Summer is still in full effect on the shorelines of Virginia where the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000 and Vans Pro Junior competitive fields are set for opening day August 20 - 25. An elite field of QS athletes and the top North America regional Pro Juniors, 18-and-under, are in attendance at the iconic 1st Street Jetty to compete for valuable points in their respective divisions.
This marks the ninth-annual Vans Pro alongside the esteemed East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC), now in its 57th year of competition and one of the world's longest-running events.
The East Coast will be well-represented in Virginia Beach with the likes of current North America No. 1 Noah Schweizer set to hold his place atop the rankings and is joined by Cam Richards, Luke Gordon along with former event winners Evan Geiselman and Virginia Beach's own Michael Dunphy. For one of the youngest of the East Coast QS collective, Gordon, a result here could be momentous after taking down the Vans Surf Open Acapulco in July before winning the Vans US Open of Surfing trials.
"It's such a blessing this contest for all of us East Coasters because the QS is hard on everyone financially and the fact we have one here feels like can catch our breath," Gordon said. "I'm feeling really good coming into this event and never had this much confidence in myself. I know I have what it takes and I'm hungry for a win."
Former Championship Tour (CT) elite Nat Young is looking to regain some momentum and leads a crew of Californian talent on hand including QS veterans Ian Crane and Nathan Yeomans, also a former CT competitor, along with current North America Pro Junior No. 1 Kade Matson as he looks to obtain a third-straight regional victory in the Vans Pro Junior.
Young, 28, searches for re-qualification this year and currently sits at No. 12 on the rankings heading into Virginia Beach with plenty of experience at the beach break - claiming a Pro Junior victory in its inaugural year.
"I've had a few weeks off so I'm looking forward to getting it going again," Young said. "I've always had a good time in Virginia Beach regardless of the waves so it's going to be a fun week. I've won the junior in VB before so that's always something you remember heading back to a familiar venue. Having the right mindset is always important coming here, you lower your expectations and hope it's rideable but I'm excited to compete."
The international front is well-represented with strong contingent from Australia, Brazil, Central America, Europe, and Japan. Aussie competitors such as QS newcomer Kyuss King joins veterans Mitch Crews and Mitch Coleborn among others in search of a big win. Joh Azuchi and fellow Japanese compatriots look to keep the title in Japan after Hiroto Ohhara's victory last year, but will be competing alongside the Brasilian contenders such as former event double-finalist Samuel Pupo and QS threat Victor Bernardo.
This also marks a pivotal stop for the Pro Juniors as the third event in 2019 with Matson in a commanding spot holding two victories. But this event, similar to the US Open, brings in a stacked out-of-region contingent that pose threats to walking away with the win as in the previous two years. Floridian Tommy Coleman is hoping to find his way back to the Finals in 2019 on the East Coast and garner those points toward his campaign of WSL World Junior Championships.
"I'm really excited for this event and I hope we can get a little wave this week," Coleman said. "One thing I can take from the US Open was try to get on the better waves and I really want to make some ground up here. Sticking to that strategy is super important especially with the forecast and knowing there may only be a few good waves each heat so you'll have to be on them."
A 7:00am EDT call will determine a possible 7:30am EDT start for Round 1 of either the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000 or Pro Junior.
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