You should’ve seen her a month ago: spinning frantically, building steam over days as she set her sights on Buxton’s lighthouse. No, not Hurricane Isabel. We’re talking about ESA Executive Director Kathy Phillips.

When the aforementioned Category Two tropical system crashed into the Outer Banks on September18 — just three days before most prestigious amateur event in East Coast surfing was scheduled to start — Phillips took the time to check on her North Carolina friends and loved ones, then immediately began figuring out how to turn a federal disaster area back into a contest zone.

“Right after the storm, we were still trying to stay on schedule,” Phillips {{{recalls}}}. “But within 24 hours it became obvious that wasn’t an option. Then it went to do we repackage as two separate events? Move it someplace else? But everyone really wanted to see this thing go back to Buxton and run all at once — everyone. And soon it was clear from the local community, “We’re open for business, come on down.”

As a result, the seven-day contest shifted back three weeks to kick off this Saturday morning, October 25, starting with the adult divisions, which will finish on Monday. Then, come Tuesday, the youth divisions — featuring the prestigious Boys, Girls, Junior Men and Junior Women categories — begin powering toward Friday’s grand finale. In between, the normal nighttime festivities will go as usual — except for a special Halloween awards banquet to keep the kids happy — but don't be fooled: this contest is all business.

“I was surprised we had so few dropouts,” says Competition Director Brian Broom of the {{{600}}}-person competitive marathon. “We lost one heat of Menehunes, one of Juniors, and that’s it.

“The biggest change really is the site’s about 75 yards farther south than normal because that’s where the best break is,” Broom continues.” But Easterns is the end to a season that started over a year and a half ago. So these kids want to finish.”

With the biggest titles in East Coast amateur surfing on the line — not to mention the final ESA Allstar trials in the mix — it’s no wonder this week’s setting up to be yet another exciting chapter in a three-decade history, one where not a single event has been cancelled. They may have had to shuffle once or twice before. And in 1970, flat conditions stopped the event halfway through. But not run it at all?

“That was never an option,” says Phillips. “We knew we had to run this thing no matter what — that’s the Easterns, that’s the ESA, and that’s the East Coast.”