INDIALANTIC – More than a dozen surfers representing Central Florida dominated in windy, challenging surf at Paradise Park at this year’s three-day 50th annual ESA (Eastern Surfing Association) Southeast Regionals.
Jon Wallhauser, 16, of Satellite Beach, was the standout in the youth divisions, collecting two division trophies; a first place in U-18 junior men’s shortboard and a runner-up honor in the U-18 longboard event.
“It was a bit tricky out there,” he said, referring to his final heat Sunday, where he was awarded an 8.5 on his first wave.
“I knew I did well on that wave, but also knew I had to get another good ride to seal the deal.”
In the final minutes of the heat, he was able to take one all the way to the beach to do just that — leading up to the judges’ decisions to award him his first ESA Youth Ironman award.
“I started surfing ESA a few years ago and really love the family vibe and organization,” he said. “I am stoked to have done so well in these conditions.”
Audrey Presti, of Melbourne Beach, a first-time competitor in the event, was one of three CFL competitors in the girls U-14 division to claim titles. The 12-year-old was joined by Abby Yates, who was second, and Sophia Kalantzis and Sara Stolz, who finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Presti also took fourth in the U-16 girls division.
“I am happy to get these results, especially since this is my first time at ESA regionals,” Presti said.
In the adult divisions, longtime ESA competitor, Steve Moldenhauer, owner of “The Wavecaster,” was again the big winner for CFL’s region in the men’s divisions; taking first in the 60-and-up Legends longboard and 50-and-up Grand Legends shortboard finals.
A competitor in ESA since 1969, at age 13, he said this year’s win was especially memorable, as he recently celebrated his 60th birthday.
“My final heat in the high-tide shore break was no easy task; I am thrilled to still be able to get out there and compete in this event.”
Central Florida’s Billy Austin took third in the Legends Longboard.
Other CFL region surfers who made the podium at the historic 50th event were Maddi Zeuli, second in U-18 junior women’s shortboard; Jasmine Gailey, third in U-18 women’s longboard and fifth in U-18 shortboard; and Figona Sargente (fifth) and Brooke Davis (sixth) in U-18 women’s longboard. Joey Putnall finished fourth and fifth in U-16 and U-18, along with CFL’s David Sebastian, third in U-16 shortboard.
Sara Stolz won the menehue longboard division.
A special trophy in honor of the late Mickey McCarthy, longtime photographer for ESM Magazine, was presented to the publication’s owner, Dick Meseroll. McCarthy provided thousands of photos during the past 50 years for the ESA organization and was one of the most well-known and respected amongst surf photographers on the east coast.
Mario DeLuca, local CFL’s ESA chapter director, said he was pleased with this year’s involvement by both competitors and parents.
“This year’s attendance was great,” he said. “Though we were hoping for more ideal wave conditions, we are happy to have had no rain, and waves.”
Contact Sue DeWerff @ firstname.lastname@example.org