The Vans Pro Men's Qualifying Series (QS) 3000 event got underway today in fun conditions as the international field made their appearances on the shores of Virginia Beach, VA at the infamous 1st Street Jetty. Morning's first light revealed two-to-three foot, clean swell that competitors were able to dissect and post excellent scores on throughout the day. Despite a challenging afternoon low tide, many of the top seeds found their rhythm and were able to overcome the smaller waves.
The New Smyrna Beach, Florida, local, Noah Schweizer (USA), found a handful of lefts in a sea of rights and took full advantage - posting the highest heat total of the day with a 17.04. Finding two excellent scores, Schweizer was excited with the conditions and couldn't contain himself as he unleashed his backhand attack.
"It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be," Schweizer said. "It felt good to get those big scores so hopefully I can get some more. I was stoked to get those good lefts and open up on some turns that worked out well. Definitely went against the grain a little bit with all the rights coming through - I was expecting to go right the whole time so I was pretty stoked."
Schweizer looked unstoppable, comboing a stacked heat that saw four-time event champion Aaron Cormican (USA) and Victor Mendes (BRA) battle for an advancing position. After Mendes received an interference, Cormican was through to the next round. With the forecast showing some smaller days ahead, Schweizer remains ready to compete.
"It was a tough heat and I'm glad to make it through," Schweizer said. "I really hope we can get some of the same waves throughout the week that we got today - they really let us put up good scores. I'm looking forward to the next heat and I'm stoked to get back in the water."
Griffin Colapinto (USA) came into Virginia Beach, VA fresh off his maiden WSL victory at the Vans US Open Juniors Series, and has carried that momentum into his heats at the Vans Pro Men's QS 3000. Posting the day's highest single-wave score in the first heat of Round 2, Colapinto set the tone with an 8.83.
"It felt really good just to know I could get an excellent score right now," Colapinto said. "It was fun out there. I have a great board that works really well in these conditions and the waves were much better than I thought they would be. I expect it to just get harder with each heat so I just have to prepare and get ready to grind."
Colapinto continued to grind, winning his Round 3 heat later in the day with a 13.57 heat total despite the changing afternoon conditions. The California native was excited to make it through another heat and now has a place in Round 4 - even though he's battling an irritated knee.
"I was stoked to make it through this heat and to know I could do it in these harder conditions," Colapinto said. "It was pretty tough just with it being weaker and smaller, but I found some double-ups that provided a bit more power. I was stoked to see Jake (Kelley) finish off a good wave after I kicked out since we're both injured - I have a hurt knee and he has a bad ankle so it was great to see him get out of the heat as well."
After watching Kevin Schulz (USA) rip apart his Round 2 debut with an 8.77 and 6.67 backup, spectators wouldn't have guessed he missed nearly half a year with his own injury issues. Finding his rhythm, the San Clemente, CA, local posted an impressive 15.44 heat total and was in fine form throughout the heat.
"I haven't surfed a heat in six months due to injury so it feels great to get back in the water," Schulz said. "I was so stoked to make the heat - my board was working great out there in these conditions. I just want to come back for the next one, get into my focus, and hopefully do the same thing. I like sitting away from the pack, it's actually where I got my best wave."
Vans Pro action resumes tomorrow morning with a 6:30 a.m. Call for a 7 a.m. start. Live scoring will continue at www.worldsurfleague.com to keep you updated heat by heat.