For the first time since its launch in 2014, an international competitor won the WRV Outer Banks Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, and Gabriel Farias, one of Brazil's many rising stars, was the one to do it.
Two-to-four foot swell streamed through the lineup to provide competitors plenty of scoring opportunity all day. And despite increasing winds scrambling the lineup, Farias put on a great display of surfing in the later rounds to emerge victorious.
Farias came into the Final with a lot of momentum, but had a slow start until soaring into a backside alley-oop that earned him a 9.00 (out of a possible 10) for a lead change -- one he wouldn't relinquish. The Brazilian talent found an immediate backup score of a 6.23 after a handful of searing turns on his backhand to raise Pittman's requirement to a near-perfect 9.23. This marks Farias' first-ever QS victory as he earns 1,000 valuable points toward chasing the higher-rated events.
"I had a rough go in Virginia and just knew I had to win this one, and thank God the waves always kept coming to me to go for those airs," Farias said. "All the heats before that Final I landed my first air, but when I didn't in the Final I was so bummed. But, then I landed that alley-oop for a 9-point score and my friends on the beach were keeping me updated with signals so I got excited to move into first after that. I had priority the last five minutes and knew I had to stay close to Stevie [Pittman] because he's such a great surfer. I can't believe I won this event."
The 22-year-old posted the day's highest single-wave score, a 9.27, and wave total of 15.94 (out of a possible 20) in his Quarterfinal bout with Tomas King before topping East Coast threat Tommy Coleman in the Semifinals. Farias will take this momentum forward and continue chasing his dream of breaking into the QS elite.
"My goal for this year is to get into the top events so I'll go straight to the Philippines for that QS3,000," Farias said. "I'm so happy to get a chance at competing in the QS6,000 in Brazil and I'll do my best to get a result at both the Philippines and in my home country. I'm just so happy right now and out of words to describe this moment."
Pittman's road to the Final was no easy task. On the way, he had to get past yesterday's barrel-hunter and freestyle air master Dustin Richardson in the Quarterfinals before taking on an in-form Facundo Arreyes in the Semis. The North Carolina native looked to have all the momentum heading into the Final, after nearly putting Arreyes in a combination situation, but he couldn't find that rhythm.
"It feels good to make it to the Final after getting barreled all day yesterday, that was just a dream, and today was still pretty fun," Pittman said. "Gabriel was just ripping all day long and landed that alley-oop which was hard to come back from. I'm just down the road about three hours and have competed here a lot so I'm really familiar with the area, and had my parents here to support me along with a lot of the people here which was great. I'll be able to get into some of the bigger QS's now I think so I'm really excited for that and I'll keep doing a few more events this year."
Pittman eliminated Argentinian talent Arreyes, who continued to impress at the start of finals day with a big Quarterfinal win over one of the event's biggest threats -- Australia's Chris Michalak. Arreyes tried to find his rhythm in the increasingly tricky conditions as winds became unfavorable. But, he still has full schedule ahead of him to finish up 2017, and the motivation to take it on.
"I feel so good because I came here looking for some points after my brother told me I needed to come here and Virginia so I could try and get into the QS6,000 in Brazil," Arreyes said. "This is the best result of my career so far and I'm super stoked on this event. Yesterday was the best day of competition I've ever surfed in and I had fun today. Now I'll get ready and try to do the Philippines event and just see what happens, but I'm ready for another one."
Vero Beach, Florida, native Tommy Coleman incredible run at Outer Banks ended with a Semifinal result and a boost of confidence in the 16-year-old's career. Coleman took down the all-East Coast Quarterfinal match against an in-form Gabriel Farias but couldn't find that winning form after fatigue set in from yesterday's massive day. Coleman's focus remains toward the Pro Junior circuit, but continues building experience in a jersey whenever he can and still has big year ahead of him.
"I knew I just had to go big against these guys since they all rip and stoked to get this far even though you always want to go a little further," Coleman said. "I'll get back to the Pro Junior Tour at the RVCA event now and then finish off the year in Barbados so I'm excited for that. I'm at fifth on the rankings there so I still have a chance which makes me happy. It's my first year really getting some contests under my belt and it's great to be making heats like this, and just keep trying to find my way through it all."
The next North America QS event will be the Pismo Open Men's QS1,000 November 17 through 19 at Pismo Beach, California.