The difference between the elite Qualifying Series (QS) competitors and those on the outside looking in hoping to break through comes down to a few things, but one of the major keys to success is adaptability. Conditions proved tough for the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro QS 1,500 and Junior Pro as swell deteriorated and competition moved through the later stages.
However, competitors were able to overcome and thrive with both events now into the Quarterfinal draws.
Stevie Pittman's Learning Curve
The North Carolina native calls home a place where the coast can light up at any given moment and get barrels equivalent to the heaviest reefs around the world. But, it also means wave-starved seasons that the 18-year-old can get paramount training toward learning how to excel in small surf which he did today. Pittman was able to find a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a perfect 10) and back it up to garner a 16.25 (out of a possible 20) heat total based off his mistakes earlier that day.
"I had a shocker yesterday and barely scraped through so I made some changes which I'm glad worked out," Pittman said. "I'm pretty excited to surf good in my heat earlier in the day. It was tough out there and a lower tide works better, but I was glad there was still a few waves left. This feels good to make some heats after not making it far in the Florida Pro and having a shocker at the Volcom."
Double Time Grind: Crosby Colapinto and Jett Schilling
Round 3 yielded more success for 17-year-old Colapinto after posting an excellent, meaning an 8.00 (out of a possible 10) or higher, 8.10 and continued that momentum into a big Round 4 win -- eliminating the No. 1 seed Ruben Vitoria in the process. Last year wasn't the result Colapinto came in search for during his first trip to Cocoa Beach but took away the knowledge he's been able to implement here this time around.
The 2018 North America Pro Junior No. 2 also made it to the Quarterfinals in the Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro and is miles ahead of his result last year.
"It feels good to make it past where I did last year in the QS, especially because last year I had a hard time getting over a six-point ride," Colapinto said. "I really like being in both events and know the lineup even better. I'm just trying to stay calm and save as much energy as I can for all my heats. Last year I didn't really have boards prepared for here and I came back with the right equipment. It's all about confidence."
Colapinto's fellow San Clemente competitor Schilling joins him in both event Quarterfinals after a rousing display in his Round 3 debut on the junior level. The 16-year-old's quick, powerful backhand decimated the lineup and posted a near-perfect 9.00 -- the highest among the Pro Junior contingent. Schilling's looking to make it back to a Pro Junior Final after earning an appearance at the Los Cabos Open of Surf event in 2018.
"I'm so stoked to make it into the Quarterfinals in both events, it's an amazing feeling to get through that wall on the QS level," Schilling said. "My friends and I train a lot back home to prepare for events and it's nice when it pays off. We'll set our watches to twenty-minutes and just battle and gets you ready for these situations. You needed some extra wax out there today (laughs). The water was super slippery, but I was able to take advantage of the rights and just whip the board up on my backside."
The Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro QS 1,500 will be off Saturday, March 16, and run Quarterfinals March 17.