A highly-anticipated finals day for Men's Qualifying Series (QS) contingent at the WRV Outer Banks Pro QS 1,000 presented by Pacifico did not disappoint as stacked match ups awaited to crown this year's victor. The fading swell made one last push to give competitors two-to-three foot, playful conditions that they did not let spoil as Noah Schweizer took down his second QS victory of 2019 alongside fellow Floridian Zoe Benedetto in her WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Sanuk dominance.
The men's field still maintained powerhouse threats that included two former event winners, an international contingent, and experienced East and West Coast competitors, but Schweizer was able to bring out his best surfing once more throughout finals day.
Schweizer Back Atop The Podium, And North America Rankings
The 23-year-old had to face defending event winner Renan Peres Pulga in an intense Final bout but had the edge in their first exchange with a 6.87 (out of a possible 10) to Pulga's 6.17. Schweizer wasn't done yet and continued to build his score line until posting the heat's best single-wave score of an excellent 8.20 and 15.87 (out of a possible 20) heat total -- earning his second victory of 2019.
"It feels so good just to win again, being here in the Outer Banks just feels like home and I just kept getting waves," Schweizer said. "The first win almost didn't feel real just having Evan (Geiselman) in there which was epic but then I had a slow run the last few events. But waves kept coming to me here which never happens and my board just felt insane -- which was the same board I rode at the Florida Pro actually."
Schweizer made his way through a Quarterfinal bout with Brasil's Kim Matheus Marcondes in dominant form before meeting an in-form Anthony Fillingim in the Semifinals but wasn't to be stopped with multiple excellent scores throughout the day. Just by making the Quarterfinals, Schweizer returned to No. 1 on the North America Regional QS rankings moving into the back-half of 2019.
"I kind of caught myself looking at the ratings too much and realized I just have to stop," Schweizer added. "You just have to surf and that's what I did here. It feels good to be back on top obviously but there's still more competitions so we'll see what happens."
Pulga Nearly Puts His Name In Outer Banks History
The WRV Outer Banks Pro defending event winner nearly pulled a historic back-to-back win but fell just shy against the decimating form of Schweizer. Pulga's explosive Semifinal affair against Jake Kelley witnessed both exchange excellent scores but the Brasilian remained poised after having to deal with 2016 event victor Kilian Garland in a highly-anticipated Quarterfinal. Now, Pulga sets his eyes on a much bigger prize moving forward.
"It was so good to come back here, this place is so special and the waves were so fun for the event," Pulga said. "It felt amazing to make that Final but I would've loved to win again. Noah was ripping in that heat and it was fun to try and surf against him. Now I'll get ready for the Azores for the QS 6,000 and I feel really good heading into that event with some momentum and good vibes from here."
Kelley and Fillingim: 560 Points For A Job Well Done
For California's Kelley, competing isn't everything with impressive freesurfing clips dropping throughout this and last year but when the 24-year-old puts on a jersey he brings that spark into a heat. Falling shy of the excellent requirement needed in the dying minutes of his Semifinal eliminated Kelley from competition, but not before showcasing his backhand attack and apt for aerial antics over fellow freesurf danger man Daniel Glenn in their Quarterfinal dual. Kelley bumps himself into No. 174 on the rankings with two finals day appearances in 2019 so far.
The Costa Rican duo of Fillingim and Tomas King nearly made a double showing in finals day but it was Fillingim who put on an exquisite show to cap off his event run. Fillingim took down one of the event favorites Chauncey Robinson in a hotly-contested Quarterfinal affair that witnessed the Costa Rican claw his way back into the heat and secure a Semifinals spot. But, that was the end of the road of the now QS No. 170 who will take this confidence moving forward into the year.