With critical 3,000 points on the line, the Men's Qualifying Series (QS) is set to compete with the iconic 1st Street Jetty of Virginia Beach, Va. providing a backdrop for the Vans Pro Men's QS3,000. Taking place alongside the 54th annual East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC), the longest-running event in North America and second only to Bells Beach in the world, competitors are geared in for the five-day window stretching from August 23 - 28. The wildcards have been announced in their entirety after Bo Raynor won the trials, earning a place into the main event.
Taylor Clark earned the WSL North America event wildcard, alongside Matt Passaquindici, and wants to capitalize on the opportunity in front of him. Already with a win on the East Coast earlier this year in Cocoa Beach, Fla., Clark is prepared for what conditions may offer and be a threat to the Top 100. Currently sitting at No.1 on the North America ratings, Clark needs to maintain that position for a chance at competing in the QS10,000 events.
"Virginia will be big for both my North America ranking and regular seed -- if I can get a result in VB I'll hopefully keep my North America rating and be able to get into Caiscais on my own right," Clark said. "I'd say the biggest part when it comes to competing on the East Coast is having a magic board and I've got some great boards right now. I feel like I'm doing better this year than previous years because I'm trying to keep everything more simplified. With the whole Europe leg coming up after Virginia I feel like I have a good chance, just need to make some heats."
Bursting onto the QS scene this year, Griffin Colapinto has been gaining momentum through each event -- taking down some hefty names at the Vans US Open of Surfing. Turning 18 at the end of July, Colapinto has plenty of opportunity in front of him to grow as a competitive surfer and will also be competing in the Vans Pro Junior.
"The US Open felt super good and gave me a lot of confidence, especially after I beat Jordy [Smith] in my second heat," Colapinto said. "Virginia is a perfect spot to get the ball rolling before the big Europe leg. I'm pretty excited, my main focus is the QS so I'm not too worried about all the ratings in the junior. It's really nice to have that as backup though. If I can pull of a win at VB that would be great moving forward and I'm looking forward to the event."
Bo Raynor earned his place into the main event for a chance at QS glory in the dying seconds of the Tautog's Pro event that provided the final wildcard entry. Competing on the Junior Tour full-time, Raynor now raises his ambitions toward the next level of competition and will find himself alongside some of the top surfers the QS has to offer.
"Making it into the QS event is all I was worried about -- the prize money and everything was the last thing on my mind so I'm just so stoked to make into the main event," Raynor said. "This is a great opportunity to get some points and start building experience in the QS since I don't have any points, or seeding. I still have two years left on the Junior Tour so I'm pretty focused on that and my ultimate goal is to make onto the QS in coming years and surf with those guys. I'm going to try and not get over excited on this and really do well in the Junior, but to do well in both would be insane."
Senior Marketing Manager for Vans Surf Scott Sisamis knows the roots that Virginia Beach offers and continues to provide each year. Standing behind this competition is something Vans takes pride in and look to further their support for coming generations of youth surfing.
"Virginia Beach has a tremendous sense of community and rich surf culture, so for Vans to be part of this is nothing short of amazing," Sisamis said. "Surfers, from amateurs to pros, look forward to competing at this event regardless of points and places. It's a very unique event and can offer the occasional hurricane swell that every surfer dreams of."
Event organizers will convene at 6:30 a.m. to make a Call for a possible 7:00 a.m. Start. Go to www.worldsurfleague.com , or download the WSL App , for live scoring and event updates throughout the week on all your devices.