The shores of Belmar Beach, NJ will once again play host to the World Surf League (WSL) Men's Qualification Series (QS) Pacifico Belmar Pro QS1000 and Fins Pro Juniors. The event window begins Thursday, September 9, 2015 with an international field of talented surfers to showcase their best efforts in the back half of the Men's QS, and final three events of the Pro Juniors, season.
Hailing from St. Augustine, FL, Gabe Kling (USA) returns as defending champion after defeating Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in last year's final. Kling is more than ready for the challenge on hand and is looking to retain his crown of Belmar as he has slowed down on the competition life of surfing.
"I am excited to be back in New Jersey and competing," Kling said. "Last year was a blast. I love doing all these east coast contests and after not competing for a while I'm pretty fired up. Hopefully we get some waves."
Kling has enjoyed his time here in the past and finds Belmar a unique experience separate from other events.
"It is fun doing the contests here," Kling added. "It is like a second home to me. I get to stay with the family and I had a great cheering squad last year! Hopefully I can do well again, the pressure is on. I have been lucky and I seem to get swell when I'm up here - it gets really good."
Claiming a Pro Junior victory last year, Josh Burke (BRB) is back for more and wants the maximum points yet again with a good mindset. Entering the first of the final three events in this year's 2015 North America Junior Series, Burke has a chance to make up a lot of ground and enter the Top 10.
"I am really trying not to think about it much to avoid putting any pressure on myself but it is defiantly in the back of my mind," Burke said. "It's a nice feeling being the defending champ and hopefully I can back it up. Last year the waves changed every day, so each morning I had to adjust and decide where the best waves were. I surfed on a different peak every heat just taking one heat at a time."
Burke will also be competing in the Men's QS1000 event to keep his competitive edge. Last year he was in a great position to qualify for the World Junior Championships and it is still on his mind as he currently sits at no.13 on the North America Pro Junior Rankings. With the task at hand, the 18-year-old still enjoys his time in Belmar - only making him more dangerous as he finds a comfort zone here.
"I was sitting in 17th overall in the standings and I worked out the night before that I needed to win the event in order to qualify for the World Junior Championships so I did go into the final day of competition with the goal to win," Burke said. "I love New Jersey. I caught the waves really good one year and the environment is really cool. I like the boardwalk set up and nearby neighborhoods. I have some good friends that live in the area so I usually hang with them."
Tomorrow's 7:30am Call will determine an 8am Start for the Fins Junior Pro with the first three rounds of competition scheduled to take place. Look for the live webcast over the weekend on Saturday and Sunday at www.belmarpro.com.