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Battle of the Beach 2018

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Conrad Scores Again!
Battle of the Beach 2018

The probability of having great surf on a random, designated day in advance for seven straight years is probably 1000 to 1. Yet, with those odds, Contest Director Conrad Ferla managed to get another classic day of perfect shoulder high surf for the Annual Battle of the Beach. This year’s contest, held at Mary’s Bar, at Matunuck Point in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, featured the waves that make it one of the premier surf breaks in the world. If you picked up the right peaking swell, the ride was long and sweet, and you won the heat. Those who chose to fight for the bigger peaks closer to the point, ended up with a disappointing and disappearing shoulder to work with. With 8-person heats and long paddles out, this left competitors with no room for mistakes.

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Photo: Lisa Haase.

With thousands of dollars in surfboards and merchandise at stake for the finalists, the contest was a high energy affair, with outstanding surfing performance in every category. As is usually the case in any East Coast contest, it was a field day for Eastern Surfing Association competitors, and the New England team took care of business. All six divisional winners were ESA, as well as most of the top three finalists in each division.

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Photo: Lisa Haase.

ESA All-Star Kai Nichols of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire shredded the Open Shortboard final, as well as every other elimination heat, edging out two-time East Coast Championships finalist, Jamie Kelley of Nantasket, Massachusetts. They traded big left peaks for 20 minutes, with Nichols finding a perfect inside section on the last wave, to take the title.

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Photo: Lisa Haase.

Narragansett’s Matt Nota’s two extended tip rides across the inside bowl, sewed up the Men’s Open Longboard crown. James Contreras edged out Jamie Kelley for second place with a solid, long distance left that he rode from outside at the point, into the shorebreak.

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Kim Romagnesi. Photo: Lisa Haase

New York’s top female, Kim Romagnesi, made it two titles in a row, as she sat and waited for the set waves to appear. She found one immediately, forcing the rest of the pack to scramble for a good wave. Both Lily Gartner and Mary Rand then took off on a couple of marginal inside peaks, while Kim waited for a second big one. That came as both Gartner and Rand were paddling out, and the contest was over at that point.

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Mary Rand. Photo: Lisa Haase.

Sophia Martino of Westerly, Rhode Island, continues to dominate the Open Grom Longboard ranks, as she styled her way to yet another win, this time over team mate, Paige Hedde of South Kingstown. Martino combined cutbacks and classic trimming, to top the category, and beat all the boys on the way.

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Photo: Lisa Haase.

In the Open Grom Shortboard final, it was Wakefield’s Dylan Moran connecting through insdie and outside peaks, as he put together a dominating performance of high powered cutbacks and lip bashes to top Sam Reilly for the crown. Paige Hedde transitioned from a 2nd place in the longboard, to a 3rd place in the shortboard final.

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Photo: Lisa Haase.

The final division of the day was the winner take all-cash prize, Single Fin Challenge. This was the crowd favorite, with competitors using their skills to navigate the circa 1970’s antiques in the high tide shorebreak. Again, it was Kai Nichols ripping up the left peaks, to top Mick Bialek of Narragansett for the win.

After 10 hours of non-stop competition, the prizes were distributed at the Ocean Mist Bar and Grill, right on the beach. Winner and top finishers received brand new surfboards from Rozbern, Bic Sport, Tora, Soundings, Chemistry, Vec, Superbrand, Wave Bandit, Crowd Control, Sunova, and Soundings. Kai Nichols got the big prize for his outstanding overall performance, with a sound system from The House of Marley.

Prizes were distributed from local surf shops who supported the event. These included Narragansett Surf and Skate, Matunuck Beach, Island Sports, Drift, Breakwater, Diamond Blue, Civil, Elemental, Levitate, Nor Easter, Ocean House, Water Brothers, and Hive.

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