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Posing with the ESA’s 2022 Northeast Regionals support crew in Ocean City, Maryland during a thick as pea soup fog delay. These are, hands down, some of the finest, funnest, hardest working humans you can share a contest scaffold with and have as roomies during ESA events. It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of it the past five years and there are very good reasons why this iconic surf competition organization has been around for over 50 years. Here are 20 of those reasons starting from left to right from the back row : Kara Borzillo, Mike Sehr, Pam Hill, Elaine Breiholz, Perry Creef, Gina Gray, ( with sunnies ) Phil Jackson ( wearing hard hat, trust me, he needs it ), the Georgia Peach, Jeff Mosely, Skip Axelsson, Cassidy Mc Clain, Pete Machotka , Josh Motes. Kneeling ( l-r ) John Ross, Joe Grottola, Lisa Roselli, Executive Director Michele Sommers, Eddie Guilbeau, Wiley Robinson, Jason Motes and me, laying down on the job. The good news is the fog lifted, double beaches were run meaning everybody in this photo, including the guy relaxing in the sand, worked doubly hard and got it done.

The two time worn, consistent truths about shooting waves on the East Coast is that it will be 1. ) inconsistent with the other being 2. ) patience is a virtue. Sitting here at the very start of 2023, 2022 – the year of The Water Tiger, the king of all beasts in China – did absolutely nothing to change this truism. It was 365 days of long spells of flatness interspersed with limited periods of mediocrity blessed by the short lived, occasional fireworks of some downright, holy shit amazingness.

I’ve had my 4-Runner since 2007 and this is why I will literally drive this car to my grave – to get to spots like this. Hatteras Island, NC during the May 2022 Nor’easter with Eddiie Guilbeau and Wiley Robinson contemplating a go out with 35-50 mph winds, air temps feeling like the low 40’s and a hellacious east to west current pulling down the beach like an invisible river rapid. Yep, they still paddled out, how could they not. A definite “holyshit moment of amazingness” encountered while cruising along the highways ( and beaches ) of 2022.

The magic moments were there to be captured, either by still images or video and, after deep diving 2022 my files, I was pleasantly surprised to unearth more than I thought I had in both mediums. So, in retrospect, it was really not a bad year after all and after all the miles behind the wheel of the 4-Runner on the hunt for those magic visual moments between south Florida and the Del-Mar-Va. So much so in fact that I’ve decided to do a two part 2002 photo faves gallery with this one being the first drop that will be followed by the second one next Monday. Patience – and a lot of persistence – did indeed payoff and here is the proof.  – Mez –

Eric Peters wisely broke out a step up and found some bombs at Spanish House as Hurricane Nicole’s swell was still attempting to clean up. This is absolutely one of my fave frozen moments of 2022 but then again I’ve always been a sucker for a beautiful, rail burrying bottom turn. 

Beauty and the Beach at Sebastian Inlet.

Buxton kid, Kai Westcoat’s screaming, one fin in high line into the bowl section on the north side of the Outer Banks Avon Pier.

Wiley Robinson ( left ) and Eddie Guilbeau at the Nags Head, NC Duck Donuts. Don’t tell ESA Exec Director Michelle Sommers but we actually don’t really come for the ESA Championships, it’s for these dang addicting, hot, freshly deep fried rounds of dough and the amazing variety of toppings you can have put on them.

This shot is old school taken with my trusty, 15 + year old Canon 600 mm F4 L series lens. Back in the day, this was the gold standard of surf photography lenses that brought you in “tight and bright” as we used to say and revealed so much crisp, up close detail from surfers expressions on their faces to the lace-like look of the the riders spray. You rarely see this kind of framing anymore with all the pulled back, short telephoto POV’s so this piece of glass, as heavy of an MF’er it is to lug around ( plus tripod ) is always in heavy rotation and my number one go-to lens to shoot action. Guess i’m still just an old school fool at heart trying to bring the lesser seen perspectives to you. Tight and bright with Tommy Coleman at RC’s.

Inside RC’s barrel during Hurricane Earl, Satellite Beach, Florida.

The two cool thing about this frame are 1 ) the decidedly muted atmospheric, grey day tones and the heavy pop of contrast provided by Chauncey Robinson’s homage to Andy Irons paint job and the fact that 2 ) it’s a frame grab off of a 4K video clip as digital technology marches forward at a rapid pace. And oh, the amplitude of his huge punt ain’t too shabby either. And speaking of video clips …

Lucas Rogers, Buxton NC, Hurricane Ian By Mez from on Vimeo.

Quentin Turko at Avon Pier on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during Hurricane Fiona. When I saw Quentin, Bo Raynor and Blayr Barton after competing in the Mid-Atlantic Board Riders Carolina Cup Championships we chugged a few beers waiting for the afternoon Golden Light and decided to go for one more surf. It was pretty shitty actually but these guys kill it no matter what and here’s Quent giving me the Mickey Mc Carthy ( RIP ) “2M” shot I was hoping for after a very long day for all of us.

It’s an oft used phrase but, in this case, it definitely rings as true as can be – No Guts, No Glory. Teddy Whitteman went for the gusto but was denied at Spanish house during Hurricane Earl where 90 % plus of Nicole’s wave were simply un-makeable. Big kudos to the Kamakazi Kid for even thinking about it.

Photo here: There are still some places on Florida’s east coast that there is not a lot known about. And I think it’s great to respect the locals and keep your yap shut about it. Surfline’s East Coast forecaster, John Warren ( performing a perfunctory wind check, hey- it’s not always high tech shit thats needed to figure it out ) and Chauncey Robinson about to hike into Bubbies somewhere in South Florida. Sequence below: Chauncey Robinson say’s hello to “Bubbies” for the first time and we’re pretty sure he won’t be saying anything about this area anytime soon either.

The icon of all road trip icons, South Of The Border’s beloved Pedro . I always stop by every time without fail to pay homage to this legendary, schlocky piece of Americana real estate because it’s true, “you never sausage a place” . And, I promise you, you probably never will.

Outer Banks a-frame at the Star Bar, Pea Island, North Carolina, during Hurricane Ian.

Lanea Mons, winner of the 2022 ESA’s Easterns Championships women’s U12 division . This girl is 12 years old and would you please check out this turn. Think she has any potential? We say bet on it.

Photo here : Blayr Barton boosting on the north side of the Avon Pier having a warm up surf during the East Coast Board Riders Carolina Cup. I was on the south side trying to shoot the comp and BB was just putting on a full aerial master class. I don’t know how many shots I took before I finally got just the right, through-the-pilings framing I was looking for but patience finally paid off with this one and I got the only un-obstructed frame out of a couple of hundred motor driven images. Video below : Chauncey Robinson throwing early morning hammers during Hurricane Earl at Ocean Avenue, Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Chauncey Robinson Hurricane Earl By Mez @mezapixels from on Vimeo.

Get on the boat ! One of the coolest ways to look for waves is by boat, even if it’s a modest craft such as this. If scouting for waves via 4 x 4 vehicle is the coolest then doing it by sea increases the adventure factor by 10 fold. Putting out in Wilmington NC with Ben Bourgeois on the Whittle Family skiff headed for a beautiful stretch of barrier island and a beautiful Fall day of fun surf.

As I was about leave the Outer Banks in late October after spending six weeks there, a small low pressure system was pushing up off the coast my adopted home state of Florida. Not one to miss an opportunity to chase or have a good hang with a local crew I checked in with Ben Bourgeois for the Wrightsville Beach surf report and headed on down to meet up with him and Fletcher Whittle and family for one last hurrah to end my month and a half Carolina walk about. Could not have ended in a better fashion with some really great human beings. Ben B’s silky smooth power wraps are still Tour form and I never get tired of watching him surf or spending time with him.

The new “End Of The Road” and what used to be the stretch of coastal blacktop named highway 12 that takes you into Mirlo Beach and Rodanthe aka / S-Turns. Gone, but never to be forgotten by all who surfed here, you can see from this drone perspective that it’s not too far off , or hard to envision, a future breach from the Atlantic into Pamlico Sound. Definitely not an if, just when.

A pano photo POV from ground level of what used to be highway 12 at Mirlo Beach / S-Turns. One has to wonder what it will look here in 25 years ( or much less ) with the DOT road crews no longer attempting to stave off the inevitable and inexorable claw back from Ma Nature.

Central Forida’s Daya Mc Cart is representative of the many gromette’s up and down the East Coast lifting the performance bar for the ladies on a seemingly session by session basis. Daya ditches fins at Sebastian Inlet and it’s been real joy watching and chronicaling all these young female rippers progression.

The one that got away at Avon Pier, NC during the Hurricane Ian / Tropical sub low swell event.

Perry Creef ( center ) is the ESA’s event site set-up and breakdown man for all it’s Regionals and the Easterns champs itself. He kick ass at his job because he finds good people like Big Sonny ( at left ) and Juan to help him get it done and, imho, just don’t get thanked enough out side the support staff for their value. Thanks guys and you are all immensely appreciated wether you hear it or not.

Chauncey Robinson’s brute force, fins out bash at Sebastian Inlet during Hurricane Earl. One of the cool things I love about this place is the myriad of angles you can shoot from – off the jetty, from the upper deck of the snack bar, straight on from the beach, off the top of the bridge span or further up the beach to the north to get the river jetty as background. One of my favorites though is when you can frame a boat in the background – not easy to do timing and position-wise – and I actually repositioned myself to get this angle hoping Chauncey would do the rest. He did, perfectly.

Dallas Tolson is somebody I’d describe as part underground charger but with a definite reputation and name recognition as being a shithot surfer. He’s the quintessential east coast Everyman ripper – a local who shreds away in relative anonymity but deserving of any coverage he gets which is way too little in my opinion. “Dilly Dally” busting one at Avon Pier, NC for all the unknown surfers out there we’ve been relentlessly showcasing for over 30 years between ESM and now / @easternsurfmag on the ‘Gram.

Autumnal skies. Star Bar dune line on fire, Pea Island, North Carolina. This is how you end your day and Part One of my Fave Photos of 2002 gallery.