Courtesy of WSL North America
-Schulz lets loose to take down Ian Crane in the final
– all San Clemente final brings event title to California
– more information available AT WORLDSURFLEAGUE.COM
|HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Friday, March 23, 2018) – A marathon finals day of competition witnessed Kevin Schulz (USA) claim his maiden Qualifying Series (QS) victory at the World Surf League (WSL) Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 in phenomenal fashion. It was a race to the finish as both Schulz and eventual runner-up Ian Crane (USA) paddled out on five different occasions before day’s end to earn the top two spots.
An all San Clemente, California, Final affair between Crane and Schulz ensued, but it was Schulz who took his first-ever QS victory with an event-best 17.10 (out of a possible 20) heat total.
“I surfed a lot of heats today and I’m really tired, but I can’t stop smiling — I’m over the moon,” Schulz said. “My whole family is here and to have that Final with Ian [Crane] was great just to keep it in town. I couldn’t hear any scores just with the wind so I was just freesurfing out there and I came in from the water to my family clapping, and just couldn’t believe it.”
Schulz’s air-game was intact and overwhelmed his hometown opponent with a near-perfect 9.50 (out of a possible 10), double-grab rotation, to put Crane in a combination situation — meaning Crane needed two new waves to equal Schulz’s total. The 22-year-old came out of the water in pure elation and exhaustion after steaming through Round 4, 5, Quarterfinal and Semifinal bouts he narrowly escaped with last-minute efforts. The win also moves him just 20-points shy of North America Regional QS Rankings No. 1.
““It’s just so close to home, I grew up surfing here throughout all the NSSA, and to win against the field that was here is just insane,” Schulz added. “I couldn’t even dream of winning this thing. I feel like I didn’t peak until the Final and those leading up to it were pretty stressful, knowing I wasn’t doing my best surfing. But, now I’ve got some points going and I want to keep this going to the bigger events, and hopefully start getting into those QS 6,000s by the cutoff.”
Though Schulz’s performance cast a shadow over Crane in the Final, the QS veteran was no slouch en route to the final horn. The 24-year-old eliminated an in-form Jordy Collins (USA), 2017 North America Regional QS Champion, in the Semifinals and overcame 2018 QS threat Jake Marshall (USA) with a buzzer-beater. Crane’s ambitions remain high and this result gave him yet another boost of confidence, as well as momentum heading forward.
“I didn’t take my wetsuit off once today and I’m definitely feeling it,” Crane said laughing. “There was a lot of big names in the event and just to make the Final feels pretty good. Pretty bummed I lost it, but it’s the first Final I’ve ever made. I’m trying to figure out the more competitive side of surfing heats still and learning what to do after I’ve made some mistakes. I’m back into the QS 6,000s and QS 10,000s again this year and my goal is to be in that Top 10 by the end of the year.”
Nolan Rapoza’s (USA) form was on point throughout the weekend’s action that culminated in a Semifinal appearance before heading off to Barbados. The 20-year-old was a standout until facing elimination by eventual winner, Schulz, and will walk away with 840 valuable points toward the international QS rankings — and 560 toward regional rankings.
Also earning a big Semifinal result, Jordy Collins (USA) stunned the event with a huge win over former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Alex Ribeiro (BRA) in the Quarterfinals. This is Collins’ first North America QS event after claiming the Regional Title in 2017 and looks toward competing in the QS 10,000s – beginning with the Ballito Pro in South Africa later this year.
North America Men’s Qualifying Series Rankings Top 5:
Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 Final Results:
Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 Semifinal Results:
Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 Quarterfinal Results:
Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 Round Five Results:
Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 Round Four Results:
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