It was a special occasion for the North America Women's Qualifying Series (QS) at the WRV Outer Banks Pro pres by Pacifico QS 1,000 after contesting heats for the first time since 2004. For perspective, the last time this event ran for the women's QS, one of the youngest competitors on hand, Rubiana Brownell, was a mere infant and is now into Round 2 after competition ran through Round 1.
With the event back on schedule, some of the day's standouts made their QS debuts with the opportunity to gain points on home soil and didn't let it pass them by.
Makena Burke and Morgan Iglay Make QS Debuts Count
Jennette's Pier gifted Burke, who earned her maiden Pro Junior Final appearance at the Vans US Open earlier this month, a gem in the final five minutes and she didn't waste it to earn the day's best single-scoring wave of 5.67 (out of a possible 10), only needing a 2.43. The score helped Burke post a debut heat win over fellow Californian Brooke Young and North Carolina native Leah Thompson. This marks the 15-year-old's first QS event and her mindset is locked in. Burke recognizes the chance she has to capitalize on experience, as well as some points, in her first trip to the Outer Banks.
"It felt great to get through after just waiting for a wave and I was so lucky that one came through," Burke said. "I think of this as a Pro Junior because I'm used to those and I try to find my comfort zone in events. I just try to stay calm and not think about it too much. It's so nice to see this event on the schedule with Pismo coming later this year as well since it's just a few hours from my house. It's a really good opportunity with it being in North America and it's closer than the other events."
Iglay, a Manasquan, New Jersey, native, also enters her first QS event at 16-year-old and is taking advantage of the opportunity just a few hours from home. Iglay comes in with plenty of amateur surf competition experience, but now found herself winning her first-ever QS heat. It was a hard-fought heat in the tough conditions and Iglay rose to the occasion with her strategy working brilliantly.
"It's really cool to be here, I've never done a contest this big and I'm really excited," Iglay said. "Everyone at home is excited for me so that gives me a lot of encouragement. It's really fun to be a part of this experience and I didn't expect that win honestly so that's great. You definitely have to be on the sets and use your priority right when you have it. It's also important to be light on your feet and get those bigger turns in when you can."
Charlotte Lange Gets Moving
Charlotte Lange is only just getting her career started, competing in the Live Like Zander Junior Pro since 2016 and only one QS event under her belt. But, the 16-year-old took that experience and used it to her advantage for an early win to start gaining momentum in the Outer Banks. Lange was just two-years-old when Claire Bevilacqua won the last Women's QS event at Jennette's Pier and hopes to add her name to the list -- starting off with a day's best 10.00 (out of a possible 20) heat total.
"I'm pretty stoked to make a heat in the QS after being in my first one earlier this year," Lange said. "It was super tough at Sebastian Inlet just with waves everywhere, it was really chaotic. Here it's easier to find your spot and I set myself up just at the end of the scaffolding with a good little sandbar there. It's nice here and I've been able to hang out with my friends around here and some of them from California, so it's really cool. I can't believe it's been 14 years since they last had it so this is great to see it back."
Tanika Hoffman's Opportunity In Disguise
One of South African's top QS talents made her first trip to the Outer Banks count with a Round 1 Heat 1 victory over two young threats Kailey Bogart and Maddie Garlough. Hoffman currently sits at No. 79 on the QS and a result here could push her up the rankings to help earn a higher seed for 2019. The 20-year-old went through issues with her visa that kept her from chasing the European leg, but she now has a chance at 1,000 points in a new spot and is embracing it with open arms.
"I've been in LA since the Oceanside event and I thought it's an event not too far, I've never been, so it looked like a fun one to come to," Hoffman said. "It's super cool that there's more of these smaller events coming on schedule for the girls looking to get into the QS and get a few points. These 1,000 points are really important to keep your ratings up and after doing some of the QS 6,000s this year a few more extra points are always good. I had a problem with my visa for Europe, but I took advantage of the opportunity here and it's great - I love traveling to new places and it's good to keep competing."
The WRV Outer Banks Pro QS 1,000 pres. by Pacifico runs August 29 - September 2 at Jennette's Pier, Nags Head, North Carolina.