Labor Day Contest

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Labor Day Surfing Championships
Wrap Up Summer Season

Story by Peter Pan
Photos by Joe McGovern

Ron Belanger at Labor Day contest - photo by McGovernRon Belanger

Despite a rather dismal summer of wave action, the Southern New England District of the Eastern Surfing Association managed to run their 3rd rated contest of the year on Labor Day Saturday. An offshore storm system and strong onshore winds combined to produce a solid waist to chest high swell that offered competitors plenty of point scoring opportunities at 2nd Beach in Middletown, Rhode Island.

It was a huge day for the Barend family of Little Compton, Rhode Island, dominating just about every facet of the event. The action began with the diminutive Ed Barend gracefully sliding into several windswept sections to win the Menehune Final over a new hot prospect, Brayden Bennett of Narragansett.

Brayden Bennett at Labor Day Contest - McGovern PhotoBrayden Bennett

Ana Barend easily charged to wins in both the Ladies Shortboard and Senior Women’s Longboard finals in back to back heats. Shortly afterwards, it was Chuck Barend getting into the swing of things with another set of double wins. Chuck had a tougher time of it but pulled off a win over Ron Belanger in the Senior Men’s Final. Ron led for most of the final heat, before Chuck moved to the right hand side of the contest zone and picked off two outstanding rights to take it. Barend moved into the same spot in the Master’s Longboard Final to beat the hard charging Belanger with the same set of rights.

The toughest final was without a doubt the Open Final. As the best waves of the day poured through, it was yet another all-star session for current East Coast Surfing Champion, Ana Barend. She blazed her way across both left and right peaks, combining hard cutbacks and inside section work to take out the hot, up and coming Middletown youngster, Liam O’Regan.

Meanwhile, O’Regan showed he will be a force to be reckoned with at the 2012 Northeast Regional Surf-Offs in Montauk, New York. Liam continued his winning streak with some excellent power surfing combined with great wave selection. Liam easily won both the Boys and Menehune Longboard finals. It was only two weeks ago that he totally crushed it at the 3rd Annual New England SUP Surfing Championships, held at this same beach.

In the battle for supremacy in the Junior ranks, it was a big win for Little Compton’s Cob Ingalls, as he topped the division leading Drew Ragosta of Narragansett. In a battle of Rhode Island riders, it was Westerly’s Sara Parker styling her way to a win in the Junior Women’s shortboard final over Narragansett’s Courtney Sutherland.

In the elder categories, it was Claudio Paolino back in action, taking the Grandmaster event, while Peter Pan nailed two big right peaks in the first two minutes of the heat, to win the Legends final.

The choppy surf made the long boarding difficult at times, and wipe-outs were numerous. Narragansett’s Paul Bennett, on the comeback trail, would probably have won the Master’s Longboard final, had he landed a dramatic handstand on a right inside section. But the heavy chop threw him off and he had to settle for 3rd place behind the hard charging Ron Belanger and the nose riding Chuck Barend.

Newport’s Mary Aswell could certainly turn some heads at the regionals, if she decides to follow through at a higher level of competition. She showed both skill and style as she handled the conditions easily, trimming into some nice sections to take the Junior Women’s Longboard crown over Sara Parker.

Drew Ragosta came back to top Ingalls in the Junior Longboard Final, while Peter Pan took the Legends Longboard crown. In the bodyboarding events, it was East Coast Surfing Championships finalist, Pat Redmond of Boston topping talented Maryland transplant, Chance Hurley for the Open Division title. Meanwhile, Brayden Bennett edged out his brother Rigby in the Menehune Bodyboard final.

This ESA event was a fundraiser for the Institute for the Study of Non-Violence, based in South Providence, Rhode Island. All proceeds went to their sports program, which has been extremely successful. ESA profits will go to their surfing program, in order to purchase surfboards and wetsuits. The Institute is entirely privately funded and is an alternative to gang activity and trouble making that is so prevalent in the inner city. The sports activity program is the brainchild of the Juvenile Re-Entry Counselor, Shayla Belanger. She has been running the sports programs for three years, inspiring many youngsters to stay off the streets and seek healthy lifestyles.

Final Results of the ESA Labor Day Surfing Championships

MENEHUNES- 1. Ed Barend  2.Brayden Bennett  3.John Kinnane  4.Maria Barend  5.Matias Galvez   BOYS- 1.Liam O’Regan  2.Will Loughboro  3.Dylan Cole  4.Skyler Cole   JUNIOR MEN- 1.Cob Ingalls  2.Drew Ragosta   MEN- 1.Nick Cunkelman  SENIOR MEN- 1.Chuck Barend  2.Ron Belanger  3.Jose Galvez  4.Scott Sutherland   GRANDMASTERS- 1.Claudio Paolino  2.Tim Cole   LEGENDS- 1.Peter Pan    WOMEN- 1.Sara Parker  2.Courtney Sutherland   SENIOR WOMEN- 1.Ana Barend   MENEHUNE LONGBOARD- 1.Liam O’Regan  2.Skyler Cole  3.Dylan Cole  4.Brayden Bennett   JUNIOR LONGBOARD- 1.Drew Ragosta  2.Cob Ingalls  3.Edwin DeJesus  4.Niem Cotmant-EL   MASTER LONGBOARD- 1.Chuck Barend  2.Ron Belanger  3.Paul Bennett  4.Tim Cole   LEGENDS LONGBOARD- 1.Peter Pan   WOMEN LONGBOARD- 1.Mary Aswell  2.Courtney Sutherland  3.Sara Parker   SENIOR WOMEN LONGBOARD- 1.Ana Barend   MENEHUNE BODYBOARD- 1.Brayden Bennett  2.Rigby Bennett  3.Dylan Cole  4.Skyler Cole   OPEN BODYBOARD- 1.Pat Redmond  2.Chance Hurley  3.Peter Pan   OPEN SHORTBOARD- 1.Ana Barend  2.Liam O’Regan  3.Chuck Barend  4.Cob Ingalls  5.Jose Galvez  6.Drew Ragosta 

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