Florida girls win major Easterns surfing titles after Hurricane Teddy blows past N.C.
Two Brevard County 12-year-old girls scored their biggest surfing wins this past weekend at the Eastern Surfing Association's Easterns Championships in North Carolina, although Hurricane Teddy's powerful waves made them wait a few days.
Daya McCart of Indialantic won the Under-12 division, while Kylie Pulcini of Melbourne captured the Under-14 title at Nags Head's Jennette's Pier.
"She called me through the whole event," said Pulcini's coach, Todd Holland, a former ASP world touring pro. "She's one of the most surf-stoked positive kids. You can't keep the kid out of the water. She's only been surfing four years."
In the final, Pulcini beat out fellow Brevard surfer Abbie Yates for the top prize.
Pulcini, who won the National Scholastic Surfing Association Southeast Regionals the previous week, had learned to surf on a soft board at one of Holland's surf camps.
Getting support from her mom, dad and grandparents, surfing has been her focal point, especially after launching her career with a win at the ESA's Regional at Paradise Beach in Indialantic in 2019.
Now, Ron Jon surf shop has even hopped on board as one of her major sponsors, along with Lost Surfboards and an array of others.
Pulcini, like McCart, was cautious watching 12- to 15-foot seas early on, but once the waves subsided to about 5 to 6 feet after a few lay days, both were ready to charge.
"It was still overhead, but a lot of shoulder to head high," Pulcini said. "A lot of Florida girls are used to it, but not like it was Wednesday."
McCart, whose major sponsor is Billabong, won every heat leading up to the final, and her first wave in the final put her in first place and she led the rest of the way. She also made the finals in the Under-14s.
"We celebrated by going to get some fried shrimp at a local fishhouse," said McCart's dad, Jaden, who said the 13-hour drive (with stops) was all worthwhile.
"Everybody practiced social distancing ... the ocean's a good place to social distance," he said.
Other Central Florida surfers also fared well in the major event.
Logan Radd continued his comeback after being bitten by a shark last year, finishing second in boys Under-14s by .20 to Braeden Kopec of North Central Florida. Radd also placed third in boys Under-16s.
Yates finished second in girls Under-16s.
Anthony Passarelli finished second in Senior Men (40-49).
Teddy Witteman was second in boys Under-12s.
James Savage of Central Florida won the Sportsmanship Award.
For the first time, the NSSA will hold its national event at the same Nags Head location Oct. 20-25 after having had to cancel the usual Huntington Beach, Calif., event this summer due to COVID-19 concerns.
Several of these surfers have qualified for that event, including Pulcini, Daya McCart and her twin brother, Beckham.
Sounds like another long drive for Jaden and another plate of fried shrimp.
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