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.

Rob Kelly, defending champion, takes to the surf on Sunday

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:

  1. Lucas Rogers
  2. Rob Kelly
  3. Kai Nichols
  4. Ted Ebhart
  5. Chad Bruce (semi-finalist)
  6. Kanoa Wong (semi-finalist)

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.