The World Surf League (WSL) Men's Qualification Series (QS) Pacificio Belmar Pro Men's QS1000 and Fins Pro Junior are down to the final heats of competition. After running Rounds 4 and 5 of the Men's QS1000, the Quarterfinal draw is prepared and there are no easy heats remaining. The same could be said for the Pro Juniors, who are into their Semifinal match-ups with plenty of talent in each heat. Fun surf continued off the South Jetty at 16th Avenue thanks to the long period swell from Tropical Storm Henri - making wave selection a key factor in deciding this morning‘s heats.
Jake Davis (USA) showed his patience and made each ride count, winning both of his heats in Round 4 and 5. Earning the highest heat total of the day, a 14.84, the San Clemente, CA native is excited for finals day and knows what it takes to make heats here in Belmar, NJ.
"It's going really well here and I'm stoked on making it through," Davis said. "I'm just trying to get good momentum going and really just pick the right waves because right now it's all about wave selection. If you're getting on the good waves and then making those connections you're going to come out on top - it's really just coming down to that."
Davis may have lost in the early rounds of the Fins Pro Junior, but that did not phase him going into the Men's QS1000 event. With a busy schedule ahead of him, Davis is keeping his focus on the now and will do whatever it takes to bring a win home with him.
"My board is feeling really great and moving fast in these small conditions which it's made for," Davis said. "I'm able to fit in a bunch of turns and it's helped me the last four QS events. I was bummed with my performance in the Juniors and not getting any waves for that but I just switched my head into this event and I'm ready to win it all. I haven't really gotten a big result on the QS this year so this event is really helping with my confidence here since I'm heading to Brazil for those 6000 events."
Also in fine form for the Pacifico Belmar Pro Men's QS1000, Michael Dunphy (USA) earned wins in both of his heats today as well. Putting up a solid 14.34 heat total, Dunphy found himself in the right spot at the right time amidst the slow conditions and is thrilled for finals day.
"There's still some pretty good waves when they come but it's hard in these four-man heats when there's that one tight peak against the jetty," Dunphy said. "I was lucky to get a couple waves and thankfully now it's just man-on-man instead of tactical paddle battles. It makes it more to where you can just relax and really enjoy the waves."
Even though the Virginia Beach, VA native looks to be in form already, Dunphy has plenty left in the tank for when it's needed most. He has plenty to look forward to with a win here giving him the momentum needed for what the future holds - and is certainly a threat coming down to man-on-man competition tomorrow.
"I feel great but I know I can surf better than I did today which makes me want to go bigger tomorrow," Dunphy said. "It just gives me more to push for in the Quarterfinals. I've had a few unlucky breaks which is going to happen after winning both events leading up to this last year - I had a lot of things go my way for that to happen. It's good to get that out of the way and I have some big events coming up in Europe so this is a great warmup for that."
After the Pacifico Belmar Pro Men's QS1000 finished the two rounds of competition, the Fins Pro Junior took to the water again for Quarterfinal action. Amidst growing winds from the morning heats, Matt Passaquindici (USA) found a gem that opened up for the young Californian - turning in the highest single-wave score, 8.83, and heat total, 15.33 of the Quarterfinals.
"It felt really good to get a wave that allows you to carry that board speed and not hop around so much," Passaquindici said. "Just being on an open face felt really nice and after that I was really happy. I'm pumped since I haven't had a result in a Junior for a long time and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow - hopefully bettering myself and winning every heat."
Passaquindici is enjoying the competition with his fellow surfers and making the best of what Belmar has to offer. With a stacked Semifinal heat, Passaquindici has his work cut out for him and will keep to his game plan.
"You really have to pick the best waves and paddle around some guys but it's all in good fun," Pasaquindici said. "We're all out to win so it's a great time surfing against these guys. Everyone's in the same boat as far as waves go, they may be a little small but there are waves out there and you just have to make sure you're on the good ones."
Making his way back from Hawaii after spending a few weeks doing the first part of East Coast competitions, Elijah Gates (HAW) finds himself in a Fins Pro Junior Semifinal - after making it to Round 5 of the Men's QS1000 before being eliminated this morning. Noticing the varying conditions, Gates found his place in the lineup and took down an in-form Kalani David (HAW), who he will face once more in the Semis. A win here would put the Hawaiian in a great position toward making a run at the World Junior Championships and he is keeping that in mind.
"I feel like I've had a pretty good contest so far and just want to keep the momentum going - I'd be psyched if I could make the final," Gates said. "I definitely got excited to go home which made me that much more stoked to come back instead of staying here and grinding between contests. It changed a lot from this morning but it's still by the jetty and you just had to be as deep as you could be. It's where all the best waves were coming from, even though they were a bit inconsistent."
"My first thought was to just get away from the rocks right when I got up and then just get a bunch of solid turns before it closes out," Gates added. "I'm just going to attack it the best I can - the more points I can earn here the better it will be for me in the standings."
Tune in live at www.belmarpro.com for all the Finals Day action beginning at 7:30am tomorrow, to see who will be crowned this year's kings of Belmar.