The Eastern Surfing Association dropped two media bombs at the 2019 January Surf Expo over the past weekend.
One piece of ordnance let loose into the social media ether was more a conventional grade munition- the naming of the 2019 All-Star team headed up by second year coach Jason Motes.
The 19 member team is a great selection and cross section of up and coming east coast competitive surfing prodigy’s selected not only for their comp record but, as importantly, for their character, good sportsmanship, scholastic achievement and professionalism, three of the core tenent’s of the ESA philosophy from the beginning. For a full listing of the 2019 All Star Team please scroll to the bottom of this story.
The second detonation however was a total nuker with the announcement of the now 52 year old organization being welcomed into the growing, competitive pro surfing ammunition depot of the WSL. To kick off this partnership a mix of newly minted All-Stars along with a handful of the organizations top performing surfers have been given slots into the Florida Pro now going on in real time progress as we post this to our readership.
Hardly anybody saw that coming and the WSL press liaison Andrew Nichols states thusly:
“The World Surf League has a pretty definitive path when it comes to qualifying for its respective Championship Tours (CT). The Top 10 men and Top 6 women claim their right to join the elite level after a season’s worth of competing around the world — with the inclusion of those just outside the mark if there are any double qualifiers (meaning the surfer is within the cutoff for the CT and QS).
But, making the jump from amateur ranks to the WSL level hasn’t always been so clear for those on the outside looking in. The Eastern Surfing Association is hoping to help change that and clarify the path to becoming a professional surfer for their competitors.”
And, from ESA Director Michelle Sommers: “We’re wanting to work with WSL to help create a pathway to the next level and offering these slots into the WSL events offers our members an additional goal to strive towards following Easterns,” ESA Executive Director Michelle Sommers said. “I think the competitors and parents have been confused over the past years with so many events and organizations and unsure of how to get to the next level — pro surfing. WSL is everyone’s endgame so why not try to get them involved now, and get them where they want to go.”
The mix of ESA All-Stars and top ESA competitors selected to compete and represent the venerable competition organization at the Florida Pro – the longest comp organization running either professionally or amateur – in the world: Taylor Green (Florida), Sara Abbott (Florida), Morgan Iglay (New Jersey), and Rachel Wilson (Virginia) on the women’s side and Fergus Kelly (Florida), Kai DeLorenzo (Florida), Cole Deveney (New Jersey), and Blayr Barton (Virginia) for the men.
Sommers also added, “The ESA selected the top surfers from their standings, as well as overall attitude at events. We had that criteria when selecting them and also want them to be great ambassadors for the ESA. Morgan Iglay, for example, is one of our ESA All-Stars for her surfing and also how she carries herself away from the water. It’s something we want to push toward and also having our surfers compete toward something. It’s also exciting to be alongside the Florida Space Coast Office of Tourism as they’re a huge supporter for 2018 and 2019.”
From the surfers point of view to say they are stoked beyond belief is a gross understatement as expressed by Florida Pro competitor Blayr Barton who added,” “It was amazing getting the opportunity to compete in the events last year and was not expecting that at all,” Barton said. “It’s great to see ESA giving us these opportunities. I was going to do the event, but had some things going on and then I got the wild card from ESA. Coming into this one I think I just want to focus on competing better instead of being so nervous and be more confident. I’m really looking forward to doing all the pro juniors and start building points to start building a career.”
This announcement and partnership with the WSL is a historical, game changing, watershed moment for the ESA’s 52 year old history, for east coast competition and, most importantly, east and Gulf coast competitors from Maine to Texas.
And to the WSL’s credit, along with equal prize money for the women, it goes to show how this current professional surfing organization is as savvy, inclusive and smart beyond any other group that came before it since the inception of the International Professional Surfers ( ISP ) back in 1976.
And this new WSL / ESA bombshell is truly an explosion heard ‘round the world. – Mez –
2019 ESA All-Stars 2019:
ESA All-Star Developmental Team ( 13 and under )