OCEAN CITY – The Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) Delmarva District will be under the guidance of a new but familiar face this year, as local surfer and businessman Chris Vaxmonsky takes on the position, while former ESA Delmarva Director Art Baltrotsky takes on a new role across the world in Australia.
Seasoned Ocean City surfer Chris Vaxmonsky will be at the helm this year, guiding the local chapter of the ESA through another successful year of surf competitions, growth and ocean and shoreline preservation.
The non-profit ESA, founded in 1967, is the largest amateur surfing organization in the world, with over 11,000 members. The local Delmarva District of the ESA has grown significantly over the years and is now the ESA’s third largest district, with over 625 members.
For nearly 25 years, Jeff and Kathy Phillips worked tirelessly to build the Delmarva District, which is centered in Ocean City and carries out its mission and programs across the State of Maryland and along the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
Art Baltrotsky has held the director position for the past five years. Vaxmonsky credits Baltrotsky with expanding the district from 150 members to 625 members in his five years as director.
“He also took the contest schedule from six to 10 contests [per year], so he’s increased that probably 60 percent,” said Vaxmonsky, who is looking forward to the full schedule of competitions that are set for this year, including the upcoming Quiet Storm Delaware State Surfing Championships, to be held on June 14 and 15.
“It kind of took me by surprise, the take-over,” said Vaxmonsky, who had originally anticipated learning the ropes this summer as co-director. But when Baltrotsky got an opportunity to move to Australia with his girlfriend while she attends graduate school, the position of co-director quickly turned to director as Baltrotsky packed his bags and his surfboards to move across the world.
“Our visas are for 15 months, so we’ll be here at least that long,” said Baltrotsky this week, phoning in from Australia yesterday.
Although he will be across the world, Baltrotsky will continue with his Ocean City work, maintaining all of his graphic design clients while away.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, I just never thought it would happen. It’s really amazing here, it’s beautiful, it’s warm and the people are really, really friendly,” said Baltrotsky, who just moved into his new place, which sits conveniently near what he considers to be one of the best surf spots in the world.
When Jeff Phillips retired from the position nearly five years ago, Baltrotsky said he actually hoped Vaxmonsky would be up for the job.
“I wanted Chris to take over then, but he was just too busy with his kids and with work,” he said.
Baltrotsky stepped up to the plate instead, taking control of the cumbersome, volunteer position for the past five years.
“You need someone who really knows the ESA, you need someone who can devote hundreds of hours of time to this,” said Baltrotsky, who assured that Vaxmonsky is the perfect man for the job. “Chris is awesome, he is just incredible. He can handle it definitely. He knows what has to be done and he knows all the rules, really better than anyone. He’s the perfect person to do it.”
Although the job will be somewhat overwhelming for Vaxmonsky at first, he is certainly not foreign to the ins and outs of the ESA or the local surf community.
“I’ve been involved with the ESA for 25 years,” explained Vaxmonsky, who has worked as both an ESA judge and as a judge on the professional circuit. “I have always been heavily involved with all of the ESA directors.”
Vaxmonsky will also be getting help from another fellow surfer, Chris Makibben, whom he is currently training to take on the role of co-director.
“He’s a super-dedicated surfer. He loves the sport and he travels all over to surf,” said Vaxmonsky.
Vaxmonsky hopes to submit Mikibben for the position of co-director by mid summer to early fall, at which point a board of 55 directors will be charged with voting yes or no to the nomination.
“It’s a little bit of a steep process,” said Vaxmonsky, who explained that the main task is making yourself a familiar face amongst all of the directors, a process that he also went through.
As for his future as director of the ESA Delmarva District, Vaxmonsky has both major and minor goals for the future.
“This year, first and foremost, we will be maintaining the status quo,” he said.
Maintaining the goals and events originally set forth by Baltrotsky will be a major initiative for the current surf season as Vaxmonsky makes his transition.
Two features that will be added to the local district will be a Delmarva All-Star Team and an Open Champion Award, which will be a comprehensive award for total points in a year rather than contests won.
The Delmarva All-Star team will also focus on community service, through the ESA’s partnership with the Surfrider Foundation.
“The ESA stresses building character through competition and through community service,” said Vaxmonsky. “Hopefully we are changing the stereotype of what the typical surfer is.”