The third consecutive day of Junior Series competition at the World Surf League (WSL) Vans Pro Junior took place on the shores of Virginia Beach Wednesday as Round 3 was completed in its entirety. Punchy, 1-to-3-foot swell offered the competitors plenty to take advantage of and they were able to showcase some high-performance surfing, posting more excellent scores in the tricky conditions.
Noah Collins (USA) sparked the judges attention with his impressive backhand surfing once more. Posting the highest single-wave score of Round 3 with a 9.57, Collins continued to find the right spots on the beach and gauged into whatever came his way. The California native is carrying his momentum here in Virginia Beach, VA, nearly 3,000 miles from home, and surfing it like it's his home break.
"That really good wave came through that let me go top to bottom on the right and I was stoked -- it just kept throwing sections at me," Collins said. "I knew it was going to come so I just had to wait, try to be in the right spot, and go after it the best I could when it came. Looking over to the north I wanted to get two waves over there and move down to the south but I was stoked to just be in rhythm."
Collins is in fine form and now has his spot in the Quarterfinals locked, putting in the homework to be there. It's a relief for the 17-year-old to post excellent scores consistently -- something he's not used to.
"I didn't know where to sit in the beginning but I saw two zones in the last heat that were getting some consistent waves," Collins said. "I'm super stoked because normally going through one day and then into the next I can get messed up but it's going really well."
Another Junior in winning form, Stevie Pittman (USA), found two near-excellent scores in Round 3 to claim a second heat victory in the event. Pittman has a great board under his feet that is giving him the extra confidence to pick apart the 1st Street Jetty break -- topping an in-form Griffin Colapinto (USA) with an impressive 15.50 heat total.
"It feels really good to get another heat win with some fun waves still coming through," Pittman said. "I'm stoked to get some good scores and just have to keep it going - take it heat by heat. Using an epoxy board just gives you that little extra spunk through the turns. My board's pretty thick so it's nice to have more foam for this wave and feels good to get moving."
Living only a few hours south of Virginia Beach, Pittman is used to these smaller waves and can still produce some high-performance surfing. With a great support system behind, Pittman is looking to be a finals day threat as he prepares for the Quarters.
"I'm from North Carolina so I surf these conditions pretty much every day at home so I'm comfortable out there," Pittman said. "I'm ready to keep charging at my best and get set for the next heat. It's been nice to keep cruising with my family and friends that are here to keep relaxed."
Noah Schweizer (USA) unloaded on his backhand to post an excellent 8.33 after waiting for a score-worthy effort. Coming up from the Sunshine State of Florida, Schweizer also feels like he's surfing in his backyard line up of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and is posting the numbers required to keep winning heats.
"I was little sketched out at the beginning of that heat not really having a score and then got really lucky with that perfect little left," Schweizer said. "I'm super stoked to make it through and make another heat. It's just like back home so it feels nice to be comfortable out there and have a good board under my feet."
Schweizer is in the hunt to claim a North American Junior Tour win and this event will pay dividends if he's able to start his East Coast leg here in Virginia Beach with a big result.
"It's in the back of my mind but I just try not to think about it when I'm out there in a heat," Schweizer said. "I'm really just trying to cruise and see what happens - take it as it comes and just enjoy my time here. I'm excited to get into the Quarters and just hoping we get good waves for the last few rounds - it's really the biggest thing I'm concerned about now. You have to grind all you can but those bigger waves are where you're going to get the excellent scores."
Thursday's 7:30 a.m. call for a possible 8:00am Start will either put the Vans Pro Junior Quarterfinals, or the Vans Pro Men's QS3000 Round of 32 in the water.