Resurrecting The ESA Easterns Sweep, Part 2
Nick Rupp would love to end his ESA career with a third Junior Men's title in a row. The only capper would be completing the sweep—winning the Junior Men's and Open Shortboard titles. At the opposite end of the spectrum sits the other potential sweeper, Chris Tucker.
Satellite Beach's Chris Tucker is also in his final year of ESA competition, but unlike Rupp, doesn't have an Easterns title to his name. He came close in 2008, when he finished second behind Rupp. But last year Tucker had a tough go in the Southeast Regionals qualifier and wasn't able to give Rupp another run for his money at Easterns.
Determined to get back to Hatteras, this year Tucker took the Junior Men's title at Southeast Regionals to qualify for his last chance at winning an Easterns title. Unofficial whispers on the beach are congratulating Chris on taking the Open, but he's not quite sure: "I really only got one good wave. I don't think I took it, but I really want that sweep bad. I'm just going to keep focusing on Junior Men's because that's all that's left."
And focus he did today, taking his early morning quarterfinals heat with vigorous, dynamic slashes, tailblows, and air reverses in the diminishing knee-to-waist-high peaks. Chris sticks to his routine, where Nick Rupp plays things as they come. Before every heat Chris goes through the same stretches; he has a nervous energy, but it's a positive nervousness that shows he's hungry for victory and feeds off it. He tells me he's worn the same boardshorts and t-shirt to the beach everyday he's been on the Outer Banks: "They're starting to stink pretty bad, but it's working so I've just stayed with it."
After the four Junior Men's quarters they had a break until 1:30 in the afternoon. Chris headed to his family's rental house and took things easy, like the other seven semi-finalists all did. Upon returning to the beach even smaller and less consistent surf was on tap, but it didn't matter. They'd love it to be bigger, but sometimes winning Easterns titles means going through some funky conditions.
And the possibility of the sweep still lives on because those four junior men are Chris, Nick Rupp, Keto Burns, and Dylan Kowalski. No doubt it will be a hard-fought battle for a very coveted Easterns title. Everyone's got the sweep on their minds, even fellow finalist Keto Burns recognizes what his buddies Chris Tucker and Nick Rupp are shooting for: "I'd be psyched to see one of them bring the sweep back, but I'd rather see that Junior Men's title in my hands." Whether or not the sweep makes a return to Easterns, whoever takes the Junior Men's will have battled through a very talented crew of surfers to get it.—Ryan Brower
Stay tuned for the conclusion of this year's ESA Easterns and a full wrap of the amateur divisions after competition finishes tomorrow. And head to surfesa.org for even more info.
Friday’s Results (click each division for the results):