The Vans Pro Men's Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 and Pro Junior kicked off opening day with three rounds of Pro Junior action before moving into Round One of the QS bouts. Virginia Beach's tricky, one-to-two foot conditions were well sorted by the Pro Juniors with numerous excellent scores being posted throughout the day. But, the men's QS started with a bang as some heavy-hitters made their debuts early in the event.
Championship Tour (CT) competitor Miguel Pupo began his Vans Pro campaign brilliantly and showed his veteran experience in the small conditions on offer. The Sao Paulo, Brazil, native took to his forehand right away and blasted an 8.77 (out of a possible 10) to earn the day's highest single-wave score -- and heat total of 16.77 (out of a possible 20). Pupo is in need of a momentum swing on both the CT and QS, and hopes to turn his season around here in Virginia Beach.
"I was at Trestles preparing for that event and just wanted to get in a jersey so I signed up a bit late which put me into the early round, but I think it works in my favor," Pupo said. "It's good to have the experience against some fresh faces, especially with priority, and not have to hassle like we did back when I was a grom competing. I was paying attention and not letting them go on the good waves knowing they could get the score. It's been a tough year for me with some ups and downs -- getting a good result in South Africa, but then getting sick before J-Bay was rough. The US Open was a hard one so I came here looking for, if not a win, just a really good result."
Brian Toth returned to the 1st Street Jetty in winning fashion and a new place in life. The seasoned QS veteran is taking his competitive affairs much less seriously in 2017 after finding a job outside of the competitive arena, but still has his eyes set on a few key places within the tour. Toth is joined by fellow Puerto Rican Dylan Graves into Round Three, but is a mentor to the next generation of Caribbean surfers from his native island.
"I always love coming back here with all the boys and it's great to see some waves even if it's a little slow," Toth said. "There's still something out there and heard it's going to be a lot better so I'm stoked. I've become a full surfer rep since April, working with Dakine after it fell into my lap while transitioning out of that QS warrior type -- it was just meant to be. It's been great spending more time at home and having fun waves there, but it's great to put on a jersey. My main goal is to just end up in the Top 120s, to get back into the Volcom Pipe Pro, that's one event I'll never want to retire from. I've got two events I haven't done yet and can only move up which is nice."
Event organizers will reconvene in the morning to make a 7:00 a.m. EDT call for a possible 7:30 a.m. EDT start.
The Vans Pro Men's QS3,000 and Pro Junior will run August 22 through 27 in coordination with the historical East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC) -- the world's second-longest running contest, now in its 55th year, behind Bells' Beach.