All involved at the WRV Outer Banks Pro Men's and Women's pres. by Pacifico QS 1,000 awoke to a gift from Mother Nature Saturday as two-to-three foot swell came streaming into Jennette's Pier to contest a marathon day of Qualifying Series action.
Competitors relished in the fun conditions offering, high-performance sections that were not left to waste as both men and women's finals day draws are locked in after an incredible day finished men's Round 2 and 3, as well as women's Round 2.
Tommy Coleman Is Enjoying the Moment -- and Dropping Near-Perfection
Coleman picked up right where he left off after his Round 1 victory two days ago and dismantled top-seeded surfers, 2014 event winner Michael Dunphy, along with Cole Alves. The Vero Beach, Florida, native toppled Peres' 16.67 heat total with an outstanding 17.16 heat total of his own. Yet, that wasn't enough for the 16-year-old as he posted an event-best, single-wave score of a near-perfect 9.50.
Coleman is learning to find his comfort zone in the competitive jersey and showed complete control of both his Round 2 and 3 heats today.
"Definitely got lucky on a couple waves that guys didn't go on, but I've just been staying in the moment and having fun," Coleman said. "When you put all the pressure on you, it's not fun anymore so I've been trying to think of it more as a freesurf in heats. I just put the last event behind me and reset, and I'll try to finish strong in the Pro Junior, but I really want to do well here. It feels amazing to find my flow because I had some big guys in my heats and all these guys rip."
New Mentality Keeps Chauncey Robinson Powering Through
Fellow Floridian Robinson edged out Coleman for heat total of the day with an impeccable 17.83, earning his own near-perfect 9.00 to start a hefty Round 3 battle. Robinson overtook Dunphy, who advanced into Round 4, along with Robert Grilho and Max Beach. The Melbourne Beach, Florida, native gave it everything in each heat and his work ethic, as well as new mindset, paid off for a slot into Round 4.
"It feels pretty good to be back into a finals day and I've felt like I've been able to finally get in rhythm with the East Coast this year," Robinson said. "Something just clicked. Maybe it's new boards or a new mentality going into this year after leaving Australia and learning a lot. Every event since Australia I've looked at completely different and it's been amazing. There's a few places I feel comfortable and this is definitely one of them."
Brasilians Storm Into Finals Day
Despite the loss of defending WRV Outer Banks Pro Champion Gabriel Farias, the Brasilian contingent on hand are well-represented on finals day with Renan Pulga and Alan Donato leading the way. They're joined by Fernando Junior, who helped in the elimination of his countrymen Farias alongside Noah Schweizer in Round 2, but it was Pulga who debuted brilliantly -- earning a 16.67 heat total.
The 20-year-old then followed up with a Round 3 win, posting another excellent 8.50 along the way. It's Pulga's second trip to Outer Banks and the young Brasilian has his eyes set on podium finish.
"I'm feeling really good after making a few heats in Virginia and just want to keep it going here," Pulga said. "I try to do my best and there's finally waves to showcase our surfing which is great. It was my strategy to just get on the good waves of the set and make a few big turns so I'm glad it worked out. I just want to keep it going, stay focused, and find the right wave, but I'm so stoked to be in finals day here."
Former event runner-up Donato finished behind Dunphy in 2014, but doesn't want to leave Outer Banks without going one better this time around. It's the 32-year-old's first time back since 2015 after missing last year's dream day, but he hasn't forgotten what brought him back.
"The waves are so much more fun than the last few weeks over here and I lost early in Virginia so I'm stoked to make it through two rounds so far," Donato said. "I'm here with my friends and it's just a fun time, I love this place. I saw last year and so many barrels I just asked myself why I wasn't here, the only year I'm not here (laughs). I'm so comfortable here and with a few waves coming through each heat, we're all in the same boat and you just have to do your best."
Women's Finals Day Draw Locked In
Makena Burke: It's Not Beginners Luck For the QS Newcomer
It's Burke's first-ever QS event and while she may not have experience at this level, the 15-year-old knows what it takes to compete. The Ventura, California, native smashed through her debut QS heat in yesterday's proceedings, but pushed the scale even higher with a near-perfect 9.33 to eliminate one Hawaii's top Pro Junior surfers Savanna Stone.
"I'm so happy to get that second, clean wave of the set it was so good," Burke said. "It was crazy to wake up and see waves, I didn't expect that and it was amazing. I want to make the Final so bad now. It's going to take a lot of focus and keeping my mind in a good space, take deep breaths, and just keep having fun."
No Shortage of Fun for Kailey Bogart
If any knew how to keep having fun, it was the youngest competitor in this event -- 13-year-old, North Shore, Oahu, native Bogart.
After getting through Round 1 and spreading her infectious smile, the frothing teenager went one further today and took down a big Round 2 heat with her last-second wave. After Tiare Thompson overtook the lead, pushing Kayla Durden to third-place, on the final exchange, scores dropped for Bogart to the sound of a 5.87. But, it's all fun for Bogart after becoming a USA National Snowboarding Champion and overcoming a serious head surgery at just five-years-old and now finds herself into her first-ever QS finals day.
"It's so amazing and I was so happy with my last wave, it was just so much fun out there," Bogart said. "I think I'm the youngest girl competing and I'm surfing against the women who I look up to toward competing -- and I just won a heat, it's insane. It's amazing to be in this event when I wasn't even born the last time it happened here. My technique is all about going out and just surfing, do your best, and whoever's winning is the one having the most fun. I think I'm one of those people."
A 7:30 a.m. EDT call will determine an 8:00 a.m. EDT start for men's Round 4 to get finals day underway and crown two, possibly brand new WRV Outer Banks Pro Champions.