The stage is set for opening day at the World Surf League (WSL) Coastal Edge Steel Pier Classic presented by Katin, a North America Longboard Regional Qualifying Series (LQS) 1,000, that will determine North America's qualifiers for the 2023 Longboard Tour (LT). Some of the region's top competitors are in attendance to vie for the regional title and their place among the world's best later this year. The iconic 1st Street Jetty of Virginia Beach will play host to the season's conclusion, joining the 20th year of Coastal Edge Steel Pier Classic legacy.
Current North America No. 2 Avalon Gall finished with a Semifinal appearance at the Surfing For Hope Longboard Classic and, with No. 1 Rachael Tilly not in attendance, has an opportunity to overtake the regional title and requalify for the Longboard Tour. Gall's presence among some of the world's best has helped shape her competitive surfing and continues to show she belongs among the elite level, earning a Quarterfinal in Spain and Semifinal finish at the Cuervo Surf Ranch Classic. But, she must garner a big result to claim the No. 1 spot and her place back on the Longboard Tour.
"I'm really excited and grateful for these opportunities, and getting to travel with all my friends," said Gall. "It's going to be my first time in Virginia Beach and I've heard some good things about it so I'm just hoping for the best. It's amazing when contests like this have been around for so long and I'm just happy they're letting us come and compete, and try to get back on [the Longboard] Tour which I'm really excited to do."
The men's regional title is also up for grabs in a tight race that current North America No. 1 Richie Cravey holds heading into Virginia Beach. The 34-year-old put on a showcase in his first-ever WSL event in Pismo Beach, overtaking 2022 World Title runner-up Kaniela Stewart in their Semifinal clash before falling just short of the event win to Longboard Tour veteran Kai Sallas. Now, Cravey prepares for a new venue and brings what he's learned for an opportunity to join the world's best this year.
"The Pismo Beach event was my first WSL event ever and it was a little intimidating, but I definitely learned a lot and now this will be another new experience I'm looking forward to," said Cravey. "I've never surfed on the East Coast and when I found out the final event of the season will be in Virginia Beach I thought it was a very exciting opportunity. And, just looking at the roster, it looks like it's going to be a stacked event and obviously a lot of people vying for position so it should be a lot of excitement."
Cravey will bring his best for the likes of three-time WSL Longboard Champion, wildcard entry, Joel Tudor, Longboard Tour veteran Longboard Tour Kevin Skvarna, who looks to rejoin the world's best after finishing No. 11 in 2022, 2019 North America Longboard Regional Champion Steven McLean, Virginia Beach's own Parker Sawyer, newcomer Jack Van Wagoner, and more looking for their piece of Virginia Beach history.
Event organizers will convene at 7:30 a.m. EDT to determine a likely 8:00 a.m. start to competition.
The Coastal Edge Steel Pier Classic presented by Katin will run at 1st Street Jetty in Virginia Beach, beginning May 27 - 29.