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ON THE EDGE: Surf kicks up for Second Beach contest

July 25, 2013

Photo Courtesy of Peter Pan

Sometimes things just fall into place.
This is the best way to describe what happened for the Eastern Surfing Association New England Summer Surfing Championships that ran this past Saturday at Second Beach in Middletown.
For the entire previous week, the surf was hopelessly flat and the surf zone at Second Beach was riddled with an odd form of sea life that resembled small, biting insects.
On the morning of the contest, the winds went strong onshore, kicking up a solid head high swell and blowing away all of the unwanted sea pests from the line-up.
This set the scene for one of the most competitive ESA events of the past decade.
“We had great surf…no incredible surf for a middle of the summer contest, “ said contest director Jeff Smith. “The level of surfing was as good as I have seen it in any of the major East Coast competitions.”
As the onshore winds increased, the swells jumped up accordingly.
By the end of the day, there were consistent overhead peaks pushing their way into the slamming beach break.
The main event was, as always, the Open Shortboard Division that featured 26 of the top New England surfers, along with some outstanding out-of-town talent battled it out in the high performance conditions.
The final heat showcased the best of the best, with aspiring professional ripper Zion Balbueno of Santa Domingo pulling off some super airs and tail slides to top returning ESA Junior talent, Kevin Tanner of Charlestown, R.I.
It was 6-Time East Coast Senior Women’s Champion and ESA All-Star Ana Barend of Little Compton, R.I. riding backside barrels into third place, while another ESA All-Star, Liam O’Regan, of Middletown, slashed his way to a fourth place in the final.
The ‘Young Guns’ ruled this contest with some explosive off-the-lips, air moves, and slamming cutbacks in both the Boys and Junior Men’s finals.
Liam O’Regan has the knack for finding the best waves of the contest, and did so as he dominated both the Junior Men’s shortboard and longboard finals.
There is new talent coming up fast in the Boy’s division, as 2013 ESA Regional finalist Gavin Smith of Block Island charged to another big win in a close contest over local Sean Dungan.
The crowd was entertained by the longboard contestants, especially Master’s champion Paul Bennett of Narragansett.
His dramatic fin-first 360 gave him the title over Kevin Tanner in one of the toughest heats of the day.
2012 East Coast Championships finalist and 2013 Northeast Regional champion Keating Artigian of Middletown displayed her winning form, as she styled her way through the choppy surf, topping Sara Prince for the title.
There were other outstanding performances including Cape Cod’s Rob Goodwin edging out Quinn Battaglier for the Menehune title.
Jeff Smith continued his winning streak, as he captured the Senior crown. Brayden Bennett won his first Open Bodyboard title with a series of clean “el rollos” in the shore pound. Sean Dungan capped a fine day in the water with the win in the Menehune Longboard final.
The next rated ESA event is the Ozone Classic, to be held at Cisco Beach on Nantucket Island on August 4th.

Peter Pan is a freelance columnist for Southern Rhode Island Newspapers.

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