In a thrilling showcase of last-minute heat wins and excellent scores, Asher Nolan (USA) claimed the 2015 WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Hurley and Pacifico. Starting from Round 1 and not dropping a single heat en route to victory, Nolan's backside attack was unwavering and could not be stopped. Taking down good friend and another surfer who was in-form the whole event, Brian Toth (PRI), Nolan thoroughly enjoyed the showdown.
"This is my third win at the Outer Banks and it's just been amazing to me," Nolan said. "All my scores had been coming on my backside but when I saw that left start to open up I just went on it -- haven't really been getting the scores on my forehand so I was stoked to get the seven on it. In the end I saw Brian get a wave but then I got one more that put the nail in the coffin right in front of him at the pier."
Taking down the event on the same board Michael Dunphy (USA) had won the 2014 WRV OBX Pro on, Nolan rode to victory once more. The Jacksonville Beach, FL local has been absent from the contest scene, helping as Hurley team manager and spending time with family, but he has won both events he's competed in this year.
"Every win always has that good feeling and this one especially feels great," Nolan said. "I put everything I had left into that heat and events like these are intense both mentally and physically -- you just feel drained and the reward is so amazing. I'm not in that mindset of competing every week, I love the long breaks and focusing on work outside of competing but it's great to get a win."
Making it to the Final was Toth's goal going into Nags Head, NC and his surfing throughout the event reflected that mindset. The Puerto Rican's road to the Final was not an easy one as he came up against an in-form Halley Batista (BRA) in the Semifinals and Ben Bourgeois (USA) in the Quarterfinals.
"It was an awesome event here but I really wanted to get a win back on Asher after he came down to Puerto Rico and took me out," Toth said. "But it was great, we were out there laughing with each other even though we both wanted to win. We're such good friends and I'm stoked that he won. I kind of blew it in the end with the priority and I think that was a big turning point."
"The craziest heat was probably with Batista so it was great to get a win over him," Toth added. "I've known him for years so that was nuts coming down to the end with him. We've had so many different conditions in this event and I think it came down to my preparation which really helped throughout the whole contest."
Batista won his Quarterfinal heat over Noah Schweizer (USA) in the dying seconds with a massive air worthy of a 7.27. However, a spot in the Final wasn't to be for Batista as he and Toth went blow for blow in an incredible Semifinal, his final wave falling just short of the required 6.40.
"The waves were working really well and to make a Semifinal is a great result for me," Batista said. "Just to get that air in the last minute and win the Quarterfinal was awesome. All the guys were cheering for me and helping me out, it was truly amazing to have that support from them and everyone on the beach was so nice after I came out of the water."
With Finals Day falling on his daughter's third birthday, Batista wanted to give her a first-place victory for a perfect present, but was thrilled with his time at Nags Head throughout the contest -- despite a malfunction in his equipment before the Semifinals.
"To feel connected to my board all week until I broke it in the Quarterfinal was something I'm really stoked on," Batista said. "Even my back up board was good but I just needed a little more to make the Final."
For the second year in a row, Kilian Garland (USA) fell just short of a Finals berth at the WRV Outer Banks Pro, dropping a close heat to Nolan in Semifinal 2. With one last opportunity as the final horn blew, Garland was up and riding in need of a 5.34 but just couldn't connect, earning a 5.00. Enjoying his time against Nolan, Garland will go forward with some lessons learned and a handful of contests in his future.
"I got a couple waves but I never really read them well and kind of played my cards wrong," Garland said. "It's all in good fun and it was great to surf against Asher. I just have to stay positive and look forward to some events where I can hopefully make some finals," Garland added. "I'll be heading back home to California for the Santa Cruz event and then over to Hawaii for Sunset, maybe try and do Brazil. It'll be great to get home for a bit and enjoy some fun waves there."