Friday At The 2010 ESA Easterns

With Junior Men's quarters kicking things off at 7 a.m. today we were up with the sun. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

With Junior Men's quarters kicking things off at 7 a.m. today we were up with the sun. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Resurrecting The ESA Easterns Sweep, Part 2

Nick Rupp would love to end his ESA career with a third Junior Men’s title in a row. The only capper would be completing the sweep—winning the Junior Men’s and Open Shortboard titles. At the opposite end of the spectrum sits the other potential sweeper, Chris Tucker.

Chris Tucker was finding little sections like these all morning. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Chris Tucker was finding little sections like these all morning. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Nick Rupp making the most of the small stuff in his early morning quarters heat. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Nick Rupp making the most of the small stuff in his early morning quarters heat. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Though Brian Bielmann didn't start shooting water photography till after he moved off the East Coast, some of the ideas for his legendary water shots were probably formed right inside Outer Banks barrels like this one. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Though Brian Bielmann didn't start shooting water photography till after he moved off the East Coast, some of the ideas for his legendary water shots were probably formed right inside Outer Banks barrels like this one. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Satellite Beach’s Chris Tucker is also in his final year of ESA competition, but unlike Rupp, doesn’t have an Easterns title to his name. He came close in 2008, when he finished second behind Rupp. But last year Tucker had a tough go in the Southeast Regionals qualifier and wasn’t able to give Rupp another run for his money at Easterns.

Determined to get back to Hatteras, this year Tucker took the Junior Men’s title at Southeast Regionals to qualify for his last chance at winning an Easterns title. Unofficial whispers on the beach are congratulating Chris on taking the Open, but he’s not quite sure: “I really only got one good wave. I don’t think I took it, but I really want that sweep bad. I’m just going to keep focusing on Junior Men’s because that’s all that’s left.”

The lineup for Friday morning. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

The lineup for Friday morning. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Enjoying things at REAL Watersports for our big party on Thursday night. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Enjoying things at REAL Watersports for our big party on Thursday night. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Buddies from across the states, Adam Virs and Dean Randazzo. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Buddies from across the states, Adam Virs and Dean Randazzo. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

And focus he did today, taking his early morning quarterfinals heat with vigorous, dynamic slashes, tailblows, and air reverses in the diminishing knee-to-waist-high peaks. Chris sticks to his routine, where Nick Rupp plays things as they come. Before every heat Chris goes through the same stretches; he has a nervous energy, but it’s a positive nervousness that shows he’s hungry for victory and feeds off it. He tells me he’s worn the same boardshorts and t-shirt to the beach everyday he’s been on the Outer Banks: “They’re starting to stink pretty bad, but it’s working so I’ve just stayed with it.”

After the four Junior Men’s quarters they had a break until 1:30 in the afternoon. Chris headed to his family’s rental house and took things easy, like the other seven semi-finalists all did. Upon returning to the beach even smaller and less consistent surf was on tap, but it didn’t matter. They’d love it to be bigger, but sometimes winning Easterns titles means going through some funky conditions.

Florida's Miss Haley Watson, Junior Women's contender. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Florida's Miss Haley Watson, Junior Women's contender. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Potential sweeper Chris Tucker. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Potential sweeper Chris Tucker. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Nick Rupp is pretty familiar with the Hatteras Lighthouse. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Nick Rupp is pretty familiar with the Hatteras Lighthouse. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

And the possibility of the sweep still lives on because those four junior men are Chris, Nick Rupp, Keto Burns, and Dylan Kowalski. No doubt it will be a hard-fought battle for a very coveted Easterns title. Everyone’s got the sweep on their minds, even fellow finalist Keto Burns recognizes what his buddies Chris Tucker and Nick Rupp are shooting for: “I’d be psyched to see one of them bring the sweep back, but I’d rather see that Junior Men’s title in my hands.” Whether or not the sweep makes a return to Easterns, whoever takes the Junior Men’s will have battled through a very talented crew of surfers to get it.—Ryan Brower

Stay tuned for the conclusion of this year’s ESA Easterns and a full wrap of the amateur divisions after competition finishes tomorrow. And head to surfesa.org for even more info.

Friday’s Results (click each division for the results):

Menehunes

Boys

Junior Men’s

Girls

Junior Women’s

The surf was still big enough for Cam Richards to drop his wallet. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

The surf was still big enough for Cam Richards to drop his wallet. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

East Coast morning light providing some silhouettes. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

East Coast morning light providing some silhouettes. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

The ERGO gear toss hyped all the kids up Thursday night. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

The ERGO gear toss hyped all the kids up Thursday night. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Chris Tucker doing some fin work. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Chris Tucker doing some fin work. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Nick Rupp on a rare right off the Hatteras groin. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Nick Rupp on a rare right off the Hatteras groin. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Florida's Corey Howell is plugging along in the Boys' and looking to come out on top this year. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Florida's Corey Howell is plugging along in the Boys' and looking to come out on top this year. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Cam Richards has no problem with the small stuff. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Cam Richards has no problem with the small stuff. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

The Great Lakes' Burton Hathaway is just stoked on life. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

The Great Lakes' Burton Hathaway is just stoked on life. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Savannah Bradley making due in the small stuff. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Savannah Bradley making due in the small stuff. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Easterns isn't just for the birds. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Easterns isn't just for the birds. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Keto Burns tried matching his air reverse from yesterday. He'll be needing these moves in the Junior Men's final tomorrow. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Keto Burns tried matching his air reverse from yesterday. He'll be needing these moves in the Junior Men's final tomorrow. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

New Jersey's Brendan "Buck Naked" Buckley is still on Cali Rally mode. Actually that's the mode he's always on. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

New Jersey's Brendan "Buck Naked" Buckley is still on Cali Rally mode. Actually that's the mode he's always on. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

This one's called the Dirt hoe down. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

This one's called the Dirt hoe down. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Keenan Lineback. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Keenan Lineback. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Heading out for a little free surf. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Heading out for a little free surf. Photo: Bielmann/SPL