SUP enthusiasts were surprised to find out that the contest site had been changed from the Narragansett Town Beach to 2nd Beach in Middletown, Rhode Island. "The town beach has been a perfect venue for both surfing and sup contests," said ESA District Co-Director Ron Belanger. "The Narragansett Parks and Recreation Department won't allow any type of surfing competition on weekends during the summer season, so we had to change beaches this year. So far it has worked out well and we have had surf for every event here in Middletown."
There were close contests in 3 out of the 5 categories. The Junior Men's Final featured a tough battle between last year's winner Matt Nota of Narragansett and Newport SUP ace Nate Farrar. Nate started out strong with two solid waist high lefts that shut down on the inside shore pound. Matt negotiated through the outside rip and nailed down two thigh high rights that held up for several cutbacks into the inside section. The ability to squeeze in a few maneuvers made the difference as Nota took his second straight SUP New England Junior title.
The Boys Final showcased the hot dogging style of Andrew Nota, who has transferred his long board surfing moves to the SUP. Nota managed to do quite a balancing act in the increasingly choppy surf, as he pulled off a solid head stand and tip ride on his second wave. "It was really tough to find the right spot on these bumpy faces," said Nota. "The wind has just been picking up all day and sometimes it is quite a challenge to keep you balance on these boards."
Middletown's Liam O'Regan picked off the set wave of the day, but unfortunately well after the final horn to end the heat had sounded. Previously, he had found one big right slide that he worked into the beach with a series of strong cutbacks. That one ride was not quite enough to catch the hot dogging Nota, who notched the win.
Veteran New England female standup paddle board rider Chris Bennichon of Quincy, Massachusetts let herself drift into a big rip on the edge of the contest area, which allowed her to repeatedly pick off outstanding right peaks that backed off and held up for some nice high point rides. Carol Hesson, also of Quincy, pinned down one good left slide that gave her the second place trophy over last year's Women's Open winner, Mary Walton of Wakefield, Rhode Island.
Narragansett's Peter Pan captured the Men's Open title with two thigh high left "channel choppers" that held up into the inside shore break. Kate Nota, also of Narragansett, joined her SUP brothers in taking the Girls Open title in the first heat of the day.
Due to the strong onshore winds that began to whitecap by early afternoon, ESA officials decided to cancel the flat water races. "With all that chop out there, we would have had a tough time getting back against that wind," said Matt Nota. "It would not have been fun at all." A vote was taken and no one wanted to battle the now 20-25 knot gusts.
This year's event was sponsored by the Eastern Surfing Association, Pipeline Clothing, Narragansett Surf and Skate, and the Middletown Parks and Recreation Department. The next ESA rated contest will take place this coming Saturday at the same beach. The contest is on call for Friday night after 6:00 PM on the ESA hotline 401-789-1954.