Moldenhouer

2. William Austin

3. Larry Holmes

4. Kirk Oswell

5. Charlie Quick

6. Bill Hayes


1. Jay Smith

2. Rod Logan

3. Charlie Hajek

4. Frank Gilday

5. Phillip Harris

6. Thomas Cook

GRAND LEGENDS (65 & over)

1. Tom Warnke

2. George Alford

3. Bob Freeman

4. Gene Rutherford

5. Chum McCranels


1. Bob Chandler

Menehune Bodyboard (11 & under)

1. Nicholas Ferry

2. Zack Sjuggerud


Rachel Presti

Rodney Logan


Zack Sjuggerud


Bill Austin



2014 ESA Easterns® Surfing Championships presented by The Outer Banks Tourism Bureau and johnnie-O Final Results
Story courtesy of Eastern Surfing Magazine

September 24, 2014

The Eastern Surfing Association’s 2014 Easterns® Surfing Championships at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina concluded on Saturday with an exciting day of youth finals. The event showcased the best amateur surfers from the entire East Coast, including the Great Lakes and Alabama.
“The conditions were challenging all week with hard northeast winds, but the competitors really gave it their all,” said ESA Executive Director, Michelle Sommers. The event began with choppy conditions, but the wind lightened on Tuesday for the adult division finals. “The swell dropped a bit so the final heats were difficult for the competitors, especially with the high tide, but they all put forth an amazing effort,” says Sommers.
The winds picked up again for the remainder of the week-long event, but the competitors did not complain. “All the kids kept saying how much fun it was out there,” says Sommers. “While everyone hopes for clean conditions, it just wouldn’t be Easterns® without the harsh paddle outs and challenging waves that define East Coast surfing.”
A live webcast reached more than 20,000 viewers during the event, with all the archived video available at “It’s nice for our competitors to be able to review their specific heats from throughout the week,” says Sommers. “We have also posted photos of the competitors and other event happenings by official event photographer, Mickey McCarthy, on our ESA website and Facebook page. Mickey will also be posting to his Facebook page at Mickey McCarthy’s Surftown.
In Wednesday’s GoPro Open Shortboard Final, Boys competitor Micah Cantor took first, besting Kyle Busey, who finished second, with Charles Gussy finishing third and Boyd Brown in fourth. Jersey Standout Tom O’Brien grabbed first in the Open SUP Division, while Sterling Dean Foster took the Reflekt Polarized Men’s Division title, followed by Christian Gyland, Erik Kirby and Michael Foard.
Saturday’s Menehune Final saw Laird Myers claim first, followed by ESA All-Star Noah Dovin, Ryan Huckabee and Kyle Tester. All-Stars Gabe Morvil and Simon Hetrick took first and second place, respectively, in the Boys Final, with Micah Cantor and Boyd Brown rounding out third and fourth. Virginia Beach All-Star Parker Sawyer took the Junior Mens event, followed by Nick Groshell, Quentin Turko and Paul Francisco in second, third and fourth, respectively.
Central Florida’s Storm Portman led the Girls Division, with Braidyn Cunningham in second, Hannah Blevins in third and Molly Kirk in fourth. In Junior Women, All-Star Piper Austin took first place followed by Lily Whatley, Jillian Bontempo and All-Star Laney Brooks.
The waves were especially difficult for the youth Longboard Finals, with All-Star Nohea Futrell, Grey Copenhaver and All-Star Kat Neff claiming titles in the Menehune, Junior and Junior Womens Longboard divisions, respectively. Cody Hammer emerged Open Bodyboard Champion, while Evan Mungin did the same in the Menehune Bodyboard event.
The Youth Iron Man, Adult Iron Man and Iron Woman awards were presented to Nohea Futrell, Kai Dilling and ESA All-Star Georgia Cook, respectively. Gabe Morvil took the Hot Wave Award, with a 9.0 as the high-score of the event.
A complete list of all the results can be found at The ESA would like to thank Plak That and Schoppy’s for going out of their way to create unique youth and adult awards for finalists.
The ESA also wishes to give special thanks to The Outer Banks Tourism Bureau and johnnie-O, who came on as presenting sponsors of the 2014 Easterns®, along with a big thank you to the Town of Nags Head and Jennette’s Pier for once again hosting this spectacular event.
The ESA is proud to have had many other sponsors supporting the event, including Reflekt Polarized, Sick, GoPro, Sticky Bumps, Liquid Shredder, Chums, Rip Curl Wetsuits, Xcel Wetsuits, Sanuk, Athleta, Pepsi Bottling Company, Catch Surf, Surfer Magazine, Surfco Hawaii, Surf Nano Products, Media in Motion, Sharkinetics,, Barry Bags, Onymari and Lasting Image Promotional Products & Apparel.
Outer Banks businesses supporting the event included Jennette’s Pier, Sun Realty, Stan White Realty & Construction, Kitty Hawk Surf Company, Scotch Hall Preserve, Ocean Atlantic Event Rentals, Banxblock Sunscreen, Pamilico Jacks, Café Lachine, Waveriders Coffee & Deli, Tiki Tavz Beachin BBQ, TW’s Bait and Tackle and Hatteras Island Christian Fellowship, who generously stepped up to ensure a fantastic 2014 Easterns® event!
The ESA, which is in its 47th year, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit amateur athletic organization dedicated to the sport of amateur surfing. The organization promotes amateur competition for surfers of all ages and abilities, and is dedicated to the establishment and preservation of free access to a clean shoreline and ocean environment.

Eastern Surfing Association Adopts ISA Age Divisions

September 16, 2014

The Board of Directors of the Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) voted unanimously at their annual meeting in Nags Head, North Carolina to realign their age division structure to more closely align with International Surfing Association (ISA) standards. The move follows the ESA’s efforts to work more closely with Surfing America, the National Governing Body (NGB) of surfing in the United States.

“This is something young surfers and their parents have been asking for and will help the ESA integrate our program more closely with those of Surfing America and the ISA,” says ESA Executive Director Michelle Sommers. “It’s important that the ESA remains responsive to the needs of its competitors, and that the organization continues to evolve and grow to reflect changes in the larger world of competitive surfing.”

These changes will also help streamline the process of feeding ESA surfers into the Surfing America Prime East Series and the USA Championships, and also enable young surfers to “surf up” to other divisions to test their skills against older, more experienced competitors.

The new age division changes will go into effect for the start of the 2015 competition season in January but, because the 2015 ESA Regionals and Easterns® are based on last year’s competition season, the changes will not affect ESA post-season competition until 2016.

While the ESA youth divisions will almost directly match those of Surfing America and the ISA, the ESA’s adult surfing program will reflect our continued commitment to surfers of all ages.

“The ESA has always provided an outstanding and comprehensive program for its adult surfers and this will not change,” states Sommers. While the age breaks in several adult divisions will shift slightly to address current levels of participation and ISA ages, the ESA will continue to provide an expanded adult program. “We currently offer much more than other surfing organizations with regard to adult competitors and will absolutely continue to honor our commitment to that demographic. In fact, we’re hoping to see Surfing America and the ISA follow the ESA’s lead and expand their adult offerings.” Adds Sommers, “I think ESA alumni Kelly Slater proves the relevance and level of surfing older surfers are capable of these days.”

A complete listing of age division changes can be found on the ESA website at

The ESA, which is in its 47th year, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit amateur athletic organization dedicated to the sport of amateur surfing. The organization promotes amateur competition for surfers of all ages and abilities, and is dedicated to the establishment and preservation of free access to a clean shoreline and ocean environment.

Press Contact:
Michelle Sommers
Executive Director

Eastern Surfing Association

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