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Japanese and East Coast Contingent Showcase at Vans Pro

On a day that was forecast to be the worst during the event window, waves continued to pulse through and provide Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000 competitors with some opportunities. However, good things came to those that waited as patience was a vital factor for locking in the scores needed with the waves of proper scoring potential scarce once more.

The midday high tide forced event organizers to call the event off for the day after completing Round 2 Heat 12 but not before the damage was done to 1st Street Jetty's lineup.

Rinta Oooto and Arashi Kato Lead Japanese Charge

Rinta Oooto (JPN) at the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000 on Friday, August 23, 2019. Oooto came in with a sharp focus and it didn't leave his face even after smashing his opening heat. WSL / John Ferguson

The Japanese contingent is well-represented at this event and dominated the opening heats with Rinta Oooto picking up right where Kato left off in Round 2 Heat 3 with a masterful performance to earn the day's top heat score of an excellent 16.10 (out of a possible 20) -- including an excellent 8.83 in his scoreline. Oooto and New Zealand's Billy Stairmand shared the wave with Stairmand also earning an excellent 8.00, but Oooto was the man of the hour and helped eliminate yesterday's standout Robbie McCormick. The Chiba, Japan, native is all too familiar with these conditions and showed that comfort level with his wave selection.

"It was really fun when the waves came in but you had to be patient for them," Oooto said. "I grew up in Tokyo but now I live in Chiba and the waves there are really similar so I know how to compete in these conditions. I'm having a good week here and can't wait for the next heat."

Arashi Kato (JPN) winning his Round 2 heat at the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000. Kato's experience in Virginia Beach continues to show each year he shows up. WSL / John Ferguson

Kato debuted strong alongside compatriot Ryo Kodama making it through after his Round 1 win Thursday. Kato's 5.83 (out of a possible 10) start came just before a heat restart due to slow, low tide conditions but a 7.50 finish solidified a big Round 2 win over Taro Watanabe (Malibu, Calif.) and Colt Ward (San Clemente, Calif.).

"I knew the tide was going to be low for that heat so I just wanted to catch waves and that's what I have to do for a living," Kato said. "It was pretty nerve-racking waiting for those first 10 minutes so I was really happy to get that first wave and get a 5.83 out of it. After that I just went toward the north side of the area and that 7.50 came toward the end which was a big relief."

Momoto Tsuzuki and Miyu Furukawa also join their countrymen into Round 3.

East Coasters Continue To Thrive Near Home

Quentin Turko (USA) winning his Roudn 2 heat at the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000. Quentin Turko led another East Coast surge to continue their success into Round 2. WSL / John Ferguson

East Coasters thrived once more alongside the Japanese contingent with North Carolina's Quentin Turko starting it off. Turko's reliable backhand provided the Round 2 Heat 4 victory with a 7.00. The 21-year-old is riding on some quality momentum through the East Coast run he's taken advantage of with a win at the recent Oakley Shop Challenge at one of his home breaks in the Outer Banks.

"I always stress when it comes down to conditions like this so that felt really good to win a heat again," Turko said. "My plan was to just wait for those sets and if that meant waiting 15 minutes without a wave then so be it, I'd rather lose like that then getting a bunch of low scores without priority. I've always liked my backhand on smaller waves since when we get those summer south swells back home it gets me going on it. Having some events before a major one like this is always nice and just gets the momentum going so to help win that shop challenge gave me huge motivation coming here."

Noah Schweizer (USA) winning his Round 2 heat at the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000 on Friday, August 23, 2019. Current North America No. 1 Noah Schweizer looks to regain his momentum toward taking out his first Regional Title. WSL / John Ferguson

Fellow East Coast native and current North America No. 1 Noah Schweizer put on a brilliant debut performance. Schweizer's early exit in Acapulco has the 23-year-old fired up for a big result on his home coast and started brilliantly with a 14.53 of his own. But, it wasn't all a breeze for Schweizer who had to do his share of waiting along with the other competitors with multiple lay days before getting in the water.

"I've been itching to surf a heat the last few days so that was great finally getting the first one out of the way after it was building up nerves a bit more," Schweizer said. "We've been fishing a bit and just having fun with a little competition of our own but Evan (Geiselman) has taken it a bit seriously (laughs). This is just like home to me though and I feel a lot more comfortable here which hopefully translates to a big result because I just want to get some points going again."

Blake Speir (USA) winning his Round 2 heat at the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000. Blake Speir made up ground after a heavy early loss in the Pro Juniors. WSL / John Ferguson

Floridian Blake Speir earned a big Round 2 heat win after an early exit in the Pro Junior to keep the East Coast momentum going alongside South Carolina's Micha Cantor.

Californian's Cap Off Wins Before Event Stoppage

John Mel (USA) winning his Round 2 heat at the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000. John Mel debuted strong alongside his Californian contingent with a Round 2 win. WSL / John Ferguson

California's Jake Kelley made due with the tougher conditions as the high tide pushed up.

Joining in on the action, Levi Slawson continues a dream run between both the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000 and Pro Junior with two victories under his belt in both events - earning a spot into Round 3 and Quarterfinals, respectively. Fellow Californian Jake Kelley also debuted strong with a Round 2 victory alongside John Mel, as well as Brasilian Franklin Serpa.

Event organizers will reconvene at 7:00am EDT to determine a possible 7:20am EDT start to Round 2 Heat 13 of the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000.

The events will run August 20 - 25 at 1st Street Jetty, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

CLICK HERE FOR VANS PRO VIRGINIA BEACH, VA QS 3,000 ROUND 2 RESULTS

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