SHIFTING SANDS: As the 2006 Easterns crowns a new set of adult champs, the ESA considers changes venues

Events Held: Ladies Longboard Final; Men's Longboard Final; Masters Longboard Final; Legends Longboard Final; Women's Final; Ladies Final; Masters Final; Senior Men Final; Senior Men's Final; Grandmasters Final; Legends Final; Grand Legends Final; Men's Final
Conditions: Waist to chest high, clean to semi-clean
Nature's Call: Hey y'all, I'm just getting started.
Predicted: Boxes of tropical punch for the upcoming youth divisions

It's all because of a radio interview. One question, really. Early yesterday, 99.1 The Sound's Gary Smith asked Eastern Surfing Association Competition Director Brian Broom about the possibility of the Easterns moving away from the Hatteras Lighthouse next year. Brian's response? "I'd say we've gone from it being a possibility to a probability."

Of course, Broom's been hinting for years that federal laws banning banners, scaffolding and vendors from national parks would force them to move the East Coast's biggest event from Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but he'd never broadcasted the idea live over the local airwaves with a firm exit date. Within hours area merchants were screaming down phone lines to various decision makers in the ESA and National Park Service, so loudly that ESA Executive Director Debbie Hodges has a meeting with the Department of Interior and NC Tourist Bureau this week to see if they can come to an agreement.

With the Easterns celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2007, nobody wants to see the contest move. Unfortunately, the National Park's no-logo clause hogties the ESA in terms of sponsorship as they fight for company dollars with none of the high-profile contest site publicity of a big national event. With other towns literally begging to host, even the most diehard traditionalists now recognize that a contest this huge needs runs on more than just history. As Southern New Jersey Director Joe Grotolla notes, "In the past, there were people who'd say keep it here it all costs, but each year it grows smaller. But I will say that everyone agrees if we can run an event in Hatteras that's on par with the nation's other big events, there's no other place we'd rather have it."

Fortunately, this afternoon at 3pm, local members of the Park Service came down to meet with Hodges and Brian Broom to hear the grievances firsthand. No decisions were made, but Superintendent Mike Murray listened, asked for a written list of requests - even offered some suggestions — and before leaving offered the following, somewhat positive assessment. "We're bound by federal law on these rules regarding commercial endeavors on park service land. However, some gray areas are local judgment calls and I've seen other, bigger events occur in other national parks. We're willing to consider options that protect the public's interest and keep the ESA organizers happy." It was perhaps the friendliest meeting all day; at least compared to what went down in the water.

HEAT OF THE DAY:The Adult divisions opened strong, as the day's first final — the Masters — proved to be the most exciting, even if the waves weren't the best. In the slightly mushy and sectioning lefts, solid running waves were hard to find, even for a crew of seasoned vets like returning champ Jason Motes and repeat finalists such as {{{Jimmy}}} Blumenfeld and Brian Carpenter. No, it was recent USA Masters Champion and Outer Banks local Pat McManus - surfing his first Easterns since 1990 - and former Eastern Masters champ and NJ powerhouse Pat Emery who found the more lined up sets. While Emery detonated a couple trademark backside snaps per wave, McManus mixed flow and flair from the outside in, even busting an aerial as his first maneuver way out the back. Why'd he do so well? And why the return to contest life? There's one answer for both: boards. "I've been shaping my own for a few years," he explains, "but it's hard to get the name out there, so this helps."

PERFORMER OF THE DAYAdam McGill. Whoever said it's a man's world, didn't see today's Men's heat. More wind, fewer waves, the four-man final that included Jeremy Stanley, Wayne Thompson and Ricky Palluch were struggling to find even a good section to work with. Everyone except McGill, who picked up 7.5 for one marathon mix of turns and floaters from the First Groin to the sand. In the process the Jax Beach boy continued a longstanding North Florida legacy of blue collar, blue-ribbon winners that includes such past champs as Jay Gordon and Jason Venn. McGill's main sponsor is also his employer - Bryan Lendy Custom Homes - and they've gotten their money's worth so far as Adam won the North Florida district and he southeast regionals, and he surfed on the Sunrise Surf Shop team that took down the whole country in the Quiksilver Surf Shop challenge in Oceanside last week. And he's not done yet. "I'm looking for two titles," he explains. "Open starts this afternoon." SHOCKERSShe's tall. She's blonde. And you've probably never heard of her - unless you've competed against her. That's because it was Tiffany Layton's first Easterns. But the women who've faced Layton in North Florida events this year are well aware of her talents, including Central Florida All-Star Ashley Francis. Perhaps that's why it was even more shocking to see Francis on the losing end of their Women's final match-up. Admittedly, it was a close call, until Layton lit-up a long set wave with four minutes left and Francis fell on a solid opportunity to answer. So, while Tiffany endzone-danced her over to a heroine's welcome under the NFL tent, Ashley could only shrug her shoulders. "If I'd only pulled that second turn," she sighed. "But at there were a lot of guys shooting so at least I may have gotten a good photo out of it."

PERFORMER OF YESTERDAYThe ESA and NPS weren't the only surprise lovebirds this year. This year's big Casanova is
Buddy Evans, who exited the water last night after his Masters heat, dropped to one knee, and proposed to his girlfriend {{{Morgan}}} Shirley. "I was gonna wait," says Evans competitor. "But I figured I may get put out and miss my chance." Lucky for him - Evans advanced to the semi-main only to miss the final when he stood up after the horn. But we're still betting his former champ will call 2006 his best result ever in 17 years of contests.

QUOTABLES:"You mean after all these years setting up tents and running heats they'll consider letting me hold an event here?" - Brian Broom on the news that the National Park Service would hear pleas for a bigger contest site

"Everyone was saying it was gonna stay offshore, but this old lady at the fish store told me it would go south at 5:15 last night. I felt the first gusts and checked my watch. It was 5:25." - Pat Emery espousing the quality of local knowledge over online forecasts.

"I gotta go beat this sign up. Then I'll feel a little better." Men's runner-up Jeremy Stanley


Tracy Derbin
Marty Mentzer
Jenny Brown
Beth Schub
Natalie Glenn
Mindy Fitzpatrick

Ty Roach
TJ Crum
Jason Motes
Joey Elliot
Carmen Garcia
Billy Webster

Tom O'Brien
John Barnes
Mike Paugh
Joe Gillen
Bill Whatley
Scott Holmes

Glenn Tanner
David Sledge
Bill Willem
Bill Roach
Tom Leonik
Steve Delaney

Tiffany Layton
Ashley Francis
Maria Kuzmovich
Sarah Dodds
Sindia Sosdian
Lauren Bell

Jo Pickett
Terry Green
Jenny Brown
Kate Whatley
Mindy Fitzpatrick
Angela Ray

Pat McManus
Pat Emery
Jimmy Blumenfeld
Brian Carpenter
Jason Motes
Dustin Estes

`1. Dave Hoag
2. Mark Newton
3. Jim Berger
4. Art Lueck
5. Joe Gillen
James Kathe

Glenn Tanner
Joe Grottola
Bill Whatley
Lenny Nichols
Paul Pallito
Jim Miller

David Sledge
Bill Roach
Bill Helmuth
Ray Pimental
Bob Freeman
Ron Sapp

John "Chummer" McCranels
R. Robert Gillender

Adam McGill
Jeremy Stanley
Wayne Thompson
4. Ricky Palluch