The iconic Huntington Beach Pier will once again play backdrop to the Shoe City Pro Men's and Women's Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 January 13 - 15. Top seeded surfers are already confirmed and the fourth installment of this historically proud event has begun to take shape with a men's Round of 96 format and women's Round of 32 in place.
Last year's runner-up and finishing at No. 56 on the QS in 2016, Nate Yeomans returns to the Shoe City Pro with some unfinished business. The San Clemente, Calif., native and former Championship Tour (CT) competitor knows the lineup of Huntington Beach all too well and will rely on that knowledge to kickoff 2017 with a good result.
"I'm really looking forward to this event and it's awesome to start the year off with a local event," Yeomans said. "Last year was nice to start the year off with a Final. It was bitter sweet, more sweet than bitter. I was in the Final with one of my best friends Pat [Gudauskas]. It was really rad, but of course you want to be the one that wins. I'll be looking to redeem myself this year."
Fellow former CT competitor Brett Simpson proved he's still one of the world's elite surfers after his wildcard performance at the Hurley Pro Trestles, eliminating 2016 WSL Champion John John Florence. After finishing No. 27 on the QS this season, Simpson is back to chase his ambitions of rejoining the Top 34. The Huntington Beach local surfs the pier nearly every day and will be a major threat to this event once more.
"I'm pumped up after a nice finish to the year," Simpson said. "Besides not qualifying I felt healthy and in some good form so I'm really excited for this coming year. This comp was actually my first pro win, it was a Vans event then, but pretty sure same time and tradition so it always has a soft spot in my heart. Also competing at home in the winter is a change, and the waves have been pretty fun for this event so I'm excited for that."
Meah Collins began what would be a momentous 2016 at the Shoe City Pro with a third-place finish and ultimately lead her to becoming the North America Women's QS Regional Champion. The 17-year-old returns for a fresh season and another big year both in and out of surfing.
""Being able to kickoff my year in my hometown at HB is such an advantage with all my family and friends support. I love the vibe with everyone on the Pier and the entire downtown HB set up," Collins said. "I'm graduating in June and am finally going to be able to put 100 percent in my surfing so I'm excited to see how that affects my performance this year."
"I want to try to take advantage of my seeding from winning the North America title," Collins added. "I've been surfing every day at home no matter what the conditions are. I'm trying to keep an open mind, knowing that comps bring all kinds of conditions that I need to be ready for."
Contest Director Scott Waring is elated to bring this contest back to life with its proud history. Waring has shown his dedication to surfing throughout the years and sees this as an opportunity to give back even more for the next generation.
"I feel that the Shoe City has a place for everyone's dreams," Waring said. "It's where Kanoa Igarashi won his first-ever QS in 2014 and took the momentum to qualify into the big leagues. Kolohe Andino won in 2015 wanting to get tuned up and 2016 winner Pat Gudaskus did very well on the QS this season. I feel it's very important to support both men and women's QS events here at home for story's like the past three winners and how it worked for them."