waves hammered annual windsurfing wave contest
Igor created huge wave action all five days of the Hatteras Wave Jam
2010 last week. True, the waves were a major score, but the
By ANNE BOWERS
This was the third annual Hatteras Wave Jam. Event organizer,
Bill Bell of Nags Head, spent five months organizing this wave
competition, and it was the biggest one to date.
“Every year is better,” said Bell at the award’s ceremony on Saturday
night, Sept. 18. He was extremely happy with the local
from the windsurfing shops and restaurants that contributed to the
All five days of the Wave Jam were jam-packed from morning to
night. Each day began with a captain’s meeting at 10:30
a.m. Then the contestants, spectators, and judges spent the
at the beach waiting for more wind in order to run heats. The
evenings were busy with instruction clinics, viewing newly released
windsurfing movies, super door prizes, and marvelous local food.
The windsurfing industry lent a ton of support to the competition and
ponied up some killer prizes. The top door prize was an RRD
Twin 90 wave board. Other super prizes included wave sails
Maui Sail and from Goya. DaKine contributed harnesses and
windsurfing stuff. ABK gave a complete pass to one of their
famous windsurfing camps. There was more, which included an
Professional PWA wave sailor, Graham Ezzy of Paia, Hawaii, entered the
contest. The Hatteras windsurfing community was thrilled to
a celebrity pro competing in this year’s event. Graham Ezzy
the son of David Ezzy, designer and owner of Ezzy Sails.
The competition began on Wednesday, Sept. 15, at Ramp 55 in Hatteras
village. The winds were light out of the northeast at
around 15 mph. The building waves were too good to pass up,
many sailors took to the waters on stand-up paddleboards (aka SUP) with
The amateur wave event was scheduled for the following day and was
moved up to Ramp 30 in search of better wind. The wind
around to the south-southwest for the afternoon at an average speed of
20. But the waves were dumping and hampered the performances
the afternoon. There was a ton of broken gear and ripped
which earned the session the nickname of “the carnage heats.”
Thankfully, no one was hurt.
The instruction clinic that evening centered on handling and surviving
extreme wave conditions. The clinic lasted a couple of hours
was full of incredible information on how to handle the aggressive
conditions that the ocean was producing.
“There is 2 feet between death and being safe,” said lead instructor
Andy McKinney, owner of Wind-NC, a windsurfing shop located in Avon.
Local windsurfer Keith McCullough added that once sailors enter the
ocean with their gear, they must always keep moving forward.
Don’t back up. Getting out doesn’t have to be pretty.
On the next day, the conditions worsened as the wind lightened and the
waves grew even bigger. There was only one sailor who
successfully got out through the shore break. He was Norfolk
resident Ian Stokes, the youngest competitor. All the others
denied, including the celebrity pro.
On Saturday, only the pros were scheduled to compete. The contest was
moved back to Ramp 55. The wind had swung back to the
at 20 to 25 mph, and the waves came in mast-high sets. Even
the pro guys, it was very difficult to get out. In fact, it
downright ugly and some pros withdrew from the competition.
four sailors made it out long enough to ride a wave. They
Bill Bell, Graham Ezzy, Ian Stokes, and Keith McCullough.
“Everything hurt from just trying to get out,” McCulloch
lamented. “My hands, my arms, my legs….”
Saturday evening in the parking lot at the Graveyard of the Atlantic
Museum, the awards were presented. Traditional scoring
were thrown out for the Wave Jam because there was actually very little
wave riding during the contest because of the tough
Quorum polling of the crowds and contestants was the default method of
And the winners were:
The amateur division was won by 27-year-old Josh Miller from Ventnor,
N.J., with Ian Stokes taking second place and Ryan Getchis, 34, from
Mystic, Conn., taking third. Josh was the underdog but got
the finals because Charles Lategano was forced to withdraw because he
had no unbroken equipment left to sail.
Pro windsurfer Graham Ezzy was declared the victor of the Expert/Pro
Division. Avon resident Keith McCulloch took home second
and event organizer Bill Bell, garnered third
The usual category of “Aerial Artistry” was renamed “Shore Break
Artistry” for this year’s contest. Gordy Stokes of Norfolk,
was named winner because of his nearly perfect shore-pound backloop
with rig and body.
Gordy's son, Ian, won the next category of “Choice Wave,” which was
simply who had the best wave ride of the event. It happened
during Friday heats at Ramp 30, and he did it after getting through
some killer shore break. He was the only contestant to make
on Friday. Ian is 16 years old and was the youngest
“Master Wave” is a category dedicated to sailors over 40 and the award
went to Charles Lategano. According to the crowd, he put on
show as he wrestled with the shore break. The shore break won
that heat and broke his equipment, which kept him from advancing.
Canadian Francois Cremer won the “Wipe-out Award” for his ability to
stay in the spin cycle during Thursday’s carnage heats. He
real crowd pleaser.
The day after the Wave Jam 2010 ended, many of the contestants took the
ferry over to Ocracoke for a fun expression session. The wind
good and the shore break wasn’t nearly as brutal as the sailors had
experienced in the previous three days. However, there were
reports of more broken gear.
According to Keith McCulloch, the waves were breaking way
offshore. It was a good session.
The wave-weary crew caught some needed rest on the ferry ride back to
Hatteras Island. With the contest over, many opted to take
off from sailing, even though the wind and waves were decent.
Everyday was sunny and warm. Simply gorgeous weather!
Andy McKinney of Wind-NC said that Wave Jam 2010 was
There were a lot of fresh faces, and he was excited to see people
pushing their limits in the challenging conditions.
“Even the people who just watched enjoyed it,” says McKinney.
Kudos to Bill Bell for pulling the Wave Jam together. It was
a helluva lot of work!
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