East Coast Pro Comp Season Summons Blue-Collar Pros & Silver-Spoon Ams
- August 22, 2017
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The O’Neill/Sweetwater Pro-Am Surf Fest lit the fuze, where else will blow up?
Yesterday, Rob Kelly won the the O’Neill/Sweetwater Pro-Am Surf Fest in Wrightsville Beach, NC.
This signaled the start of Pro Comp Season on the East Coast. Every weekend for the next month, competitive surfers will have a professional contest to look forward to — Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York — with three others scheduled for later this fall in Florida and the Caribbean.
Many, like the 55-year-old ECSC, are bona fide Right Coast institutions that pride themselves on their perpetuity. Others, like the King of the Peak, are specialty events reanimated due to overwhelming demand. All offer cash money to entrants who make enough heats. (Which, by definition, is exactly what makes them pro contests.) So whether you’re a working-class pro or a fast-track am, here’s seven contests you should be targeting, provided you can get into ‘em. (VB’s a QS3,000, so not likely, but Puerto Rico will take anyone who pays the APSPR’s $112 annual membership fee.)
And if you’re not a pro? If you don’t need the money? If you have no ranking? Well, hell… you should still consider going. The following list represents the hottest surf ragers happening in these communities all year long.
1. WSL Men’s QS3,000 Vans Pro & WSL Junior 1,000 Vans Pro Junior @ Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC); August 22-27, 2017; First Street Jetty, Virginia Beach, VA
Who’s on first? “ECSC will always be a special event for me. I grew up watching guys like Bruce Irons, Adriano de Souza and Tom Curren coming to surf in it, and I looked up to them like they were gods. So to now be able to surf in the event with all the support I get from the local community is something I’m really grateful for. It reminds me of being a kid, putting on a jersey, surfing a heat at First Street.” –Michael Dunphy, 2014 Vans Pro champion
What’s your offer? Mad paper, yo. But since you won’t be surfing in the Main Event (unless you have a decent enough WSL seed), at least there’s the notoriously raucous Coastal Edge Miss ECSC Swimsuit Pageant to placate you.
Why bother? “To celebrate the 55th Anniversary of the second-oldest continually run surfing championship in the world, and our motto is ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ and did we mention… zzzzzz. Chamber of commerce propaganda aside, ECSC is basically the Right Coast’s answer to the US Open. The waves will be small, the crowds will be big, the pros will be ripping, and someone will most definitely go to jail.
What else ya got? SurfECSC.com
2. WSL Men’s QS1,000 Wave Riding Vehicles (WRV) Outer Banks Pro Presented by Pacifico; August 30-September 3, 2017; Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, NC
Who’s on first? “The Outer Banks Pro is amazing — a chance for all us East Coast guys to see friends we’ve made over the years, and maybe pocket a lil’ cash. Kind of a bummer it’s a WSL event, though, because not as many guys get to do it as before, but the place and the waves are why I show up. I’m not in it this year, but I hope to hang out, watch the comp and cheer on my friends, and hopefully score some epic surf.” –Aaron Cormican, 2002, 2012 Outer Banks Pro champion
What’s your offer? Again, paper and points for the pros. Although not as much, this being a QS1,000 and all.
Why bother? Because it’s only three days and an hour-and-a-half away from the last contest.Because it’s the only time all year when top pro athletes come to the northern Outer Banks in hordes, providing a crucial archetype for local groms to emulate. And because there’s a bunch of creepy new sandbars popping up from the recent beach nourishment, so there’s a good chance you’ll get totally, baroquely barreled.
What else ya got? WRVOBXPro.com
3. Monster Belmar Invitational Presented by Eastern Lines; September 8-10, 2017; 17th Avenue, Belmar, NJ
Who’s on first? “Belmar is one of my favorite pro events of the season. It’s the only one in Jersey, and the chance for fun surf is pretty high that time of year. Scott Goodwin and Don Tarrant do a good job of making everything enjoyable for the athletes and spectators. And the surf community really gets behind it, taking advantage of the opportunity to see professional-level talent and competition at one of our local breaks.” –Rob Kelly, 2016 Belmar Pro runner-up
What’s your offer? Though relinquishing its WSL stamp a couple years back, the event’s newest incarnation, the Monster Belmar Invitational, is still kicking with a yet-to-be-disclosed prize purse for several divisions: the Fins Mens Pro Invitational/Open, the Playa Bowls Womens Open, the SRH Legends Open, the Open Junior Pro and the Longboard Open.
Why bother? Did you not see last week’s Surfline Cam Rewind of Belmar going bananas from Hurricane Gert? Our forecasting team lost six keyboards to excessive drooling. So there’s that. There’s also parades and parties, demos and signings, vendors and giveaways, bands and premieres… And pizza. It’s Jersey, bro. The Boss might not show up, but you can bet your ass there’ll be pizza.
What else ya got? BelmarPro.com
4. Unsound Surf Pro Presented by RVCA; September 13-17, 2017; Long Beach, NY
Who’s on first? “I look forward to the Unsound Pro every year. It has better waves than most QS events, and it’s at home with all the boys who grew up surfing together. It’s just a fun couple days in #LongbeachNYnotCalifornia.” –Balaram Stack, 2010 Unsound Pro champion
What’s your offer? The Unsound brand in general is synonymous with gritty, hardcore shredding with heaps of attitude and no bullshit. So naturally, their comp features only one division, the Open Pro, where a $5,000 purse shimmers like ODB’s grill.
Why bother? Strategically scheduled to run during peak Hurricane Season without interference from other comps, this is New York’s largest and longest-running surfing event. Beginning as a local pro/am in September 1999 before a confusing, short-lived adolescence as the Quiksilver Pro New York, the Unsound Pro has returned to its roots as a legal adult. And sanctioning or no sanctioning, it will party like one.
What else ya got? UnsoundSurf.com
5. APSPR (Association of Professional Surfing of Puerto Rico) Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit O’Neill Series; October 13-15, 2017; Playa Middles, Isabela, PR
Who’s on first? “I’m the back-to-back winner going into the third event, so I kinda have to go [laughs]. I never want to miss an event in my hometown, and over the past few years we’ve gotten a wide international field: the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Hawaii, California, Peru… And the spectators that come down to watch really freak out; last time there were 3,000 people cheering on the beach. It’s basically a party event, but one that’s progressed immensely since day one.” –Brian Toth, defending series winner
What’s your offer? Try $25k for the Men’s and $12k for the Women’s. Winners get $10k and $5k, respectively. Plus, they typically throw in another $1,000 for Best Performance (highest heat total of the event). Them’s big bucks in any language.
Why bother? Because one doesn’t require a WSL ranking to enter. Because gringos finally have a chance to surf Middles without getting snaked or slapped. And because even if you lose first heat, you’re still lost in paradise — hot vampish women, bottomless potent drinks… It’s basically Dante with sunburn and a scrotum rash.
What else ya got? APSPR.net
6. WSL Junior 1,000 Barbados Junior Surf Pro; November 9-12, 2017; Soup Bowl, Bathsheba, St. Joseph, Barbados
Who’s on first? “The Men’s event will be [called] the WSL Thomo QS1,000 in memory of Bill Thomson, the father of competitive surfing in Barbados who played a major role in the development of Caribbean surfing. We’re currently working towards raising the funds to host the event, and in three days we’ve already raised over $3K of the $15k goal.” –Alan Burke, original Bajan pro
What’s your offer? While Burke and his Bajan brethren fight the good fight to get the Men’s event secured, the Junior Pro is a go for sure — it’s on the WSL website and everything — two of ‘em, in fact: boys and girls. All enjoying peak-season Soup Bowl, together.
Why bother? Hang out long enough before or after the event, and play your cards right (your credit cards, that is, this joint is expensive), and you just might get the wave of your life here. That’s right, your whole life. In the Atlantic. The Caribbean part.
What else ya got? https://www.facebook.com/billthomsonQSL1000
7. Quiksilver King of the Peak; November 4-12, 2017; Sebastian Inlet, Sebastian Inlet State Park, FL
Who’s on first? “It’s great to bring back the King of the Peak [after a five-year hiatus]. I think it’s important to give the new generations an opportunity to enjoy the skins format, where surfers are rewarded for throwing it all on the line for a single, claimed wave.” –Matt Kechele, former Floridian pro/ competition director
What’s your offer? How about $13,250 in prizemoney, including a $3000 bonus for the surfer claiming the most skins? At anywhere from $100 to $250 per skin, historically, this is one of the easiest comps to make your money back, and then some.
Why bother? Apparently, at this year’s KOP, local promotional kingpin Mitch Varnes is offering two wildcards for the new QS3,000 crashing Brevard County in January 2018, while the highest-placing junior will get a wildcard slot into the Ron Jon Beach ’N Board Festival’s Vans Junior Pro. And if you win the thing? In that case, you will leave the Inlet with four figures, as well as your name etched in history alongside two World Champions, Kelly Slater and CJ Hobgood.