Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA Kicks Off With Pro Junior Showcase

Courtesy of WSL North America

  • San Diego, California’s, Slawson Debuts With Dynamic Performance
  • Defending Event Winner Alves Survives An Early Scare
  • Challenging Conditions Test Vans Pro Junior Contingent
  • More Available At
Pictured: Levi Slawson (USA) tilted the scale with his Round 1 debut  at the Vans Pro Junior, garnering an impressive 16.53 heat total.
Credit: © WSL / Nichols

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia/USA (Tuesday, August 20, 2019) – The World Surf League (WSL) Vans Pro Junior kicked off action on opening day and some impressive performances were on display in the challenging one-to-two foot surf. North America’s top-tier talents 18-and-under are in attendance and spectators were treated to a glimpse of the showcase that awaits after competition ran Round 1 in its entirety while event organizers used the tides to maximize conditions.

The Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000 was called off for the day.

CAPTION: Cole Alves’ late charge catapulted him into a big victory after facing an early elimination scare.
CREDIT: © WSL / Nichols

Round 1 got underway with a hefty affair that included defending event winner Cole Alves (HAW), Blayr Barton (Virginia Beach, VA), Daniel Templar (BRA), and Ben Wingate (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.). Alves found himself in a scary position heading into the final minutes with Barton putting his local knowledge to use and Templar holding the runner-up spot, but the Maui, Hawaii, native held firm to lock in a 6.67 (out of a possible 10) and 7.50 to shutdown the heat with a win.

“That was a real nail-biter after I actually woke up late and had to rush down here to get a few waves in before the heat started (laughs),” Alves said. “Knowing I can pull off a last-minute win like that is really good moving forward but it’s a situation I don’t want to be in again. This is the first time I’ve come into an event as defending champ so I wasn’t too sure what to feel but it is a bit of extra confidence as well. It’s great to be back here with the good vibes all around and looking forward to having a good week.”

One of San Diego, California’s, next crop of strong competitors released a dynamic Round 1 Heat 2 debut as Levi Slawson found the day’s best two waves to garner an immaculate 16.53 (out of a possible 20) — accruing two excellent, meaning 8.00 (out of a possible 10) or higher, scores. Slawson, 16, continues to find his footing in the WSL competitive scene with explosive showings at last year’s Florida Pro QS 1,500 and RVCA Pro Junior. Now he looks to breakthrough toward his first Quarterfinals appearance after advancing to Round 2.

“I feel like I got a little lucky out there with those two waves coming to me, but I’ve had a lot of small-wave training at home with the lack of swell so I felt ready for this one,” Slawson said. “It’s good to be here after traveling for about six days coming the Mentawais but I came prepared with the epoxy boards here. It always feels good to get a heat win when it’s tough like that so I’m stoked and ready for the next one now.”

Caption: Afternoon conditions provided one last push to finish off Round 1 in its entirety with Jojo Whelan finding a gem in Heat 6. 
Credit: WSL/  Nichols
The event went on hold following Round 1 Heat 5 and once action resumed Newport Beach, California’s, Jojo Whelan took advantage of the improved conditions. Whelan’s quick start led to an eventual 7.00 to command the lead with Caleb Rapson (BRB) and Brodi Sale (HAW) battling for the runner-up spot until the final horn. The 16-year-old joins Slawson in finding his competitive footing but continues to impress in the Pro Juniors after his debut last season.

“I did the US Open but before that I broke my leg and was out for three months which was really rough but I’m stoked to come back with an improved mentality knowing I want to be in these events,” Whelan said. “I’ve found you just learn as you go and adjust your strategy to what’s happening in the heat. The more experience you get you start to realize more options and just what to do even more.”

Also locking in early wins, Japan’s Miyu Furakawa led the out-of-region contenders alongside Brasil’s Eduardo Motta (BRA) and Hawaii representatives Alves and Robert Grilho (HAW). But, Caleb Crozier (San Diego, Calif.) and Sam Reidy (CRI) held their own well for a Round 1 victory to move into Round 2 with some confidence.

Event organizers will reconvene at 7:00am EDT to determine a possible 7:30am EDT start for either Round 1 of the Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA QS 3,000 or Round 2 of the Vans Pro Junior.

The events will run August 20 – 25 at 1st Street Jetty, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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