The World Surf League (WSL) Men's Qualification Series (QS) WRV Outer Banks Pro QS1000 presented by Hurley and Pacifico witnessed more heavy-hitting action today as each heat was packed with talent. Contesting Rounds 3 and 4, the Quarterfinals are set for man-on-man competition at Jennette's Pier -- and it's shaping up to be a spectacular finish.
Taking down the defending WRV Outer Banks Pro champion Michael Dunphy (USA), Noah Schweizer (USA) moves onto the Quarterfinals in dominating form. Topping another of his role models, Ben Bourgeois (USA), the 19-year-old was surfing beyond his years and is becoming an East Coast threat himself.
"Taking out Dunphy and those guys was nuts," Schweizer said. "I look up to both him and Benny. I'm always surfing with Dunphy and he's one of the best guys on the East Coast so I was stoked to be a part of that heat. I went into that one hoping to get more good waves and do all I could on them. I'm not looking to hold back anymore."
Clearly not holding back, posting the day's highest single-wave score of 8.23, Schweizer adjusted his strategy based on the tides and capitalized -- something the young Floridian will have to do in another stacked heat tomorrow.
"It was fun out there," Schweizer said. "Earlier you could connect to the inside but in the last heat all the scoring was on the outside. There's still a wave coming through so I was stoked to get a couple. I'm really stoked to make consecutive finals day and hopefully the waves keep coming my way. I'll stick with my plan of just staying busy and looking for the best waves going into tomorrow."
Showing the younger talent how to get the work done, Brian Toth (PRI) was in-form and looked unstoppable amidst a stacked Round 4 heat alongside last year's runner-up, Alan Donato (BRA) and an in-form Halley Batista (BRA). Winning his Round 3 heat earlier in the day, the 30-year-old was focused and adapted to the changing tides at Jennette's Pier.
"That was an intense one," Toth said after his Round 4 win. "I was watching it for a while before my heat and saw those bowls coming in closer to the pier. The last heat was all about patience for me and just picking off the right ones. The conditions and the ocean are always changing so you have to be ready for anything out here. If you're not ready for the change then you probably won't do well."
Into tomorrow's Quarterfinals, the Puerto Rican looks poised and ready to make a run at the Finals with his strategy in place. Though the heats will only get more challenging with the talent around him, Toth is set for the task at hand.
"These guys are air masters so I'm stoked to make it through," Toth said. "I paddled out at a way different spot in my last heat so I was almost psyching myself out a bit. The biggest difference in my heats was the higher tide in my first heat. I was super south of the pier, but as the tide filled in I knew it was going to bowl up more - being on my backhand I could stay in the pocket more and throw it up a couple times."
Last year's semifinalist, Kilian Garland (USA), finds himself in another WRV Outer Banks Pro Finals day and is searching for the elusive Finals appearance. Garland has been under the radar at this event, progressing through each heat and is elated for a chance to redeem himself.
"It's been fun out there but a little hard to navigate," Garland said. "If you get the right one it'll give you a chance to build speed and nail a few turns. I'm just going to play it by ear tomorrow and see what the conditions are doing to see if I change anything or just keep to my plan. I really just want to better my result from last year and have a good time here - I'd be stoked to go out on top."
Following up Garland in second place and advancing to the Quarterfinals, Evan Thompson (USA) has been in great form here -- culminating into a Finals-day slot. Thompson has adjusted to the changing conditions and finds himself in the right place at the right time, whether it's by happenstance or not.
"I always just want to be in the best position for sets," Thompson said. "If I was sitting to the north or south, I just wanted to be sure I was the deepest guy out there. You never want to be the middle guy or the wide guy because you're just going to miss out. I pretty much just kept moving up and down the beach with all the waves coming through -- some are tempting but you really had to be patient."
Matched up with Thompson in Quarterfinal Heat 4, fellow Jacksonville Beach, FL local Asher Nolan (USA) continued to showcase his formidable backhand, enjoying the waves on offer. Winning both his Round 3 and 4 heats today, Nolan adds to the heavy-hitters that make up tomorrow's matchups.
"There were some good sets out there and it felt like there was some more energy," Nolan said. "A lot of them were double ups so it was hard to be in the right spot but you just had to find the best positioning. My best wave was a mid-size one and it just had a wall to work with that I could hit about six times on my backhand. It was a twenty-five minute heat so you just had to be patient."
"Tomorrow's heat with Evan will be great. It's all in good fun here and I'm loving it," Nolan added. "I'll be stoked to earn some money but I'm just going out there to enjoy it and surf with some great people. It'll be an exciting day for sure."
A 10:30am Call will be made for a possible 11:00am Start for the WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Hurley and Pacifico Quarterfinals. Tune in live at www.outerbankslive.com to see who will claim this year's coveted title.