An East Coast takeover begins with the Vans Pro Men's Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 and Pro Junior that will run August 22 through 27. Some of the top QS contenders are in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with 3,000 vital points on offer for those looking to make a leap toward Championship Tour (CT) qualification. This marks the seventh-straight year the 1st Street Jetty will host some of the Men's QS elite which has crowned past winners such as Kolohe Andino, Patrick Gudauskas, and Kanoa Igarashi.
Alongside the QS contingent, the Vans Pro Junior hosts some of North America's next up-and-coming surfers as they compete against international talent for a chance at earning crucial points toward World Junior Championships qualification.
Evan Geiselman joined the exquisite list of QS winners after his victory last year -- over hometown hero and former event victor Michael Dunphy. The New Smyrna Beach, Florida, native continued a dream run year with a win here in 2016, after earning 6,000 points in Chiba, Japan, earlier in the summer. Geiselman's 2017 hasn't quite yielded the results he'd like, aside from a win in Cocoa Beach. But, after claiming a Hurley Pro Trestles Trials win, he found more rhythm with a Round Five appearance at the Vans US Open of Surfing QS10,000 which moved him up 18 spots on the QS rankings, to No. 44.
"I'm really looking forward to Virginia Beach, especially being from the East Coast since it's the biggest event on the coast and it's always fun to compete here," Geiselman said. "It was cool to win the trials for a spot into Lowers and make some heats at the US Open. I had a pretty slow start to this year, but feel like I'm starting to find some confidence for this back half of the season."
Dunphy's runner-up performance last year was his best since his victory in 2014 -- a year in which he competed for a CT spot heading into Hawaii. Born and raised in Virginia Beach, Dunphy now spends most of his time traveling or in New Smyrna Beach with family. But, the 27-year-old never forgets his roots and returns home for a shot at reclaiming his Vans Pro glory.
"Last year was a good run for me here and anytime you make a Final in an event I think you can walk away happy," Dunphy said. "I felt my surfing was good and I was basically just one wave away from winning the event again. For me, Virginia Beach is just a special place even though I don't spend much time here these days. It's where I first learned to surf so all my early memories of surfing and competing come from 1st Street Jetty. When I won in 2014, with all my friends rushing me as I came in, that's a day I will never forget. That event was the one that kickstarted my run of being close to qualifying. Hopefully I can find some momentum that same way this year, as I know I have only improved as a surfer since then."
San Clemente local Crosby Colapinto is another surfer to watch for when the event kicks off. So far, his second year on the Pro Junior Tour has yielded much more success than his debut in 2016, thanks in part to the help of his older brother and current QS No. 5 Griffin Colapinto. Now, Crosby currently sits in a qualification spot toward the World Junior Championships and potentially solidify that standing in Virginia Beach.
"I am very excited to see what is coming," Colapinto said. "Being in a qualifying spot for Worlds is awesome because I think it will give me some confidence and momentum going into the last few contest. But, to keep this momentum up it will take a lot of hard work and training. I will also be running some fun heats with my brother and learn more heat strategies.
"A big change that I saw in my surfing on the competitive side is that I am more patient in the water and also I tend to not stress as much in heats. My brother and I like to go down to our local break, T-Street, and run heats to work on our strategy. Some goals that I would like to achieve would be to win a Pro Junior and make Worlds, and then be in a QS6,000 in about two years."
Event organizers will meet at 7:15 a.m. EDT to determine a possible 8:00 a.m. EDT start for either the Vans Pro QS3,000 or Pro Junior.
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.