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There was no shortage of professional sporting events in the Newport area yesterday. Over at Fort Adams, the seven boats of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet departed on Sunday, headed for their next stop in Cardiff, Wales. Meanwhile, at Second Beach, the second annual Water Brothers Pro in Memory of Ryan Roberts found 40 professional surfers vying for bragging rights and a piece of the $5,000 purse.
The surfing event paid tribute to surfer Ryan Roberts who died after a courageous battle with cancer. The contest was originally scheduled for October 2017 but three weekends of flat water last fall convinced Water Brothers chief Sid Abruzzi to reschedule for a more promising two-week window in May. The promise paid off yesterday with a day full of rideable if a bit sloppy, waves at Second Beach.
The field for the Water Brothers Pro numbered 40 of the region’s best surfers including defending champion Rob Kelly of Cape May, New Jersey. The contest was run as a series of heats ending in a four-man final. Its field wasn’t all men, however. Rhode Island surfer Maria Barend impressed the judges and won her first heat and her mother Anna Barend also competed.
Hours of fog finally gave way to sun in the late afternoon but the sunshine was soon followed by a torrential downpour. The Water Brothers Pro went on through it all, one heat leading to another without delays. The weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the hundreds of people who crowded the beach, many of whom were still there at the end.
The final heat found Kelly, who put on an awesome show in his earlier heats, competing with equally strong local surfer Lucas Rogers. The heat also included Kai Nichols and Ted Ebhart. Both Nichols and Ebhart turned in strong performances throughout the day as well. In the end, though, it came down to the battle that many had anticipated between Kelly and Rogers and they did not disappoint, trading aerial maneuvers and stunning vertical turns like two heavyweight boxers trading blows in the ring.
The judge’s decision could not have been easy but in the end, the nod went to Rogers in what had to have been considered an upset given Kelly’s professional status and his standing as defending champion of the event. For his efforts, Rogers won $2,000 with $1,000 going to Kelly. The balance of the purse was split between the six semi-finalists.
Order of Finish:
- Lucas Rogers
- Rob Kelly
- Kai Nichols
- Ted Ebhart
- Chad Bruce (semi-finalist)
- Kanoa Wong (semi-finalist)