For the first time in decades, local South County surfers dominate the final standings of the recent Eastern Surfing Association New England contest circuit. After the 9-event series, area riders finished first in 14 out of 24 categories. Competitors were well tested in conditions that varied from Hurricane driven overhead heavies to miniscule one-foot ripples. Surfers traveled to Nantasket Beach, First Beach, Second Beach, Westerly Town Beach, and the Narragansett Town Beach on the circuit. The top finishers in each category now get to compete for northeast bragging rights, at the 2015 East Coast Championships Northeast Surf-Offs, which will be held in Belmar, New Jersey on May 15-17, 2015.

Leading the local charge was 13- year old Lily Gartner of Narragansett, who was outstanding in three categories. Her aggressive style and ability to charge anything that came her way, propelled her into the top spot in the Girls and second place in the Menehune Longboard division. She finished the season with 5600 points, ahead of 2nd place Charlotte Robbin, also of Narragansett, who ended the season with 4420 points. The Menehune Longboard category is for both boys and girls, and she finished a very close runner-up to Joe Doherty Jr. , with 5439 points. Joe won the division with 5556 points.

More impressive was her performance in the Open Shortboard category, in which everyone from any division can compete. She finished 2nd with 2917 points, behind veteran shortboarder, Andrew Mardsen of Nantasket, Massachusetts, who won it all with 3644 points.

Coming in a close second behind Lily, was her brother Noah, who dominated the Menehune division with 5900 points, and finished 3rd in both the Menehune Longboard and Open Shortboard categories. West Kingston’s Dylan Holtbakk had another great year, winning both the Boys Shortboard (3900 points) and Menehune Bodyboard (3700 points) divisions. He also was a close second in the Menehune Longboard category.

Special mention must be made of the up and coming Braydon Bennett of Narragansett. This 7-year old had an incredible rookie season, finishing in 3rd place in the Menehune division and 2nd place in the Menehune Bodyboard category. Notable also was the fact that he advanced to the finals in the Open Shortboard division at the last contest of the season.

Local female riders continued to demonstrate why the region can turn out champions, as North Kingstown’s Katie Zullo powered her way to the Women’s and Women’s Shortboard titles. Narragansett’s Liz Blanchette captured the Junior Women’s crown with 3000 points, while Westerly’s Sara Prince (2700 points) finished up the season in second place in the Senior Women’s category, behind champion Sara Procaccini of Carver, Massachusetts (6900 points).

Longboard specialists Matt and Andrew Nota of Jamestown, dominated their respective categories. Andrew won the Junior Longboard crown with 3900 points, while his brother Matt took the Men’s Longboard title with 2900 points. Matt also took 2nd place in the Men’s Shortboard division, behind Jamie Kelly of Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Other notable performances came from Westerly’s Ron Belanger, who won the Grandmasters title with 3700 points and finished 2nd in the highly competitive Master Longboard division. West Kingston’s Kai Holtbakk took 3rd in Senior Men and 4th in Master Longboard, while Narragansett’s Peter Pan finished first in the Legends, Legends Longboard, Open Bodyboard, and Men’s SUP categories.


The international surfing community lost a favorite son this past week, when world reknown surfing photographer Joe McGovern lost his life in a freak surfing accident at Paradise Beach, in Melbourne, Florida. Joe had come to Florida a few days early, while on assignment to photograph the annual Surf Expo in Orlando, for the Eastern Surfing Association and the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame.

Apparently, he wiped out on a good-sized wave, and hit his head on a sandbar. This caused him to lose consciousness and drown in the surf. Joe was a life-long resident of Narragansett, who started his career as a Scarborough Beach lifeguard. He worked for over 20 years as the senior photographer for the State of Rhode Island, taking thousands of photographs of politicians, social functions, and state galas.

In the surfing world, he was the gate keeper of New England surfing history, having carefully documented personalities, contests, events, and classic surf sessions for almost 40 years. His photographs have appeared in hundreds of publications and internet sites over the years, including the New York Times, Sport Illustrated, SUP Journal, Surfer and Surfing Magazines, and countless other surf and SUP magazines. Joe was the official surfing photographer for the Narragansett Times, as well as senior photographer for Eastern Surf Magazine.

Joe had just been nominated as a media selection for induction into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame-Class of 2016. Not only was Joe a great photographer and surfer, he was also one of the nicest and most sincere human beings that I have ever met. I loved him like a brother. He will be sorely missed by not only his immediate family, but by the entire worldwide surfing community.

We will be organizing a memorial paddle-out for Joe in the immediate future, and the surfing community will be notified to the time and place as soon as plans are firm.


It was a week of snowstorms in the northeast, high winds, and freezing air temperatures, as many ski areas opened for the season. ESA officials saw a small window of opportunity to run the 2014 Holiday Surfabout in between the last day of frigid and flat conditions, and a huge ocean storm that was expected to arrive the following day. “There was surf, sunny skies, and tolerable air temperatures, so we ran with it,” said ESA Competition Director Mario Frade. “We were lucky to pull it off with the two big storms on the way this week.” This contest concluded the 2014 ESA South New England season, as competitors surfed their way into the final points standings to qualify for the regional championships in May of 2015.

Photo Joe McGovern.

As has been the case in the past two years, the youth divisions have dominated the scene, with the best and most intense contests taking place in the 16 and under divisions. There were lots of close-outs, with some hard to find sections here and there. This was where local knowledge paid off.

Matt Nota. Photo Joe McGovern.

10-year old Braydon Bennett took his new surfboard out and picked off two rights that held into the shorebreak, to top Noah Gartner for the Menehune title. Jayden Parry edged out Joe Doherty for the Boys crown, while ESA All-Star Maria Barend picked off the best left of the final, to top Lilly Gartner for the Girls title.

Braydon Bennett. Photo Joe McGovern.

Andrew Nota found the right sections to take out former ESA –All Star Liam O’Regan in the Junior Men’s final, and Andrew’s brother Matt, topped South Shore champion, Charlie Frodigh for the Men’s crown. In the hotly contested Menehune Longboard division, it was a big upset as Chris Synnott trimmed across two long rights to top Joe Doherty in the low tide shore pound. Diminutive Braydon Bennett cruised into the 3rd spot.

Andrew Nota.  Photo Joe McGovern.

The best ride of the entire event came in the Junior Longboard final, when Andrew Nota managed a solid “hang ten” across a fast folding right section. Nota went on to win that division, while Charlie Frodigh came back to take the Men’s Longboard crown.

Andre Nota. Photo Joe McGovern.

In the women’s ranks, it was Sara Procaccini’s day, as she topped Sara Prince for both the long and short board categories. Stacey McLoughlin won the Women’s SUP title. Charlotte O’Halloran owned both the Women’s and Women’s Longboard titles with some strong surfing in the shut down sections.

Sara Procaccini. Photo Joe McGovern.

Sara Procaccini. Photo Joe McGovern.

In the elder categories, Andrew Marsden had a monster day, also sporting a brand new board for the event. He crushed the toughest division, winning the Open Shortboard, as well as winning the Masters and Master Longboard categories for a triple crown contest. Peter Pan edged out longtime ESA nemesis Chick Frodigh in the Legends and Legends Longboard divisions, hunting down the few left sections at the end of the contest area. Ray Cabral topped two categories, winning both the Men’s SUP and Grand Legends titles. Pat Redmond continued to dominate the bodyboard ranks, winning the Open Bodyboard crown easily.

Photo Joe McGovern.

The next rated ESA contest is the 47th Annual New England Mid-Winter Surfing Championships, to be held on February 21, 2015 at the Narragansett Town Beach. This will be the first rated contest of the 2015 season.

Photo Joe McGovern.

Final Results of the 2014 ESA Holiday Surfabout at the Narragansett Town Beach on November 23, 2014, held in 2-3 foot surf.

Braydon Bennett. Photo Joe McGovern.

Menehunes-1.Braydon Bennett 2.Noah Gartner 3.Jesse Ferriera 4.Chris Synnott 5.Mateus Galvez

Boys-1.Jayden Parry 2.Joe Doherty 3.Ed Barend

Maria Barend.  Photo Joe McGovern.

Maria Barend.  Photo Joe McGovern.

Girls-1.Maria Barend 2.Lilly Gartner

Junior Women-1.Liz Blanchette

Junior Men-1.Andrew Nota 2.Liam O’Regan

Men-1.Matt Nota 2.Charlie Frodigh

Andrew Marsden.  Photo Joe McGovern.

Senior Men-1.Andrew Marsden 2.Jose Galvez

Women-1.Charlotte O’Halloran

Senior Women-1.Sara Procaccini 2.Sara Prince

Legends-1.Peter Pan 2.Chick Frodigh 3.Ken Merrill

Grand Legends-1.Ray Cabral

Joe Doherty. Photo Joe McGovern.

Menehune Longboard-1.Chris Synnott 2.Joe Doherty 3.Braydon Bennett 4.Lilly Gartner 5.Maria Barend 6.Noah Gartner 7.Jayden Parry 8.Ed Barend 9.Jesse Ferriera

Junior Longboard-1.Andrew Nota

Men Longboard-1.Charlie Frodigh 2.Matt Nota

Master Longboard-1.Andrew Marsden 2.Jose Galvez

Legends Longboard-1.Peter Pan 2.Chick Frodigh 3.Ken Merrill 4.Ray Cabral

Women Longboard-1.Charlotte O’Halloran

Senior Women Longboard-1.Sara Procaccini 2.Sara Prince

Open Bodyboard-1.Pat Redmond 2.Peter Pan 3.Dave McLaughlin

Women SUP-1.Stacey McLoughlin

Men SUP-1.Ray Cabral 2.Peter Pan


The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame ran out of luck in the waning minutes of the big game against Florida State on Saturday. Meanwhile, it was the Eastern Surfing Association that ran into some genuine luck on that same day. Hurricane Gonzalo randomly slipped by the Rhode Island coastline, on the day of a contest that was scheduled 6 months ago. What transpired were epic surf conditions at the Narragansett Town Beach, loaded with hollow, overhead barrels and dramatic wipe-outs in the merciless shore break.

Ron Belanger. Photo: Joe McGovern.

“Surprisingly, because of the strong southwest winds, the town beach was actually the best spot to ride on this particular day,” said ESA Co-Director, Ron Belanger. “I checked out every spot from Westerly to the Point Judith Lighthouse, and this was the cleanest and biggest surf spot.”

Lilly Gartner. Photo: Joe McGovern.

The relentless hurricane swell sets poured into the beach all day long, and the winds died off during the later heats of the day, making for some glassy but challenging conditions at the high tide just before dusk. While the adult competitors did some great surfing, there was some serious big wave charging going on in the youth categories.
The Gartner siblings had another outstanding day of wave riding, as they both won their shortboard divisions and finished in the top two spots in the Menehune Longboard final.

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Annabella Volpe. Photo: Joe McGovern.

Lily took some big drops and made them with ease, topping Charlotte Robbin in the Girls Final.

When Liz Blanchette grabbed one of the biggest and nastiest set waves of the entire event, and took it into the exploding shorebreak for one of the worst wipe-outs of the contest, the judges took notice and gave her extra points. “Everyone on the beach was hooting for her on that wave,” said ESA Competition Director, Mario Frade. “We knew that there was no where to go, but she took it and charged it anyway. I don’t think many of the adults would have taken off. Her points were well deserved.”

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Photo: Joe McGovern.

As far as adult chargers, it was an even toss-up between 3 veteran riders. Ron Belanger nailed the biggest and ugliest set waves, Kai Holtbakk found the thickest and most hollow sections, and Kevin Roy pulled off the most dramatic maneuvers of the contest. Belanger’s monster outside peak ride gave him the nod over Andrew Marsden in the Grandmaster final, while Kai Holtbakk’s hollow inside left barrel gave him the edge he needed to get by Kevin Roy in the Senior Men’s final. In the tough Open Shortboard final, it was Roy all the way, as he worked 2 perfect head high left peaks to top Kai Holtbakk in the final three minutes.

Kai HoltbakkSenior
Kai Holtbakk. Photo: Joe McGovern.

The Master Longboard final was a real treat for spectators, and Andrew Marsden’s backside tip ride gave him the nod over Kevin Roy in an exciting finish. Newcomer Ryan Furey edged out Jamie Kelly for the Men’s Open title.

Ryan Furey. Photo: Joe McGovern.

Credit has to be given to Kelly, who got hit in the mouth by his board during practice before the contest. Shaking off the injury, he managed to get 2nd in the Men’s and 3rd in the Open division.

Other outstanding performances came from Sara Procaccini, who won both the Senior Women and Senior Women’s longboard categories, and Joe Hedde, who styled his way in the big surf, topping his brother in the Boys Final.

The final ESA surfing competition is scheduled for November 22nd, at the Narragansett Town Beach.

The event will be on call for Friday night, the 21st.

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Noah Gartner. Photo: Joe McGovern.

Results of the Annual ESA Northeast Surfing Championships, held during the Hurricane Gonzalo swell on October 18, 2014 at the Narragansett Town Beach, Rhode Island.

1.Noah Gartner
2.Annabelle Volpe
3.Aiden Webb

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Liz Blanchette. Photo: Joe McGovern.

1.Joe Hedde
2.Josh Hedde
3.Sean McDonald
4.Joe Doherty
5.Dylan Holtbakk
6.Ted Evans
7.Jayden Parry

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Josh Hedde. Photo: Joe McGovern.

Junior Men
1.Nick Curci
2.Andrew Nota

1.Ryan Furey
2.Jamie Kelly
3.Matt Nota

Kevin Roy. Photo: Joe McGovern.

Senior Men
1.Kai Holtbakk
2.Kevin Roy

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Kevin Roy. Photo: Joe McGovern.

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Kevin Roy. Photo: Joe McGovern.

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Kevin Roy. Photo: Joe McGovern.

1.Ron Belanger
2.Andrew Marsden
3.Scott Sutherland
4.Claudio Paolino

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Kai Holtbakk.  Photo: Joe McGovern.

1.Peter Pan
2.Mark Preece

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Andrew Marsden. Photo: Joe McGovern.

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Andrew Marsden. Photo: Joe McGovern.

1.Lilly Gartner
2.Charlotte Robbin

Junior Women-1.Liz Blanchette

Senior Women-1.Sara Procaccini

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Joe Hedde. Photo: Joe McGovern.

Open Shortboard
1.Kevin Roy
2.Kai Holtbakk
3.Jamie Kelly
4.Joe Hedde
5.Josh Hedde
6.Jayden Parry
7.Charlotte Robbin
8.Lilly Gartner
9.Noah Gartner
10.Dylan Holtbakk
11.Ted Evans
12.Andrew Marsden
13.Ryan Furey
14.Joe Doherty
15.Liz Blanchette
16.Sara Procaccini
17.Aiden Webb

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Curci, Kelly, and Furey. Photo: Joe McGovern.

Menehune Longboard
1.Lilly Gartner
2.Noah Gartner
3.Dylan Holtbakk
4.Charlotte Robbin
5.Annabella Volpe
6.Joe Doherty
7.Josh Hedde
8.Jayden Parry
9.Joe Hedde

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Joe Doherty. Photo: Joe McGovern.

Junior Longboard-1.Nick Curci

Master Longboard
1.Andrew Marsden
2.Kevin Roy
3.Kai Holtbakk
4.Scott Sutherland
5.Ron Belanger

Legends Longboard
1.Peter Pan
2.Mark Preece

Senior Women Longboard-1.Sara Procaccini

Open SUP
1.Jack Egan
2.Nick Curci
3.Mark Preece
4.Peter Pan

Menehune Bodyboard-1.Sean MacDonald

Open Bodyboard-1.Peter Pan

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Josh Hedde. Photo: Joe McGovern.

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Joe Hedde. Photo: Joe McGovern.

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Josh Hedde. Photo: Joe McGovern.


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Matt Nota. Photos: Joe McGovern.


Nearly 90% of all cardiac emergencies occur in the company of loved ones, and three-fourths of the population is unfamiliar with proper CPR techniques. Being prepared for these situations is the difference between life and death for you and those you’re surfing with. Sometimes only a couple of people at a time surf together at odd hours, and emergency services will take time to get to you in the best of circumstances.

You nearly triple the chances of survival for those you love, or even complete strangers in distress, by learning these crucial CPR techniques. Being hit in the head by a surfboard is a real possibility, and can lead to drowning. Additional precautions should take place if the victim has lost consciousness due to drowning. According NCBI, to The Heimlich maneuver should be implemented to clear water from the lungs.

If the victim is standing, then you must stand behind and wrap your arms around the waist. Apply pressure between the rib cage and the navel, using the thumb side of your fist. Then use your other hand to thrust your fist upward quickly until water stops coming out of the mouth.

If the victim is lying down, he or she should be flat on his or her back with head turned so that water is allowed to drain from the mouth. Straddle the victim at the hips, facing him or her. First, place one hand on the abdomen between the navel and the rib cage, then place the other hand atop it. Using your body weight, press with quick upward thrusts until water stops draining from the mouth.

Check out the instructions in the infographic below from to further educate yourself on the proper CPR steps.

CPR How To CPR Adults CPR Children CPR Animals


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