The World Surf League (WSL) now looks toward the East Coast in preparation for the Menâ€™s Qualifying Series (QS) Vans Pro in Virginia Beach, VA August 23 â€“ 28 and the WRV Outer Banks Pro on the shores of Nags Head, NC August 31 â€“ September 4. The Vans Pro Menâ€™s QS3000, as well as Junior Pro, return to the schedule alongside the illustrious East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC), which is in its 54th consecutive year of running — the longest-running event in North America and second only to Bells Beach in the world.
Following the Vans Pro, the Menâ€™s QS continue down the coast to Jeannetteâ€™s Pier on the shores of Nags Head, NC for the WRV Outer Banks Pro QS1000. Joining the WSL schedule in 2014, the event title has remained on the East Coast with Virginia Beachâ€™s Michael Dunphy (USA) winning in 2014, after claiming the Vans Pro just a few days prior, and Jacksonville Beach, FL native Asher Nolan (USA) earning a win last year.
Both Virginia Beach and the eco-friendly Jeannetteâ€™s Pier of Nags Head offer contestable beachbreaks that are open to every type of swell. With hurricane season in full effect on the East Coast, anticipation is building to see what the ocean will deliver throughout the event windows. Dunphy will have his eyes set on a second Vans Pro title to earn maximum points toward qualification and make a charge in the second half of the season.
â€œWinning two years ago was huge, I didnâ€™t realize there were that many people backing me and that was a highlight of my career,â€ Dunphy said. When youâ€™re around the world competing, itâ€™s pretty much just you against the ocean and not many means of support. Coming here with everyone around me, itâ€™s a different kind of feel and itâ€™s great to have that once a year.â€
â€œI definitely feel like Iâ€™m a better surfer now then I was two years ago,â€ Dunphy added. â€œIâ€™ve just had a rough patch of results lately and and this year has been frustrating. I’ve had some close heats not go my way so I really want to do well in one event just to get that mindset and rhythm back. Itâ€™s just a matter of finding that rhythm and going from there, which is the hardest part, but I want it.â€
Three-time WRV Outer Banks Pro Champion Asher Nolan (USA) will return to defend his title and also compete in the Vans Pro QS3000. Nolan may have stepped away from the full-time QS grind, but is one to watch on his home coast. He’s staying in tune with the ocean while helping todayâ€™s youth progress their surfing and still keeping his own skills razor sharp.
â€œIâ€™m super excited to be going back to Outer Banks, even if I wasnâ€™t competing I think Iâ€™d still go back because itâ€™s just a good time,â€ Nolan said. â€œECSC is always such a good event in the competitive sense with all the bigger names out, then going to Outer Banks is great to see all the up-and-coming guys really shine. I like to help guide those kids and try to give them understanding, which in turn has helped me become better at surfing heats while coaching them. Iâ€™m focusing more on heats and watching more than I ever have so itâ€™s really cool to get in that mindset.â€
One of the up-and-coming talents competing in the Vans Pro Junior event is current North America Junior Tour No. 1 Kei Kobayashi (USA). Kobayashi faltered in the Semifinals of the Vans US Open Junior event and is looking to strengthen his lead once again on the shores of Virginia Beach — having already won the Ron Jon Vans Junior Pro in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
â€œItâ€™s very important for me to get a huge result in Virginia Beach with wanting to win the North America series this year,â€ Kobayashi said. â€œIâ€™m really excited to do the QS as well because there wonâ€™t be too much pressure with all my focus going toward the junior event. My equipment will be really similar to Florida and I just want to stay busy in the water, get that motivation, and drive, even on the lay days. I canâ€™t wait to surf against some of the best again.â€
North America Tour Manager Brian Robbins knows the importance of these events returning to keep an East Coast leg intact for both the QS and Junior Tours. With 4,000 points to be had between the two QS events and 1,000 points toward the Junior Tour, there is plenty on offer.
â€œThis is a time of year we always look forward to with the rich history of competition in both Virginia Beach and Outer Banks,â€ Robbins said. â€œWith the Vans Pro being a 3,000-point event, it really brings out a comprehensive lineup of talent including some of the Top 10 QS guys for spectators to get a glimpse at a high level of surfing. Heading into these events, thereâ€™s always the factor of the unknown with what the Atlantic Ocean will deliver being hurricane season, so weâ€™re always on our toes. All involved are getting excited as we get closer to opening day and it should be another great year for everyone.â€
The Vans Pro Men’s QS3000 and Junior Men’s event window begins August 23 – 28, followed directly by the WRV Outer Banks Pro Men’s QS1000 August 31 – September 4.
Go to www.WorldSurfLeague.com for more information on the upcoming events, or download the WSL App to have all the updates on your mobile device.