A historic Finals Day at the World Surf League (WSL) Vans Pro, Stop No. 2 of the 2022/23' North America Qualifying Series (QS) season, crowned Alyssa Spencer and Jett Schilling its 2022 event victors. Spencer overtook Sawyer Lindblad in the first-ever women's QS Final at Virginia Beach before Schilling went wave-for-wave with Owen Mossto earn his first-career QS win. This marks the first QS 3000 of the North America QS season and joined the 60th Annual Coastal Edge East Coast Surf Championships, now the longest-consecutively ran event in the world.
A dream finish for Schilling earned him his maiden QS victory after already claiming a Final appearance in 2022. The 19-year-old caught fire from the start and didn't let up until getting his chair-up after a comeback win against an in-form Moss.
Moss began the heat with a solid, two-score lead over Schilling who answered back with his defiant backhand to garner a 7.50 (out of a possible 10). But, the two continued to battle as Schilling added an excellent 8.67 with more major maneuvers on the running righthanders coming through 1st Street Jetty while his opponent dropped a 7.77 just behind him. Schilling sat under priority and had to watch Moss take off with under a minute remaining, but Moss couldn't convert and left the San Clemente, California competitor out the back to wait out the final horn.
"My first QS win, I'm so stoked," said Schilling. "There were a lot of guys ripping out here so to win is amazing. This is big for my confidence and hopefully I can bring that back to the Challenger Series because I want to be on Tour someday."
Schilling had to overcome an in-form Tomas King in their Semifinal clash that pushed Schilling's performance before an all-important Final. This result catapults Schilling atop the North America rankings heading into the WRV Outer Banks Pro pres. by Pacifico, where another 1,000 points await him and fellow contenders.
Spencer Makes History, First Women's Vans Pro QS Winner
For Spencer, this marks a capstone event in women's surfing history and the young Californian's career with her seventh WSL East Coast event win.
The first-ever women's QS to hit Virginia Beach concluded in a showcase from the 19-year-old with her decimating backhand attack to take down North America No. 1 Lindblad in dominant form. Spencer's second effort warranted a 7.50 to push Lindblad before adding a 6.83 utilizing priority and left her San Clemente, California opponent in need of a 9.30.
"It's pretty amazing to win, I love coming back to the East Coast every time and just have so much fun over here," said Spencer. "I definitely feel good getting 3,000 points this early on in the season, it takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders. I'll put all my focus into the end of the Challenger Series year now and see how it goes."
The Championship Tour (CT) qualification threat dismantled the East Coast's last remaining hope of claiming the event win in Zoe Benedetto before her dominant Finals performance. This result moves Spencer up to No. 2 on the North America rankings behind Lindblad.
Valuable Runner-Ups For Moss and Lindblad Bank Major Points
A career-best finish for Moss landed him right beside Schilling on the podium in his first Finals appearance. Moss's road to Final was no easy challenge after taking down former event finalist Cam Richards in their Semifinal clash that had Moss earning an excellent 8.33 to all but close the door on his opponent. Now, the emerging competitor looks for more heading into the Outer Banks.
"Hard work pays off," said Moss. "I've been working so much physically and mentally, and I'm very grateful right now. My goal is to make the Challenger Series this year. I'll just try to stay focused, repeat, and keep working as hard as I can."
With a runner-up finish, Lindblad retains her No. 1 spot on the North America rankings as she turns her focus to the next event after a jaw-dropping event from start to finish landed her in a second-consecutive Final on the QS. The 17-year-old had a similar start to 2020, earning a win and runner-up, and returns to that brilliant form once again after overtaking fellow Challenger Series threat Kirra Pinkerton in a preview of more from what North America's strong continent hold.
"It feels really good to start the new season off with a first and a second," said Lindblad. "I'm really excited for the next events and the rest of the season. Moving forward, I just want to stay consistent an work even harder to get another win."
Stop No. 3 of the North America QS season awaits at the WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Pacifico QS 1000 beginning LIVE August 31 - September 4 at Jeanette's Pier, Nags Head, North Carolina.