The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) is pleased to announce that it will be offering two new Open Womens divisions for 2024. An Open Womens Shortboard and Open Womens Longboard will be featured at ESA local, regional and Easterns events.
“This is an exciting opportunity for ESA’s female competitors of all ages and skill levels to surf against one another,” ESA’s executive director Michelle Sommers said. “These will be in addition to them continuing to surf in their own age divisions.”
The ESA has always offered Open Shortboard & Open Longboard divisions that were available for all ages and genders to surf against one another. However, many female competitors didn’t register for these divisions as they didn’t want to surf against the guys. Offering the women their own Open divisions will give them an opportunity to surf in a format that is comparable to the WSL QS events that many of them are now surfing in. Open Mens Shortboard and Longboard divisions will be offered for the guys.
The ESA partnered with the WSL nearly five years ago to create a pathway for East Coast amateur surfers to work towards getting to the next level, which includes these WSL QS events.
“The ESA will continue to evolve and progress to be able to offer its members the best surfing experience they can get in order to learn the basics that will take them to where they want to go wherever that may be,” Sommers added. “After all, everyone begins their competitive surfing experience in the ESA if they are from the East Coast.”
Five-time ESA Easterns champion, two-time USA national champion, former ESA All-Star, All-Star mentor and now mom of two young boys Haley Stephens is thrilled about the announcement.
“The East Coast has a history of producing hard working, incredibly talented female surfers, and this next up-and-coming generation is no exception,” Stephens said. “I am confident the addition of the Open divisions will offer exciting performances, allow female athletes to gain even more competitive time in the water, and encourage the continued progression of women’s surfing as a whole.”
ESA All-Star coach Jason Motes knows that these Open divisions will be one of the most competitive and exciting to watch.
“I’m excited to see the ESA pushing the progression of amateur surfing once again with implementing these Open Womens divisions,” Motes said. “This is another way to push each competitor by surfing with those outside their age group.”
“I am so stoked on Open Womens being added as a division,” ESA All-Star Maggie Demsey adds. “This will create healthy competition with women of all ages and ultimately progress women’s surfing on the East Coast.”
ESA All-Star Ayla Stutzman is working her way up the rankings in two recent WSL QS events as a standout East Coast performer.
“I’m so excited for the Open Womens Shortboard because it gives every girl a shot at being the winner of the whole competition instead of just one division,” Stutzman said. “These Open heats will help ESA competitors who may be considering a WSL QS event become more comfortable with going against many different competitors.”
“Now we can have a true East Coast Womens champion,” ESA All-Star and 2023 Easterns Jr Women U18 champion Carlie Eastwood concluded.