October 1, 2010

Easterns get big surf for competition – too big


Surfers are always hoping for some good swells for the Eastern Surfing Association’s Grand Final Championships in mid-September at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton.

This year, they got more surf than they wanted or needed.

As the championships were getting ready to start, powerful Hurricane Igor was passing offshore near Bermuda, and that’s hundreds of miles offshore.

However, the storm sent large swells and high seas toward the Outer Banks.  It just turns out it was too messy for riding.

“The surf is really big, doubling up, and closing,” Gary McHatton of Natural Art Surf Shop, headquarters for the Easterns, said just days before the scheduled start of the competition on Sunday, Sept. 19.

If you aren’t a surfer that means, he said, that there’s “not much of a wave to ride” and too much “white water.”

Indeed the ocean was like a washing machine – white water everywhere.

At the Lighthouse Beach, the waves washed over the beach at high tide, and scoured away enough sand to expose sandbags that once protected the lighthouse in its old location and huge rocks there were dumped in the ocean at the base of one of the groins.

The start of the Easterns was postponed from Sunday to Monday and then from Monday until Tuesday because of the ocean conditions. 

On Sunday and Monday, locals, visitors, and would-be surfers gathered on the Lighthouse Beach to watch the spectacle.  They stepped around sandbags and big, granite stones.

However, after that rocky start, so to speak, competition got underway on Tuesday. The ocean was still pretty much out of control.

Tuesday and Wednesday were really difficult for competitors.  There were a lot of broken boards – and broken egos.

Wednesday was really good for surfing, but you had to know what you were doing.

A lot of locals were foaming at the mouth to get out in those conditions.  However, I know there were a lot of people who either didn’t paddle out in their heat on the out-of-control days or just went home.

It was surf you could get hurt in.  One guy had a pretty bad wipe-out and had to be helped to the beach.  He thinks his long board hit him underwater.

The last few days leading up to the end of competition on Saturday, Sept. 25, went pretty well.

It seemed to me that all the kids were having a good time, despite the rocky start.

For more information on the competition and to see the winners, go to http://www.surfesa.org/


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