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ON THE EDGE: Ozone Classic runs smoothly

August 8, 2013

Photo: Parker Hall

It is not possible to imagine a surfing contest running off as perfectly as the 2013 Ozone Classic.
There was great organization, cloudless sunny skies, warm air and water temperatures, and excellent surf.
The site was Cisco Beach, one of the premier surf beaches located on the exotic island of Nantucket, located off the New England coastline. This year’s event raised funds to build a new playground on the island. With many local businesses donating time and money, over 1000 surfers and residents participated in the activities. Almost 100 surfers from all over the northeast competed for bragging rights and some big prizes.
This event was the result of several months’ of preparation, led by John Jordin and Melanie Kotalac, two of the local surfers who live on Nantucket year round. This is the third year that the Eastern Surfing Association-South New England District has encouraged members to participate and fully rated the contest.
As in previous years, the surfing competition was of the highest caliber, especially in the Open Men’s division.
Surfers had to battle through 8 rounds of heats before getting to the final, held during the best possible surf at mid-tide.
With solid shoulder high sets pouring in, the finalists had plenty to work with, and there were several nine-point rides given by the panel of judges.
It was a dramatic backside tail slide and high-extended floater into the shore break that gave Peter Osley the nod over Chuck Barend for the win.
Barend had one high point ride, but took off at the end of the competition area amidst a sea of surfers, and judges only saw a portion of the entire ride, as he surfed his way out of the pack. A hard driving Quinn McCrystal got two great rides but it was not enough to overtake Barend or Osley.
The Men’s Longboard division was also quite competitive, with some outstanding performances in the ideal conditions.
By the time the final arrived, both the lefts and rights were easily makeable. In a very close heat, Matt Hill beat out Miles Hamilton with a great nose ride and switch foot for the win. Hamilton milked two long lefts to top Gary Kohner for second place.
Longtime Nantucket local ripper Rachael Powers topped a tough Women’s Open Longboard division final over another top local, Mya Kotalac.
Powers has always had a knack for finding the best waves of the heat and this day was no different. Kotalac matched Powers’ moves, but the two best waves of the heat went to Powers. With Melanie Kotalac taking the third spot, it was an all-locals sweep of the top three in that final.
There was plenty of wipe outs and exciting action in the newly created Stand-Up Paddle Board Division, which is now a rated ESA category in competition.
Some of the biggest sets of the day came through during the semi-finals and finals, but the afternoon onshore winds made take-offs quite the challenge.
Gary Kohner managed to find two big rights with clean faces, to carve his way into the first place over Rick Kotalac. With David Iverson taking third, this also became an all-locals sweep of the top three.
Special mention should be made of the only female competitor in the event, Sally Bates Hall, who got some hoots from the beach with a couple of steep take-offs in the semi-finals, managing to keep control of the giant SUP she was riding.
Other outstanding performances included Boys winner Luke Johnson, who won every heat and the final with some great little barrel rides.
Spencer Bridges continued his domination in the Junior Men’s division, as he also won every heat, including the final round over a determined Corran Moore. He topped that off with some great hot-dogging moves to win the Junior Longboard division.
Ed Barend slid into two great backside lefts to top the Boys Longboard final, and his sister, Maria got the best wave of the heat, to win the Girls final.
The next ESA competition is Round No. 2 of the Narrow River Stand-Up Paddleboard Race Series, which will take place Sunday at 10 a.m. at Narrow River Kayak in Narragansett.
Sign-ups are from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and non-ESA members can race. This race will be longer than the first one, with a 4.5 mile course.
On August 17th, the second summer surfing contest will take place at Second Beach in Middletown. Sign-ups are from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and non-ESA members can sign up on the beach. For more information, contact bicsurf@hotmail.com.

Peter Pan is a freelance columnist for Southern Rhode Island Newspapers.

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