All attention turns toward the East Coast in preparation for the Men's Qualifying Series (QS) Vans Pro in Virginia Beach, VA August 23 - 28 and the WRV Outer Banks Pro on the shores of Nags Head, NC August 31 - September 4. With a total of 4,000 points on offer, these events can help shuffle the fortune of many QS surfers and serve as a momentum builder heading into the back half of the 2016 season.
The Vans Pro Men's QS3000 returns to the schedule alongside the illustrious East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC), which is in its 54th consecutive year of running -- the longest-running event in North America and second only to Bells Beach in the world. The event played an important part for Kanoa Igarashi's (USA) qualification campaign with a vital win that later helped usher him into the Championship Tour (CT).
Following the Vans Pro, many of the surfers continue down the coast to Jeannette's Pier on the shores of Nags Head, NC for the WRV Outer Banks Pro QS1000. Joining the WSL schedule in 2014, the event title has remained on the East Coast with Virginia Beach's Michael Dunphy (USA) winning in 2014, after claiming the Vans Pro just a few days prior, and Jacksonville Beach, Fla. native Asher Nolan (USA) earning a win last year.
Both the 1st Street Jetty in Virginia Beach and the eco-friendly Jeannette's Pier of Nags Head offer contestable beachbreaks that are open to every type of swell. With hurricane season in full effect on the East Coast, anticipation is building to see what the ocean will deliver throughout the event windows.
Dunphy will have his eyes set on a second Vans Pro title to gain some headway in the 2016 season and make a charge in the second half of the year.
"Winning two years ago was huge, I didn't realize there were that many people backing me and that was a highlight of my career," Dunphy said. When you're around the world competing, it's pretty much just you against the ocean and not many means of support. Coming here with everyone around me, it's a different kind of feel and it's great to have that once a year."
"I definitely feel like I'm a better surfer now then I was two years ago," Dunphy added. "I've just had a rough patch of results lately and and this year has been frustrating. I've had some close heats not go my way so I really want to do well in one event just to get that mindset and rhythm back. It's just a matter of finding that rhythm and going from there, which is the hardest part, but I want it."
Evan Geiselman returns to Virginia Beach for the sixth straight year in search of his second 2016 win after an impressive victory over Leonardo Firovanti (ITL) at the Ichinomiya Chiba Open QS6000. The New Smyrna Beach, Fla. native knows what it takes to win in smaller conditions and sees this event as an opportunity to keep the winning feeling alive and well. Currently at No. 10 on the QS rankings, Geiselman will look for a big result here to begin dropping his throwaways.
"To get another win would be huge, if you can get first or second I think that's a low keeper so they're definitely important -- and just for momentum it's always nice making heats to stay confident," Geiselman said. "I feel comfortable with the conditions we'll probably get. Usually it's hard being excited when it's so small but, being from the East Coast, most days are tiny so I just treat it as a normal surf. I've never done as good as I would like in VB so hopefully I have some rhythm this year. But, it's the only East Coast event you know isn't going anywhere so it's awesome knowing there's a solid event there and always a fun week."
Three-time WRV Outer Banks Pro Champion Asher Nolan (USA) will return to defend his title and also compete in the Vans Pro QS3000. Nolan may have stepped away from the full-time QS grind, but is one to watch on his home coast. He's staying in tune with the ocean while helping today's youth progress their surfing as part of the Hurley team and still keeping his own skills razor sharp.
"I'm super excited to be going back to Outer Banks, even if I wasn't competing I think I'd still go back because it's just a good time," Nolan said. "ECSC is always such a good event in the competitive sense with all the bigger names out, then going to Outer Banks is great to see all the up-and-coming guys really shine. I like to help guide those kids and try to give them understanding, which in turn has helped me become better at surfing heats while coaching them. I'm focusing more on heats and watching more than I ever have so it's really cool to get in that mindset."