The World Surf League (WSL) Vans Pro Men's QS3000 and Vans Pro Junior crowned champions today as Kanoa Igarashi (USA) earned a massive win in the Men's Qualification Series (QS), gaining a critical 3,000 points. The Huntington Beach, CA native now sits at no. 3 on the QS above Championship Tour (CT) surfers Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Filipe Toledo (BRA). Igarashi was in excellent form throughout the event and has continued his phenomenal year of competition.
"It's crazy having such a good year," Igarashi said. "I haven't been getting wins but a lot of good results, and I was just missing that win. I'm so stoked with how it's all panned out and those 3,000 points are crucial for me - it's my first QS win this year and goes into my top three results for points. It was my goal to get a result here that I could keep at the end of the year and I'm so thankful it worked out."
Igarashi kept to his winning game plan, earning victories in all but his Round 4 heat, and could not be stopped. Earning the contest's highest single-wave score of a 9.40 and heat total, 17.40, the 17-year-old was an event favorite through each round.
"I just tried to do the same thing every heat," Igarashi said. "I wanted to be solid in my surfing and not go beyond what I could do. It really just felt like everything was going my way and when you have that feeling you usually get a good result. I've been coming here for four years now so Virginia Beach is a pretty special place for me."
Earning runner-up, Noah Schweizer (USA) looked to be the only one capable of thwarting Igarashi throughout the week. The New Smyrna Beach, FL local was posting headline-worthy efforts day in and day out, gaining 2,250 points heading to the WRV Outer Banks Pro next week.
"It felt really good to be surfing in both divisions on Finals day here," Schweizer said. "I wish I could've gotten a few more better waves. Definitely had a few good ones but Kanoa was just on another level this week - he was absolutely ripping this event. I'm just going to take this momentum to the Outer Banks and hopefully there will be some fun waves there for us to compete in."
Schweizer was doing double duty where he claimed an =5th place result in the Vans Pro Junior, giving him plenty of opportunity to get the line-up and his equipment dialed in for the main event.
"It felt great to have this board working all week," Schweizer said. "I've ridden it a lot and I tried to get the best waves for it since that's where all the top scores were going to come from. I didn't expect this much coming into this event, I just wanted to make a couple heats and I'm super stoked to get second place - I can't complain much looking back on both of these events."
Making the final an international affair, Oney Anwar (IDN) of Indonesia and Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) of South Africa showcased their talents for the local crowd of Virginia Beach, VA. De Vries earned third place with Anwar close behind him in fourth and the Indonesian couldn't have been happier with his result.
"It feels amazing to make a final here and to be able to surf with all my friends in these heats," Onwar said. "I've been injured the last few months so this is a great starting point for me to get back into some QS events. I'm excited to earn some good points here and now I'll go to North Carolina to try and get a result there - I'm just so stoked being here in the states with everyone being so nice and seeing them rip out here."
For the Vans Pro Junior event, Seth Moniz (HAW) claimed his second win of the 2015 Junior Series in North America and extends his no.1 ranking for the Hawaiian Region. Moniz found himself in a stacked final heat including Gabriel Farias, good friend Griffin Colapinton (USA), and Stevie Pittman (USA) and showed the judges just enough to claim the victory. .
"That was such a heavy heat and I'm so stoked to come out with a win," Moniz said. "I had a gnarly battle with one of my best friends, Griffin, and it was funny we were both just playing board games in my room but when you put the jersey it's a competition between you and your brothers - the sportsmanship here is great. It's awesome to earn another first since I have one already, a second, and a fourth place so I'm stoked on the season so far."
Earning a second place, Colapinto earned valuable points toward his North American Junior Series ranking. Also working toward earning a spot at the World Junior Championships this year, Colapinto knows what he has to do and sees this result as a learning experience.
"I really wanted to win but I'm still stoked on second," Colapinto said. "I just want to keep getting better and really give myself a chance to win the North America series, so that's one of my goals going forward. I don't feel like I did much wrong, maybe should've been on Seth's waves (laughs), but it feels good knowing I can make these Finals."
Turning in his best result of the year, Pittman took away plenty of positives with a fourth place finish in the Vans Pro Junior Final. The North Carolina native put on an impressive showcase of surfing throughout the week and will now get set for the WRV Outer Banks Pro in his home state.
"It feels good even though it's a little bittersweet not surfing my best heat," Pittman said. "Still pretty stoked with making it to the Final and it was a really fun event here. I tried my hardest in every heat and that's all you can really do. I'll head to Outer Banks Tuesday and prepare for that event - I'll take that one heat by heat and have fun, see where it goes."