Interview by Jason Hoover @hoovtangclan
Presented by Wave Riding Vehicles at https://www.waveridingvehicles.com
Since mid-late winter every sport on the planet was in a historical state of flux and uncertainty instilling a deep longing in every fan as the Coronavirus robbed us of some of our favorite competition pastimes like the entire 2020 ESA Regionals events.
That one hurt especially.
Fast forward a few months and competition is back as we keep fingers crossed it all works out health-wise in the end for all.
The longing to hear the crack of a ball of rawhide coming off the barrel of a Louisville slugger – albeit with fake crowd noises piped in on broadcasts – the thump, thump, thump of a basketball and $200 dollar sneakers squeaking across a hardwood court, the thwack of a tennis ball ricochetting off a tightly strung racquet head and yes, the loud blast of the hooter and the raising of the green starter flag as your ESA heat hit’s the water are back and welcoming aural and visual treats for the ears and mind.
As the Sounds Of Summer have returned, intrepid www.easternsurf.com correspondent, Jason Hoover caught up with ESA Executive director Michelle Sommers to suss out what’s going on with the premier East Coast surf contest, the 2020 Eastern Surfing Associations Championships and what lies ahead .
Also below is a recent statement from Sommers and the ESA followed by Jason’s Q & A with the Executive Director herself. – Mez –
Statement From The ESA:
As you may have seen on ESA’s social media, several local ESA districts have started running events again. The ones who had contests in the last few weeks had big turnouts with new and returning ESA competitors, and everyone said that vibe on the beach was positive, happy and full of excitement.
The ESA is still planning on running its 2020 Easterns Surfing Championship at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina September 20-26. We hope to have your support as this may be one of the first bigger surfing events along the East Coast since before the shutdown.
Throughout the shutdown, the ESA implemented a large amount of online content to keep our members connected, as well as gain new interest below to the recap of the “Talking Story” episodes that included well-known East Coast surfing pros and legends that included Matt Kechele, Wes Laine, CJ Hobgood, Todd Holland, Asher Nolan to name a few.
While some districts are still unable to hold events, the ESA would like to continue its online presence by offering its sponsors exposure on its social media pages on FB & IG. Our new sponsorship coordinator, Zach Hall, wants to showcase ESA sponsors but we need your help.
Please send us any photo or short (15-30 sec) video/ad that you would like us to promote. Please also send us a quote, statement or any sales pitch that we can post along with it. If you would like to offer a discount code to drive folks to your website, please send that along as well.
Lastly, if you have any product that you want to distribute to our members at the district events that are running, please let us know and we can get you a mailing list for the districts who are running events. Currently, we have approval for our Jacksonville district, Virginia, Maryland, Southern NJ and Central NC. We have a few others who are getting ready!
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or ideas. We want to support our sponsors as you are continuing to support the ESA! www.surfesa.org
The ESM Q & A With ESA Executive Director Michelle Sommers:
By Jason Hoover
What contests have run? Local ESA events in SNJ, DMV, VA, CNC, NFL, NCFL. The following ESA districts have held events, or have some scheduled this week – SNJ, DMV, VA Beach, CNC, NFL and NCFL.
What they did Covid safety measure-wise? ESA has implemented safety protocols which include everything the CDC recommends, as well as constant reminders to everyone on the beach of social distancing, washing hands, etc., calling competitors to check in one at time, wearing masks where social distancing isn’t able to occur, tabulators spreading out, no food or drink offered at events from ESA, updated waivers, awards given out following each heat so there isn’t a big group at the end, hand sanitizer available for anyone who needs it, etc.
What are you and the ESA board planning / thinking of for safety measures for the 2020 Easterns? Whatever CDC guidelines are in place at that time, the ESA will follow.
Without Regionals, how are competitors qualifying for Easterns? Competitors will be invited based on their district rankings from 2019 season (just like the old days before regional events were implemented).
Infrastructure-wise how are you going to set-up and manage the scaffold for staff and judges?
Scaffolding will be similar to previous years but will be closed off to anyone not working the event and will be limited to the number of officials. Sponsor tents will be spread apart. Beach Marshall will be closed off so no congregating under like previous years.
Trophy presentation plan? Awards will be presented following each specific final, which is what we have been doing in previous years.
Face masks mandatory for all staff and support? The ESA will follow whatever is recommended per CDC guidelines at that time.
Social distancing implemented for scaffold? As much as we are able to, and if we can’t, and it’s recommended, the officials will wear masks.
Social distancing for sponsors tents? Yes
Anything you would like to add or comment on in general? The safest place for people to be is outdoors, especially on the beach, in the salt air and sunshine. Our members are well-aware of the social distancing guidelines that must be followed and will adhere to these because everyone is ready to get back to their surf competitions.
Spot Check: A few words from some of the ESA Chapter Directors:
NFL and ESA All-Star coach, Jason Motes: We had a blast!! The groms were frothing to get back in the jersey and the performance levels were incredible!! It was so good get the NorthFlorida family back together again and I can’t wait for our next event August 1st. Oh and no one got sick!!!!
NCFL Director, Jason Eastwood: We ran dual beaches from 9 am until the storms kicked us off around 4:15 pm with a few heats left to run. We had a really good turnout, and everyone practiced social distancing. We decided against a final awards presentation. Instead, as finals completed, we started handing out the hardware to avoid large groups. We purchased over 60 extra rash guards, so sharing was very limited during the contest. It was great to run the first event of the year and my first event as director with a dual beach contest, only to be shut down two days later by the county.
SNJ Director, Chad Gallagher (Contest1): Despite the risks, politics, viruses, war or whatever is going on in the world surfers have always returned to the Ocean to pursue the sport they love. Nothing will ever get in the way of that. As surfers it is who we are and what we do. A kid is only going to be a kid once and they had an absolute blast at our first contest! The energy was electrifying, and the young guns were ripping!”
SNJ, Mike Collins (Contest 2): It was a record turnout for our second contest and one of the largest contests I have ever seen at the local level for the ESA. There is a lot of new talent and young groms embarking on the ESA journey. The strength of our organization rests on the legacy of our volunteers and the talent of our seasoned surfers.
VA Co-Director, Todd Starr (Upcoming Contest): Pray for Waves! – Interview by Jason Hoover @hoovtangclan