2010 ESA Easterns Preview

Nick Rupp, two-time Junior Men's defending champ, will look for a three-peat to cap off his ESA career. Photo: Volcom

Nick Rupp, two-time Junior Men's defending champ, will look for a three-peat to cap off his ESA career. Photo: Volcom

For the 43rd year the East Coast’s top amateur surfers once again gather on the isolated shores of the Outer Banks in North Carolina to crown the best of the East. September on the Outer Banks offers a mystique that is hard to find anywhere else—it’s typically empty and there’s typically some sort of tropical type swell churning off the coast in the Atlantic. This year is no different as we’ve got Category 1 Igor and T.S. Julia spinning out there east of the famed barrier island. Groundswell at the moment is stacking in from 6-10 feet with unruly conditions as howling northeast winds prevail.

Competition was set to start today (Sunday) but with nearly uncontestable conditions at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse the ESA has decided to postpone the start until Monday morning. As we wait for that here’s our take on who will be shining at this year’s Easterns in the meat-and-potatoes divisions. Stay tuned for much more from the ESA Easterns Championships as the week continues.—Ryan Brower

Junior Men’s Contenders

Nick Rupp

Nick Rupp. Photo: Checkwood

Nick Rupp. Photo: Checkwood

Birthday: November 21, 1992
Hometown: Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina
ESA District: Southern Northern Carolina (SNC)
Highlights: 2008, 2009 Easterns Junior Men’s cham
The Lowdown: Nick Rupp has one of the most dominant strings of Easterns titles in the history of the contest. Since his win in the menehune division way back in 2004, Rupp has won Easterns titles in his main division every year since, with the exception of 2005.

However, there is one thing he hasn’t done, and it’s the big box in his ESA career that’s yet to be checked: the sweep, winning both the Open division and Junior Men’s titles in the same year. Rupp has absolutely nothing left to prove in terms of Easterns bragging rights, but this is his last year in Junior Men’s, and the last chance he’ll have of putting a big old double exclamation point on his ESA career. He’s been spending a ton of time traveling with seasoned pros and working on a making his modern repertoire consistent, which will make him very tough to beat this year.

Keto Burns

Keto Burns. Photo: Dirt

Keto Burns. Photo: Dirt

Birthday: March 26, 1993
Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida
Homebreak: Northside Pier
ESA District: Saint Augustine, Florida (SAFL)
Highlights: First, Open Shortboard 2010 Southeast Regionals; Second, Junior Men’s 2010 Southeast Regionals
The Lowdown: Keto Burns is a man on a mission this year. He won the Boys’ division at 2008 Easterns in dramatic fashion with a big brown backdoor barrel. The consensus was he’d be a threat the next year when he moved up to Junior Men’s, but through a mix-up he didn’t make it to Easterns in 2009 and found himself on the sidelines.

But 2010 was a new year, and the lanky goofy-foot took his act to the Southeast Regionals and showed his conviction for getting to this year’s Easterns by getting second place in the Junior Men’s and winning the Open Shortboard in arguably the most talent-stacked region on the East Coast. If there’s going to be an upset in Junior Men’s, Keto is the most likely person to serve it up.

Chris Tucker

Chris Tucker. Photo: Dirt

Chris Tucker. Photo: Dirt

Birthday: October 12, 1992
Hometown: Satellite Beach, Florida
Homebreak: Perkins
ESA District: Central Florida (CFL)
Highlights: First, Junior Men’s 2010 Southeast Regionals; Second, Open Shortboard 2010 Southeast Regionals; Seventh, 2010 Reef Sweetwater Pro/Am
The Lowdown: Back in 2008, Chris Tucker came close to an Easterns title, getting second place in his first year in Junior Men’s. Though 2009 was quiet on the “Easterns” front for him, he’s coming in to this year’s ESA finale hot. He and Keto Burns flip-flopped for first and second place in the Junior Men’s and Open Shortboard divisions at Southeast Regionals. He also made it to the semis of the Reef Sweetwater Pro/Am amidst a talented field of East Coast pros.

He’s a fan of progressive surfing, but also realizes you’ve got to be able to ride out of maneuvers for them to be scored in a heat. “There’s the progressive side,” says Tucker, “but you’ve got to be consistent too. Maybe I’ll try something crazy in the heat if I have two good waves already.”

Dylan Kowalski

Dylan Kowalski. Photo: Jack McDaniel

Dylan Kowalski. Photo: Jack McDaniel

Birthday: October 22, 1993
Hometown: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
ESA District: Southern North Carolina (SNC)
Highlights: First, Open Shortboard 2010 Mid Atlantic Regionals; Fourth, Junior Men’s 2010 Mid Atlantic Regionals; Fourth, Junior Men’s 2009 ESA Easterns; ESA Allstar
The Lowdown: Dylan Kowalski has been training with Hawaiian legend Ben Aipa for years, spending part of the year on Oahu and part of the year in North Carolina. This makes him deadly in an array of conditions. This year, though, Dylan has added in some crucial training, working on one of his weakness in past years: power surfing.

“This year I’ve been working with Pancho Sullivan, who is teaching me about the strength part of surfing,” Dylan says. One of the most notable power surfers in history, Pancho’s know-how has obviously been helping Dylan improve. Last year where Dylan was getting fourths, this year he’s been getting firsts. If Dylan can utilize everything he’s improved upon this year while at Easterns, then look for him to easily make the final of both Junior Men’s and Open Shortboard, which is his goal.

Evan Barton

Evan Barton. Photo: Jim Whitney

Evan Barton. Photo: Jim Whitney

Birthday: September 14, 1992
Hometown: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
ESA District: Southern North Carolina (SNC)
Highlights: First, Junior Men’s 2010 Mid Atlantic Regionals; First, Junior Men’s 2010 East Coast Scholastics; First, Open Division 2009 East Coast Surfing Championships; Fourth, Open Shortboard 2009 ESA Easterns; ESA Allstar
The Lowdown: Evan Barton had a breakout year in 2009 and has carried over his success into the first half of 2010.

With his continued success, he will look to capitalize this year in Hatteras by pulling a Junior Men’s Triple Crown, as he’s calling it. It, of course, being a win at the Scholastics (check), Regionals (check), and Easterns. If Evan keeps to his game, which is “no pressure, just going to have fun,” then his goal of a Junior Men’s Triple Crown could be a possibility. Plus, he spends a fair amount of time in the Outer Banks and has as close to home field advantage as any of the contenders.

Mason Barnes

Mason Barnes. Photo: Jim Whitney

Mason Barnes. Photo: Jim Whitney

Birthday: December 15, 1993
Hometown: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
ESA District: Southern North Carolina (SNC)
Highlights: Third, Junior Men’s 2010 Mid-Atlantic Regionals; Fourth, Junior Men’s 2010 East Coast Scholastics; ESA Allstar
The Lowdown: Though Nick Rupp may have the SNC district on lock, there are plenty of worthy surfers from the area. Mason Barnes is one of them, and his fast, loose style is well suited to racking up points in heats. He links tight roundhouses together with air reverses effortlessly and has been doing it for full effect.

Many kids put all their focus into tail blows and airs, and while Mason can unleash those too, he’s already got a solid foundation of linking maneuvers together and doing the right move on the right section. Whether it’s a fin waft, a pocket gouge, or a layback hack, he’s got a deep bag of tricks. Not only is he well-rounded in the water, he says he’s into a ton of other activities on land as well.

Head to the next page for the Boys’ Contenders.

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