Leif Engstrom of Montauk took down his fourth NYSEA Open title this year in sloppy small conditions in Long Beach, NY and snagged himself another big payday of $1,500. Leif has always been a standout in this event and this year was no different. With New York Surf Week in full effect, Leif narrowly hung onto his title for another year.
Out of the seven years running New York Surf Week, the NYSEA Open has always been a bit lucky. If you’re an east coaster in the summer you probably aren’t expecting many solid sized waves coming in July, but over the past couple of years New York has miraculously seen the some of the best waves during NYSEA’s waiting period. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year. With no solid forecast on the horizon, the contest director chose to run the competition on Thursday, July 14th with only small wind swell in the water.
The day started off gloomy, with not many waves on tap but with the sound of the horn, we were off. Competitors came from all over and struggled through the knee to waist high mushy surf in rounds one and two, hitting whatever sections they could find. By running a CT format for the event, every competitor was guaranteed to get a second chance in round two of the event if losing in the first. After round two and the first competitors were knocked out of the event, there was a little bump in the surf conditions with a stronger onshore wind putting a slight chop on the waves.
Round three knocked a few good surfers out as well, including local ripper Richie Bogart, Jake Stiles, Puerto Rico’s Gabriel Canals, and Dave Juan of Unsound Surf. “The conditions were pretty tough in the beginning of the day but with the south wind picking up mid day it gave us a little more to work with,” says last year’s winner Leif Engstrom.
The dark horse of the event Noah Wilson of Long Beach, NY found his way passed local CJ Mangio in the quarterfinal and found himself in the semis against Jeff Anthony. Because of some upsets in the earlier rounds, Leif Engstrom would face against another favorite to win the event, TJ Gumiela in the quarters. While Leif took to the air, TJ stuck to his rail and would end up exiting after a tight heat. Leif would then face Alex Fawess in the semi, who had been light on his feet and impressing spectators all day. Leif, sticking to his tactics, landed two air reverses and was into the final heat of the day against Jeff Anthony.
Before the final began, the event took a thirty-minute break in order to have an expression session for Surf4All participants who have stood out over the years amongst the rest, and really have built a bond with surfing. Our volunteers assisted in the water with the disabled participants, who put on an amazing and inspiring show for everyone who lined the shore. “By showcasing the skills of the athletes who have disabilities, it helps in such a big way to inspire others. There are really no barriers and obstacles that we can’t overcome,” states Co-Founder of Surf4All Cliff Skudin.
Immediately after the expression session the final heat was in the water. Black clouds filled the sky as a thunderstorm quickly approached the beach from the Northwest. Ten minutes into the final, a crack of thunder broke out of the sky so loud that it shook the bandstand. Contest director Will Skudin instantly called the event on hold as people scrambled for shelter. Although the storm passed rather fast, the contest would resume the following day.
At 7:45 am on Friday morning the judges and competitors restarted the 25-minute final heat in some cleaner but softer conditions than the previous day. Leif would again take flight landing some clean air reverses, leaving Jeff in need of a 6.50. In the dying minutes Jeff took off on an inside right-hander and launched a backside air, only to just come undone at the end. With that, the buzzer sounded and Leif was chaired up the beach for the fourth time in Long Beach, NY. For results check below.
- Leif Engstrom
- Jeff Anthony
- Alexander Fawess
- Noah Wilson