52nd Mid-Winter Championships

The surf was huge for the 52nd Mid-Winter Championships.


Contributing Writer

It was only fitting that after a three-week waiting period, the oldest running winter surfing contest in the world would get snow and big surf. Two inches of snow brought on by a huge ocean storm system created some of the biggest waves of the entire winter, and Mary’s Bar at Matunuck was about as good as it gets. “This is definitely the biggest and cleanest surf we have ever had for a New England surfing contest,” said ESA Competition Director, Mario Frade. “We are going back to the late 1960’s, and I still can’t recall conditions this good. We were hoping for 3-4 footers, and we got 8-10 footers instead.”

Thanks to the generosity of Kevin Finnegan and Allen Santucci of the Ocean Mist Bar and Grill, ESA officials set up the judging stand on the deck, and contestants and observers got to eat, drink, and watch the contest. 

The great surf also brought with it, icy cold winter water temperatures in the mid-30’s, blistering offshore winds, and head numbing and shock cord tearing wipe-outs. Paddling out and back into the beach proved to be a tricky job, as the powerful head high swells made the shore break a hard pounding close-out.

Surprisingly, the contest area was almost empty for the duration of the event, due to the heavy and big shifting swells, and long paddles out.

The main event was the Open Shortboard Final, which featured some outstanding barrels and deep and hollow sections. It was a field day for goofy-footers, as the left handers offered no mercy to back side riders who miscalculated some of the larger, sectioning waves.

Former East Coast Championship finalist, URI graduate, and one of New England’s greatest surfers, Jaime Kelly of Boston, showed his keen knowledge of Mary’s Bar. He patiently sat through several huge sets, and then took off on probably the longest and best sectioning overhead wall of the day. His effort gave him almost perfect 9 scores on every judge’s sheet, and wrapped up the title.

2nd place  short board finisher Ron Belanger returned the favor in the Open Longboard Final, getting tucked into a double overhead section and popping out into a long inside, workable section. Kelly rallied on his last wave, but could not overtake Ron as the horn blew.

Big respect goes to Westerly’s Sophia Martino, the only female surfer to paddle out that day in the huge and sometimes unruly conditions.  She charged some big set waves, despite getting caught inside on some heavy close-outs. 

All finalists were awarded with a set of Hyperflex 6mm Oven Mitts and a pair of Wet Sox, thanks to area representatives Conrad Ferla and Chris Herbert. The next ESA contest is scheduled for Second Beach in Middletown on April 11th.

Final Results of the 2020 52nd Annual New England Mid-Winter Surfing Championships, held in solid 8-10 foot surf at Mary’s Bar, Matunuck, Rhode Island on March 7th, 2020.  Menehune-1. Tiago Freitas   Junior Men-1.Chris Synott   Junior Women-1.Sophia Martino   Men-1.Jamie Kelly  2.Jude Capachietti  3.Ian Lucht   Masters-1.Conrad Ferla  2.Aurelien Bouche Pillon  3.Chris Herbert  4.Kevin Kendrick   Senior Men-1.Andrew Freitas   Legends-1.Ron Belanger  2.Joe Dimao   Grand Legends-Peter Pan   Men’s Longboard-1.Jamie Kelly  2.Kevin Kendrick  3.Chris Herbert   Legends Longboard-1.Ron Belanger  2.Joe DiMao   Grand Legends Longboard-1.Peter Pan   Open Shortboard-1.Jamie Kelly  2.Ron Belanger  3.Jude Capachietti  4.Chris Synott  5.Andre Freitas  6.Ian Lucht   Open Longboard-1.Ron Belanger  2.Jamie Kelly  3.Kevin Kendrick  4.Chris Herbert  5.Joe DiMao

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.