For the last five years, the WRV Outer Banks Pro pres by Pacifico men's Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 has returned to Jennette's Pier for an opportunity at building points for up-and-coming surfers, QS veterans, and a few standout competitors looking for an edge on home soil. But in 2017, rising Brasilian talent Gabriel Farias earned his first international win.
After his win, the 23-year-old climbed up the ranks and fell just shy of qualifying for the QS 10,000s in 2018. The Maracaípe, Brasil, native is on the rise and, with a bit of mentoring from the likes of 2014 World Champion Gabriel Medina, he could be one to keep an eye on throughout his career.
WSL caught up with the No. 205 ranked Farias on the shores of Nags Head, North Carolina, as he prepares to defend his event title and make another surge toward bettering his No. 164 finish last season.
WSL: How's it feel to return here where you won your first-ever QS event?
Gabriel Farias: I'm just so happy to be back here for the fourth year now, I love this place and decided to pass up on Europe for this one. It's great to be in a familiar setting where I have some confidence and around all my friends again. My first year I got a fifth-place finish, but then lost first round the next year, so to win it after that was incredible and just grateful for that win.
What are your goals looking like for this year?
I think my main goal is to get into the prime events so I'll do this event and the Philippines again, and hopefully get enough points to make it into Hawaii at the end of the year. This year has been my first getting to compete in the QS 6,000s and after competing in three of them, I just kept losing in really close heats. But, I'm just trying to gain experience for the next few years.
And, being around Gabriel Medina as much as you have the last year, what's something you've gotten from a competitor who's pushed the sport so far?
I learned a lot with him this year. I think just to be more competitive like him all the time -- he's so competitive whether it's surfing or playing cards (laughs). Also, to try new things like crazy airs in heats and keep pushing my surfing to the best it can be. It's been great soaking it all in and also just getting to hang out around him is always fun.
Coming from Maracaípe, what's that wave like in terms of helping you prepare for the QS and be confident in your surfing?
It's a lot like here in Outer Banks. The wave can get really hollow and it's also really good for airs which helped a lot winning last year. I train there every day when I'm home. You have to be prepared for every condition on the QS and train on every wave you can to be ready. But, that's about all you can do and see what happens next -- it's the QS life.
Watch for Farias and more at the WRV Outer Banks Pro QS 1,000 pres. by Pacifico August 29 - September 2 on the live webcast.