The Youth Has Arrived At ESA Easterns

Nick Rupp's vicious backhand was all over the place on Wednesday. Photo: Dirtae

Evan Barton laying down a mean hack. Photo: Dirtae

The kids have arrived at this year’s Easterns. On the day when all adult competition culminates, it was the kids “showing everyone how it’s done,” as Chuck Berand mentioned to me.

Though no actual youth specific divisions got underway today, the main attraction on Wednesday was the start and completion of the Open Shortboard division—one of the most coveted at Easterns. With the surf having bumped down a notch and organized a bit more, there were some board-breaking grinders unloading off the Cape Hatteras groin.

Chris Tucker, well, tucking in. Photo: Dirtae

Chris Tucker, well, tucking in. Photo: Dirtae

From the older guard to the menehunes, the Open Shortboard division is a mixing of the best male surfers any age. And it was all out from the start—even the music on the beach seemed to bring things up a notch today.

Two-time defending Junior Men’s champion Nick Rupp arrived cool as a cucumber today for someone looking to three-peat. He told me how he skipped firing S-Turns this morning to save energy for the entire day of surfing the Open division, anticipating he’d be surfing all day. You can tell the Southerner wants that coveted sweep in his last attempt at it (Junior Men’s and Open Shortboard titles in the same year). Rupp’s surfing was on-point from the moment he paddled out for his first free-surf of the morning.

South Carolina's Cam Richards ripped apart his earlier heats but couldn't keep things rolling in his semis bout. I've got a hunch he's gonna be running the Boys' division though. Photo: Dirtae

South Carolina's Cam Richards ripped apart his earlier heats but couldn't keep things rolling in his semis bout. I've got a hunch he's gonna be running the Boys' division though. Photo: Dirtae

In his semi-final heat he pig-dogged in and out of some of the best barrels of the afternoon and was putting his board as vertical as you can on your backhand. But it was Satellite Beach’s Chris Tucker who just squeaked the semis victory away from Rupp by showing a bigger variety of carves, vertical snaps, and slicing wraps. In the other semi it was Melbourne Beach’s Corey Howell and North Carolina’s Shane Burn advancing to the final.

I told you the kids had arrived today, because this final did not include anyone older than the Junior Men’s division. Shane Burn committed a costly error by taking a wave before the heat started, and had to make his way back out during a set as the horn sounded. He never really seemed to bounce back from this mistake.

Chris Tucker letting loose. Photo: Dirtae

Chris Tucker letting loose. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell was having a few timing issues and miscues with completing turns, and never really get that solid starter score. But upon completion of the final Corey paddled back out for a free-surf and was going big, having fixed whatever was the problem. Look for Corey to be a legit threat to Cam Richards’ three-peat in the Boys’ division.

Which brings us to the two performers of the final, Tucker and Rupp. Rupp was still searching for those barrels, and he even pulled into an incredibly deep one at one point, but it was nowhere near makeable. But he also exhibited why his backhand has won him so many Easterns titles off that very Cape Hatteras left, putting on an assorted showing of backhand money turns.

A Keto Burns wrap special all the way from St. Augustine, Florida. Photo: Dirtae

A Keto Burns wrap special all the way from St. Augustine, Florida. Photo: Dirtae

Tucker on the other hand was exhibiting his frontside attack on the lefts, racing past sections no regularfoot could and blasting some high-scoring turns. He was really starting to let the fins loose throughout the heat and capped it off with a clean air reverse.

But the ESA chooses to hold off on the announcement of the Open Shortboard winner until the end of the week, enticing those that were in the final to give it all they’ve got for the sweep—and those two would be Tucker and Rupp. Surely they’ll have that possible victory in their minds as they square up to battle for the even more coveted Junior Men’s title.—Ryan Brower

We’ll have the full adult division results later tonight and continued full coverage from the 2010 ESA Easterns as the youth divisions unfold. Head to surfesa.org for even more info.

Just some good ol' Southern boys shooting the shit. Photo: Dirtae

Just some good ol' Southern boys shooting the shit. Photo: Dirtae

Brett Barley, Alek Parker, Ben Bourgeois, and more paddled out after the comp and started blowing up. This one's for you Casey! Photo: Dirtae

Brett Barley, Alek Parker, Ben Bourgeois, and more paddled out after the comp and started blowing up. This one of Brett Barley's for you Casey! Photo: Dirtae

That's head judge Gordon Lawson who, after a full day of juding and not surfing, paddled out after the comp and on his second wave this happened. Sorry Gordon. Photo: Dirtae

That's head judge Gordon Lawson who, after a full day of juding and not surfing, paddled out after the comp and on his second wave this happened. Sorry Gordon. Photo: Dirtae

Chris Tucker's air reverse in the final. Photo: Dirtae

Chris Tucker's air reverse in the final. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell. Photo: Dirtae

Keto Burns and Cam Richards about to head out for their semis heat. Photo: Dirtae

Keto Burns and Cam Richards about to head out for their semis heat. Photo: Dirtae

Chris Tucker's fins free attack in the final may have gotten him the title. We wait. Photo: Dirtae

Chris Tucker's fins free attack in the final may have gotten him the title. We wait. Photo: Dirtae

Florida's Keto Burns smashing the closeout section. Photo: Dirtae

Florida's Keto Burns smashing the closeout section. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell is only 14 and saw himself in the Open Shortboard final today. We've got a feeling he'll be there again. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell is only 14 and saw himself in the Open Shortboard final today. We've got a feeling he'll be there again. Photo: Dirtae

Chris Tucker stomping one out. Photo: Dirtae

Chris Tucker stomping one out. Photo: Dirtae

Told you the groin was spitting some nice little hollow things out today. Photo: Dirtae

Told you the groin was spitting some nice little hollow things out today. Photo: Dirtae

Cam Richards. Photo: Dirtae

Cam Richards. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell on a foamy gurgler. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell on a foamy gurgler. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell sans jersey and freeing things up with the tail. Photo: Dirtae

Corey Howell sans jersey and freeing things up with the tail. Photo: Dirtae

The four Open Shortboard finalists heading out at the groin. Photo: Dirtae

The four Open Shortboard finalists heading out at the groin. Photo: Dirtae