Vans Pro

Men's QS Sets Eyes on East Coast

Andrew Nichols

Vans Pro sunrise The Men's QS will trade a West Coast sunset for an East Coast sunrise for the next major event on their schedule. - WSL

All attention turns toward the East Coast in preparation for the Men's Qualifying Series (QS) Vans Pro in Virginia Beach, VA August 23 - 28 and the WRV Outer Banks Pro on the shores of Nags Head, NC August 31 - September 4. With a total of 4,000 points on offer, these events can help shuffle the fortune of many QS surfers and serve as a momentum builder heading into the back half of the 2016 season.

The Vans Pro Men's QS3000 returns to the schedule alongside the illustrious East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC), which is in its 54th consecutive year of running -- the longest-running event in North America and second only to Bells Beach in the world. The event played an important part for Kanoa Igarashi's (USA) qualification campaign with a vital win that later helped usher him into the Championship Tour (CT).

Following the Vans Pro, many of the surfers continue down the coast to Jeannette's Pier on the shores of Nags Head, NC for the WRV Outer Banks Pro QS1000. Joining the WSL schedule in 2014, the event title has remained on the East Coast with Virginia Beach's Michael Dunphy (USA) winning in 2014, after claiming the Vans Pro just a few days prior, and Jacksonville Beach, Fla. native Asher Nolan (USA) earning a win last year.

Landing one of the biggest airs this week, Halley Batista (BRA) stuck this aerial assault for a 7.27 as a last-ditch effort in his Quarterfinal victory - earning the score in the final minute. WSL/Ferguson QS veterans such as Halley Batista (BRA) are ones to keep an eye on at these events that offer them a big stage for upsets. - WSL / John W. Ferguson

Both the 1st Street Jetty in Virginia Beach and the eco-friendly Jeannette's Pier of Nags Head offer contestable beachbreaks that are open to every type of swell. With hurricane season in full effect on the East Coast, anticipation is building to see what the ocean will deliver throughout the event windows.

Dunphy will have his eyes set on a second Vans Pro title to gain some headway in the 2016 season and make a charge in the second half of the year.

"Winning two years ago was huge, I didn't realize there were that many people backing me and that was a highlight of my career," Dunphy said. When you're around the world competing, it's pretty much just you against the ocean and not many means of support. Coming here with everyone around me, it's a different kind of feel and it's great to have that once a year."

Defending Vans Pro Champion Michael Dunphy looks to find that winning form again on his home turf. Image: WSL / Ferguson Dunphy is looking for that winning feeling since his last victory at Belmar, NJ last year -- an event that did not make it back on the schedule this year. - WSL / John W.Ferguson

"I definitely feel like I'm a better surfer now then I was two years ago," Dunphy added. "I've just had a rough patch of results lately and and this year has been frustrating. I've had some close heats not go my way so I really want to do well in one event just to get that mindset and rhythm back. It's just a matter of finding that rhythm and going from there, which is the hardest part, but I want it."

Evan Geiselman returns to Virginia Beach for the sixth straight year in search of his second 2016 win after an impressive victory over Leonardo Firovanti (ITL) at the Ichinomiya Chiba Open QS6000. The New Smyrna Beach, Fla. native knows what it takes to win in smaller conditions and sees this event as an opportunity to keep the winning feeling alive and well. Currently at No. 10 on the QS rankings, Geiselman will look for a big result here to begin dropping his throwaways.

Evan Geiselman Geiselman's small wave knowledge earned him a massive win in Japan, and will have to tap back into his resources for another win in Virginia Beach. - WSL / S.Yamamoto

"To get another win would be huge, if you can get first or second I think that's a low keeper so they're definitely important -- and just for momentum it's always nice making heats to stay confident," Geiselman said. "I feel comfortable with the conditions we'll probably get. Usually it's hard being excited when it's so small but, being from the East Coast, most days are tiny so I just treat it as a normal surf. I've never done as good as I would like in VB so hopefully I have some rhythm this year. But, it's the only East Coast event you know isn't going anywhere so it's awesome knowing there's a solid event there and always a fun week."

The 2015 WRV Outer Banks Pro Men's QS1000 presented by Hurley and Pacifico received plenty of swell through varying conditions that a talented field of international surfers were able to pick a part - culminating into a victory for Asher Nolan (USA). WSL/Andrew Nichols Shifting gears from Virginia Beach to Jeannette's Pier in Nags Head isn't much of a change in terms of waves, but the pier creates an arena-type atmosphere for spectators to be right next to the action. - WSL

Three-time WRV Outer Banks Pro Champion Asher Nolan (USA) will return to defend his title and also compete in the Vans Pro QS3000. Nolan may have stepped away from the full-time QS grind, but is one to watch on his home coast. He's staying in tune with the ocean while helping today's youth progress their surfing as part of the Hurley team and still keeping his own skills razor sharp.

Claiming the 2015 WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Hurley and Pacifico, Asher Nolan (USA) decimated the event - not losing a single heat on his path to victory. WSL/Ferguson Asher Nolan's deadly backhand was a part of his winning recipe last year and will look for more of the same August 31 - September 4. - WSL / John W. Ferguson

"I'm super excited to be going back to Outer Banks, even if I wasn't competing I think I'd still go back because it's just a good time," Nolan said. "ECSC is always such a good event in the competitive sense with all the bigger names out, then going to Outer Banks is great to see all the up-and-coming guys really shine. I like to help guide those kids and try to give them understanding, which in turn has helped me become better at surfing heats while coaching them. I'm focusing more on heats and watching more than I ever have so it's really cool to get in that mindset."

Asher Nolan (USA) celebrating with runner-up Brian Toth (USA) after an exciting Finals heat in which the two friends went wave for wave until the very end. WSL/Ferguson Three-time champion Nolan getting the honorary shower after his victory alongside runner-up Brian Toth (PRI) who will look to get his 2016 QS campaign jumpstarted in Virginia Beach. - WSL / John W. Ferguson