Team Rip Curl Cleans Up at the 57th Annual East Coast Surfing Championship!
The World Surf League (WSL) Vans Pro Virginia Beach, VA, a Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000-level event and Pro Junior, crowned Luke Gordon (Pawleys Island, S.C.) and Crosby Colapinto (San Clemente, Calif.) its respective winners after a blistering final day of competition. Conditions improved even more from the start of Saturday’s Nor’easter and provided three-to-four foot windswell that Gordon and Colapinto put on an impressive showcase in throughout their run to the Final.
A week of picking apart the tides at 1st Street Jetty culminated into one of the most exciting Finals witnessed in recent memory at the Vans Pro. A big opening exchange between Gordon, fellow South Carolina native Cam Richards, and Virginia Beach’s own Michael Dunphy had the eventual winner posting an excellent 8.33 (out of a possible 10) over his East Coast contingent along with Australia’s Sheldon Simkus. The South Carolina native continued building his score line and pushing ahead until the final exchange witnessed all East Coasters get last-second waves to move the Australian to fourth. For Gordon, it proved to be his best of the event and posted a near-perfect 9.27 to close out his QS 3,000 victory.
“That was literally a dream come true getting to surf a Final with those guys and I can't believe that happened," Gordon said. "I grew up watching them surf and do all their craziness. Then Cam started with that 7, then I got an 8 and Dunphy got an 8 -- and the energy was just building. It just came down that last second.”
This marks Gordon’s second-career win after earning his first last month at the Surf Open Acapulco and moves him nearly 50 spots up the rankings to inside the Top 40. The newest threat to QS elite now prepares for a major European leg in hopes of continuing this incredible momentum through a prolific summer.
"It hasn't really hit me yet but it's going to," Gordon added. "I feel like I'm in a dream and someone's going to pinch me then I'll wake up and it's today again (laughs). I knew with this northeast wind, that's my bread and butter, and I love this stuff. I grew up surfing waves like this and I just went into heat thinking surf this round, then before my next heat I'd just think 'Well I made it this far, just make the next one.' Then I was in the Final and didn't even think about winning but when the horn blew I just thought why not just go for it."
The Vans Pro Junior Final witnessed it’s own brilliant performances led by San Clemente’s Colapinto in dominant fashion to finish. Florida’s Tommy Coleman kept pace on the opening exchange before Colapinto took over the affair with a 14.80 (out of a possible 20) using his combination of powerful turns and aerial flair. Japan’s Miyu Furukawa (JPN) made a late charge that pushed him to the runner-up spot, edging out Coleman to third-place and Jett Schilling (San Clemente, Calif.) to fourth -- his second of 2019.
“It’s so good since I haven’t done that well in the Pro Juniors this year so I’m stoked to finally get a win,” Colapinto said. “I signed up late so I wasn’t meant to make it in but I’m thankful for the wildcard and psyched it worked out the way it did. I felt really focused and confident in my surfing after preparing all week leading up to this event by training at home, and now I’m here.”
“For the rest of the year I’m going to be more focused on the QS, even though I want to get back to Worlds, I’ll be putting more work toward QS events looking ahead,” Colapinto added. Credit: WSL / WSLQS. Photos: Patrick Ruddy and WSL