Jake Buchler gave Sussex County a little presence at the 2005 Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) Easterns last month, and brought home some glory for himself as well. He picked up top-five finishes in two divisions this year, adding to a first-place finish in the 2004 Easterns.
Buchler, a 14-year-old from the Roxana area, typically summers in Fenwick Island, helping out his father, Brett, with the family Surf Sessions surf camp business. Summertime, he said he typically went out in the water every day.
Now back to class, the eight-grader at Selbyville Middle School is somewhat confined to weekend outings — and regional tournaments.
The Buchler family made the trip down to Buxton, N.C. for this year’s ESA Easterns (Sept. 18 through 24), and both Jake and his younger brother, Caleb, gave strong performances in competition. This was Caleb’s first tournament, and he made it through to the second round.
Jake went further, in longboard and bodyboard, in his last year as a Menehune (the term refers to the youngest group of competitors — literally, it’s a Polynesian reference to a mythical race of little people).
In 2004, he won Menehune Bodyboard — Buchler tacked on a second place finish in that division this year, and took fourth in Menehune Longboard.
He said he’d expected to do pretty well in the bodyboarding, but the longboarding trophy had come as a huge surprise.
According to Buchler, the waves had continued to build over the course of the event. “By the last day, it was eight-foot, plus,” he said. He positioned himself way outside — maybe a quarter-mile offshore — waiting for the perfect wave. His father said he’d started to consider calling him in, but then the set finally arrived. Buchler got one.
Already sponsored as a 14-year-old (his father’s Surf Sessions, plus K-Coast Surf Shop in Ocean City, Md. and Ashton Surfboards), Buchler said he started surfing at age six. He has his athletic pursuits at school (soccer, baseball), but said surfing was definitely a favorite.
And he seems suited to competition —but regarding a career in the sport, Buchler just shrugged, suggesting it was just too early to tell. He definitely planned to attend college before deciding on his professional path. “I’d love to continue surfing, but I don’t know about a pro career,” he said.