Barbados' Che Allan brought a Qualifying Series (QS) trophy back to his home island for the first time in a decade after Puerto Rico's Josie Graves won the previous event run at Soup Bowl in 2007. Allan overcame an explosive start from an in-form Chauncey Robinson in the Final of the Thomo QS1000 in Memory of Bill Thomson for his first-ever QS win.
An amazing event in honor of the late Bill "Thomo" Thomson, considered a father of Barbados surfing, culminated between two of the standouts and did not disappoint as Allan and Robinson went head-to-head. But, in the end, it was Allan who came out on top with 1,000 points toward the QS rankings.
Allan found himself in a steep combination situation, meaning he needed two new waves, after Robinson opened up with an excellent 8.90 (out of a possible 10) on powerful forehand attacks. The Melbourne, Florida, native quickly backed up his score with a 6.50 and put Allan under pressure early on. But, Allan scratched his way back when he found a 7.83 to get back in the heat and it came down to one last critical exchange in the dying seconds where the Barbadian earned a 7.70, to claim his first-ever QS victory.
"Going back-to-back from last weekend's local event to now this is just incredible," Allan said. "I was a little rattled at the start, but I got that six to just clear my mind and then that seven to keep picking away at it because that 6.50 he had didn't keep him safe. We both made some mistakes out there with giving away priority, but it felt great to get that last score in the end and steal the win."
The Barbadian was a clear event favorite after brilliant performances throughout the contest and eliminating fellow Barbadian Josh Burke in the Quarterfinals. Allan had one of the event's strongest performers, Gabriel Morvil, in a combination to start the Semifinals and never looked back before an impressive finish -- though his focus still lies on tomorrow's Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia.
"That heat with Josh [Burke] was the hardest heat looking back at the event," Allan said. "I knew if I could beat him I had a really good chance to win or that's where it would end. I wasn't really focused on the QS at all which I think helped me get this Final, but my focus is making rounds tomorrow and staying in the Top 4 for worlds."
This marks Robinson's best QS result of his career after an incredible performance nearly had him chaired up the beach until the final seconds. The Floridian's road to the Final included stacked bouts against fellow East Coaster Luke Gordon in the Quarterfinals and goofyfoot threat John Mel in the Semifinals. But, it wasn't to be and now Robinson prepares for another year in 2018.
"I'm psyched on making it to the Final here, it's a wave that I know I can always rely on to get a good result and where I'm confident in my surfing," Robinson said. "I was fired up to get that 8.90 to start the heat after every heat before I couldn't get better than a seven, but Che suckered me in to a few -- including that last one. This was such a great event and it'll will be the last event of the year for me and start looking ahead to next year."
Morvil, a North Carolina native, may have been stopped in the Semifinals, but not before the damage was done and spectators, along with his fellow competitors, got to see a glimpse of his potential. Morvil's Junior Tour career ended today as well after a loss in Round Two of the Live Like Zander Junior Pro and he now moves into a full-time QS career where he can take this momentum.
John Mel, however, is still alive in the junior event here at Soup Bowl and has the opportunity to secure his place into the World Junior Championships after a great performance in the QS event. This also marks Mel's last year on the Junior Tour, as he eyes a trip to Kiama in January.
The next North America QS event will be the Pismo Beach Open Men's QS1,000.