NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - The National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) recently held their annual East Coast Championships, at The Inlet in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
According to a release, every seasoned surfer knows New Smyrna for two things— it has some of the East Coast's most consistent waves, and it is also known as the shark bite capital of the world. The competition that was scheduled for April 8-11 had to be extended another day due to intense weather and some close encounters with sharks.
Randy Townsend, the NSSA Northeast Conference director, traveled from his home, in Long Beach Island, to New Smyrna Beach, like he does every year to watch his Northeast kids compete on the main stage. This year, though, Townsend said he was particularly excited to see the girls compete, commenting, “The level of surfing among the young girls that are coming up is getting really exciting to watch.”
The girls from South Jersey certainly delivered.
Two sisters from Ocean City, Brynn and Mia Gallagher, as well as Callie Duff, from Margate, surfed their way through many heats to make “Finals Day” on April 12.
Mia Gallagher, 15, who was defending her 2020 East Coast title, missed the 2021 win by a narrow margin, finishing second in the Open Women's Final. She also made the finals in Explorer Women's, with a fourth-place finish.
Brynn Gallagher, 13, put together some solid surfing to make finals in three different divisions. She finished in a close second, in both Open Girls and then, again, in Open Super Girls.
Those too-close-for comfort second-place finishes gave Brynn Gallagher just the fuel she needed to come back with a vengeance in the Explorer Women's final.
Within two minutes of the start of the heat, Gallagher dropped a nine-point ride, which set the pace for an aggressively surfed heat and her ultimate win. Executive Director of The National Scholastic Surfing Association Janice Aragon, who has been watching Brynn Gallagher develop over the last year or so, said, “There was just no way that Brynn Gallagher was leaving that beach without a title.”
The Gallagher sisters were not the only two South Jersey surfers to make the podium.
Duff finished fourth overall in Explorer Longboard, and Stephen Zakroff placed third in Explorer Men's. Cooper Jewell, also from Ocean City, surfed in both the Explorer and Open Boys divisions, and he made the semi-final in Open Boys.