The men's Qualifying Series (QS) and Pro Juniors embraced a proper East Coast kind of day to race through opening day of the Vans Pro QS 3,000 and Vans Pro Junior -- full of testy surf, sunshine, rain, and eventually lightning that shutdown the beach.
But, despite ever-changing outside weather conditions, competitors showed their grit and ability to grind through opening rounds with impeccable performances. A few were able to breakthrough the average scores and rise above what could be expected at 1st Street Jetty in one-to-two foot windswell.
Eduardo Motta Continues Strong Brasilian Presence in Vans Pro Junior
Last year's victor Mateus Herdy may not be in attendance this time around, but Motta picked up right where Herdy left off and debuted with impeccable form. The Brasilian posted an 8.17, the only excellent score amid the junior ranks so far, and showed the international threat is imposing once more. It marked Motta's Virginia Beach first-ever appearance at 1st Street Jetty and he hails from the same area as 2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza, giving him plenty of motivation.
"You had to surf fast out there and get two or three quick turns for a good score so it felt great to find a wave like that," Motta said. "It's tough and pretty slow, but when the right one comes it can be fun. It's so good to have a bunch of Brasilians here because we're all here for each other. I've just wanted to spend a lot of time in the water to try and figure it out, but I've also been training in similar waves back home -- even a little smaller -- so I'm ready."
The Turning Point Micha Cantor Needs
The South Carolina native represented well for the East Coast in his Round 1 debut after a tough start to the year. Cantor, 17, still has one full Pro Junior season left ahead of him next year, but isn't planning on remaining stagnant after a slow start in 2018. And, not competing in the QS 3,000, Cantor has his full focus on the Pro Junior which could help prove to be difference maker with his new mindset.
"It feels good to actually win a heat again and I think I've been losing a lot because I overthink my heats," Cantor said. "I'm definitely relieved more when I just go out and surf which is what I did today. Before this event I did the Sweetwater Pro/Am to try and get some heats out of the way so I guess it's working. It's so important to find those waves and take advantage of it. Making the Top 4 this year will be hard with a bad start, but it'll be good to work on my seed for next year."
Sebastian Williams: "It's All on the Up and Up"
Last year was a steep learning curve for the Mexican competitor. Dealing with an injury that took Williams out for nearly a year set him back, but he's earning it all back one event at a time and doing so with his form intact. Seeded into Round 2 of the Vans Pro QS 3,000 event, the 18-year-old is looking to capitalize on both fronts as he prepares for his next step toward a full-time QS season in 2019.
"I'm just wanting to come here and take care of business, but it's a lot of luck I feel like so you just have to get the good waves," Williams said. "If the waves are good I'm confident in my skills and at least I know I can do it after today. Getting some scores and that win definitely gets me going. I had a bad year last year and I've just been really focused this year. My surfing's the best it's been in a long time, along with my boards, and it's all on the up and up -- just have to keep making heats and getting results then see what happens after."
Tomorrow's 6:30 a.m. call will determine a 7:00 a.m. start for either Men's Round 2 or Pro Juniors Round 2 action.