Opening day at the World Surf League (WSL) Vans Pro, Stop No. 2 of the North America Qualifying Series (QS), brought QS action back to Virginia Beach for the first since 2019. Men's early battles unfolded in two-foot windswell that tested their patience and determination as the Round of 112 and 96 were completed in their entirety before women's Round of 48 got underway. Vans Pro QS 3000 competition rejoins the Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC) in its 60th consecutive year of running.
Izzi Gomez, Chelsea Roett Lead Women's Historic Opening Day Charge at Vans Pro
A historic start for women at the Vans Pro unfolded with opening day magic from Round of 48 competitors looking to earn their spot into the top-seeded Round of 32. Izzi Gomez locked her name in as the first heat victor of a QS competition at Virginia Beach's 1st Street Jetty. The California-transplant came prepared and finds herself into the Round of 32 with a heat win under her belt.
"I'm stoked and just glad that there's a wave coming through," said Gomez. "Sometimes we get unlucky with conditions and the East Coast can get a bad rap, but it can get really good over here. Growing up in Florida I always struggled making heats in small waves so this gives me some confidence."
This marks a crucial heat win for Chelsea Roett who hasn't found her form so far in 2022 and now moves into the Round of 32 in great fashion. One of Barbados' QS warriors, Roett looks to notch a big result with the East Coast leg awaiting her and felt the joy of early success once more to kick her campaign off.
"I feel a little emotional actually because that's the first heat win I've had in a long time," said Roett. "It's so nice to get one and to have two events back-to-back helps a lot with the travel from home in Barbados. This is great to finally have a QS here after I used to come to the ECSC and won it a few years ago so this is a big opportunity for us."
Maiden Vans Pro QS Debuts Lead to Early Success for Isauro Elizando, Curran Dand
An astonishing performance from Panama's Isauro Elizondo left the beach applauding on his return to the sand with a day's best 15.00 heat total. This marks Elizando's first event in the Vans Pro QS 3000 after competing in the Pro Junior and ECSC in years past. Now, the Panama competitor looks for more among North America's top-tier surfers.
"I got pretty lucky in that heat and we had a lot of waves coming through with 6s and 7s being scored," said Elizando. "My 7.83 actually came under priority and then it was good to be in the rotation for my 7.17. I'm super stoked and that's been my best heat total on the QS so far and it's hard to surf these conditions, but you just have to keep fighting."
San Clemente, California adds another rising talent to its deep talent pool as Curran Dand (USA) finished his opening day with two heat wins - helping eliminate higher seeds Max Beach and Jared Brandon Goguein the Round of 96. This marks Dand's first time competing in Virginia Beach as he shook the nerves to deliver one of the day's best performances of a 13.54 heat total.
"I was a little nervous last night with this being my first competition here so that felt great to start like that," said Dand. "It felt like everyone was kind of battling for priority closer to the jetty so it was nice to stay away from that and get some waves under priority. I don't think I caught any of my top scores with priority (laughs)."
Fellow San Clemente competitor Cannon Carr also notched a big Round of 96 win with a day's best single-wave score of an excellent 8.50.
Costa Ricans Surge Through Opening Day
A familiar face in Tomas King put on a clinic in his return to QS competition with a Round of 112 and 96 victory. The Costa Rican was joined by fellow compatriot Darshan Antequera into the top-seeded Round of 64 with plenty of momentum. King's competitive history at Virginia Beach reached a Quarterfinal best in 2017 and comes back after time away with a renewed outlook.
"I'm really excited to do another QS, it's been a long time so I feel good," said King. "I know I've put in a lot of work and haven't had time to do a lot of events, but I'm stoked to keep surfing. It's completely different coming back into these after working at home. I have a positive mindset, I have a good routine at home and that's all that's really mattered is that I'm healthy and happy."
Fellow Costa Rican Sam Reidy also charged into the Round of 64 with a solid showing.
Also notching clutch, Round of 96 victories included Virginia Beach's own Blayr Barton, Alex Lima, earning an excellent 8.17 in the process, Cole McCaffray, Titus Kaimana Santucci, Reed Platenius, Brad Ettinger, Owen Moss, Gianmarco Oliva, Wesley Santos, and newcomer Petey Romaniuk.
A 7:30 a.m. EDT call will determine a possible 8:00 am. EDT start for competition.
The Vans Pro QS 3000 will run August 23 - 28 at 1st Street Jetty, Virginia Beach.