Surfing competitions have been held at the Narragansett Town Beach since the early 1960’s, in all types of conditions. But never before this past Saturday, have surfers paddled out in waves that big. Hurricane Epsilon, which had been hovering about in the Atlantic Ocean all week, finally moved closer to the New England coastline on the morning of the contest. While the surf was big all week, the size peaked out on Saturday morning, just in time for the competition.
Long time local Hall of Fame shaper and former ESA Champion, Dave Levy was surfing in Block Island that morning. “There were definitely some 10-foot sets coming through where we were riding,” he said. “Guys were dropping in on triple overhead peaks.” Levy is not one who is known to exaggerate wave size. If he says it was 10 feet on the island, it is safe to say that the same swells were hitting the town beach.
Spectators lined the seawall in awe, as they watched huge set waves break outside in front of the Coast Guard House Restaurant, and then reform into powerful close-out sections on the inside. It certainly was the ideal day for ESA officials to run the 2020 Northeast Titles, which had been postponed the week before because of flat surf.
“I give credit to the ESA competitors who paddled out,” said Competition Director Mario Frade, who directed the event. “If you played it right, the rip would pull you right out near the seawall. But if you tried to fight it, you got stuck in the current.”
That happened with several competitors who were unfamiliar with the town beach sand bars. During one heat, two riders tried to fight the current, and became lodged in the white water and the seawall. At that point, Senior Men’s Champion John Martino and his daughter, New England’s Junior Women’s Champion Sophia, paddled out and pulled them both out of the rip tide.
The dramatic rescue was cheered by the crowd, and for their efforts, both were awarded “The Outstanding Surfer of the Contest” award.
Needless to say, wipe-outs were the order of the day, as both spectators and competitors filled the beach parking lot and sea wall, watching the show. There were also some outstanding performances in the big waves.
Rowan Driscoll showed great wave selection, dropping into several double overhead peaks that held up just long enough to pull off some maneuvers before smashing into the shore break. In the closest contest of the event, the Open Shortboard, he traded big lefts with Sophia Martino, before pulling away on the last big right peak that held up as it reeled into the first beach pavilion. Rowan found two more monster right slides to win both the Open Shortboard and Boys finals.
In his first ESA contest held in big surf, Aiden Figliolini was outstanding. Competing in the Open Longboard Final against surfers of all ages, Aiden negotiated his board into two long lefts as the time was running out, and charged into the title. His one good overhead right was just enough to give him the win in the Menehune Boys Final.
Colin Walker finished with the highest score of the event, racing across a triple overhead right peak that gave him an easy win in the Master’s Final. Chris Synnott took the Junior Men’s title with a solid overhead left.
Without a doubt, the best wipe-out of the contest went to SUP winner, Chuck Mills, who was caught by a solid 10-foot set wave while paddling out into the line-up. There was no where to go but down, as the monster wave launched both Chuck, the board, and paddle into the beach. After retrieving his board, he managed to get back out and grabbed two good lefts to win the event. Finalists were awarded pairs of Hyperflex 5-finger gloves for their efforts, donated by the Narragansett Surf and Skate Surf Shop. The final event of the season is the Holiday Surfabout, scheduled for November 21st at the Narragansett Town Beach.
Final Results of the Northeast Surfing Championships, held in Hurricane Epsilon surf at the Narragansett Town Beach on October 24, 2020. MENEHUNE GIRLS-1.Malia Rosetta 2.Maggie Herbert. MENEHUNE BOYS-1.Aiden Figliolini 2.Rogue Lane. GIRLS-1.Summer Lukens 2.Maddy Hamel. BOYS-1.Rowan Driscoll. JUNIOR WOMEN-1.Sophia Martino 2.Page Hedde. JUNIOR MEN-1.Chris Synnott. MASTERS-1.Colin Walker. 2.Chris Herbert. SENIOR MEN-1.John Martino. GRAND LEGENDS-1.Peter Pan. OPEN SUP-1.Chuck Mills. OPEN LONGBOARD-1.Aiden Figliolini. 2.Chris Herbert 3.Summer Lukens 4.Malia Rosetta. OPEN SHORTBOARD-1.Rowan Driscoll.