Story by Michelle Sommers photos and captions by Dick “Mez” Meseroll / ESM

Nags Head, North Carolina – The ESA held its second of three regional qualifying events for The Easterns® at Jennette’s Pier this past weekend.  The 2023 Mid-Atlantic Regional Surfing Championship brought amateur surfers of all ages from Virginia, North and South Carolina to compete in hopes of obtaining their slots for the ESA’s national championship in September.

Welcome to Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, NC and the 2023 ESA Mid-Atlantic Regionals, the second stop of three crucial qualifying events on the road the the ESA’s Easterns Championship this coming September.

Following a short rain delay on Friday, the event ran double-beaches through Saturday in order to be complete by the time more weather was forecast to move in on Sunday.

“It wouldn’t be an ESA event in the Outer Banks without crazy weather conditions,” said ESA’s executive director Michelle Sommers.  “Everyone knows that we always get great waves for our events at Jennette’s Pier, but we do have to deal with extremes in order to reap the rewards.”

Quote ESA Executive Director, Michelle Sommers – “It wouldn’t be an ESA event on the Outer Banks without crazy weather conditions …”. True that but it never dampens the stoke of the competitors as shown by these two rain soaked, smiling faces because you know great waves – and great surfing – usually accompany that meteorological crazy.

Surfline’s wave forecast held through the weekend and surfers were gifted great waves to showcase their skills to the judges, which included many who currently work with the WSL and came up surfing these ESA events as well.

Speaking of great rides, Fletcher Whittle, 15 year old surfer-shaper from Wrightsville Beach, NC, shwn slashing one of the sickest turns of the event on the blade he handcrafted from shaping to glassing to color to finning it while also copping the MAR Junior Ironman award . 

ESA All-Star Matton Bain had the highest scoring heat in his Open Shortboard heat on Friday.  He scored an 8.77 and a 9.53, which won him the ESA’s Hot Wave Award of the event.

If not for Matton Bains stunning 9.53 during the open shortboard final which won him the “Hot Wave Award” as the best ride of the event, that accolade might very well have gone to the aforementioned Mr. Whittle above.

“That 9.53 was a surprise to me as that wave just popped up out of nowhere and was a total gem,” said Bain.  “I wanted to try to get a huge score since I was already well in the lead and work the crowd a bit.  That was the single highest wave and combined heat scored I’ve ever had – best heat of my surfing life so far.”

Taylor Meekins breaking the fins free during his impressive run to the U14 win. To say this kid impressed in an abject understatement.

Two ESA All-Stars, Taylor Meekins and Cash Souter, put on a show throughout the event.  They are Outer Banks locals so they are familiar with the conditions that were on hand both days.  Meekins and Souter made the finals of Boys U14 and U16, with Meekins claiming first in Boys U14 and Souter won Boys U16.

Cash Souter with the U16 hardware nearly as big as him.

“The waves were good and the competition was tough, but it was a great day to be in the water,” said Meekins.

Long-time ESA competitor, Jesse Heter, claimed wins in both of ESA’s Open divisions on Saturday.  Heter wasn’t planning to surf Open Shortboard but opted to at the last minute on Friday taking an alternate spot.

Jesse Heter took heed of his girlfriends advice and ended up copping both the Open Shortboard and longboard divisions. Let that be a lesson to all of us when our better halves speak.

“If your girlfriend is telling you to do something, you should just do it,” said Heter.  “The best surfer is the one having the most fun.”

Heter “just doing it” in the Open Shortboard final and doing it better than everyone else.

ESA Junior All-Star Story Martinez claimed three wins in Girls U12, U14 and Jr Women Longboard.  She also made it to the final of the Menehune Longboard, as well as being the only female competitor in Open Shortboard.

What’s the Story? Story Martinez’s indefatigable romp to three, count ’em, three dominant wins in the U12, U14 and Women’s Junior Longboard tilts as well as making the Menehune Longboard final and then taking on the big(ger) boys in the Open Shortboard as the only female to have the moxy to mix it up with her opposite gender. If that ain’t the headline story of the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Regionals then nothing is!

“Story was surfing was above the level of many of the competitors in the event,” said ESA All-Star coach Jason Mote!.  “She has a great future ahead of her in this sport as we are stoked to her a part of the ESA and the All-Stars.

Hey now, you’re an All-Star. Coach Motes ( far left ) with his Mid-Atlantic team. Since Jason stepped into the role of working with some of the ESA elite surfers a few years ago it’s little coincidence to see over all performance levels of this squad going through the roof.

ESA sponsor Sharkbanz offered up product to the U12 and U14 finalists, as well as fun interactive ESA trivia throughout the day on Saturday that entertaining announcers Travis Ajay and Phil Jackson delivered with excitement.

NSC’s Mako Mesilunas eked out Junior Mens Longboard by .10th of a point over VA’s ripper with committed moves like this.

Special thanks to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, the Town of Nags of Head and Jennette’s Pier as well as local event sponsors Sun Realty, Johanna’s Catering, Pepsi and Sam & Omie’s.

Dorian Costa had one of the cleanest tip rides of all the longboard competitors rides but fell a tych short to Mako but impressing all with his beautiful, old school soul surfing stylings. Watch out for this dude at Easterns!

Final results can be found by clicking here.

ESA’s final regional event is its 2023 Northeast Regionals in Ocean City, Maryland May 12-14. – Michele Sommers –

One of the more dynamic divisions in all the ESA 2023 Mid-Atlantics, the Boys U13 crew. Everybody gets amped up when these groms hit the water frothing out of their gourds. Well done lads !

Speaking of frothing grom rippers, the OBNC’s Cash Souter laying down a clean rail turn during his huge Boys U16 win.

( Left to Right ) Junior Ironman Fletcher Whittle, Ironwoman Story Martinez and Ironman Perry Creef with their awards.

SSC’s Georgia Brown’s sweet lip bash during her Junior Women U18 finals victory.

Rain soaked and super stoked Georgia Brown gets the chair by her support crew as the heavens opened up and gave her a victory shower courtesy of Ma Nature.