Finals Day is locked in at the World Surf League (WSL) Vans Pro, Stop No. 2 of the North America Qualifying Series (QS) 2022/23’ season, after an electric moving day of competition.
An uptick in swell provided clean, two-to-three foot opportunities and those in position were rewarded heavily.
Both the men’s and women’s Semifinal draws are set and competition witnessed head-to-head duals for the first time in Virginia Beach since 2012 starting with today's Quarterfinals.
A brilliant Quarterfinal display from Jett Schilling (USA) commanded a near-excellent heat total on his way to Finals Day. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
One of 2022’s in-form competitors Jett Schilling (USA) brings the confidence he’s garnered from the Challenger Series back to QS competition in great fashion.
The 19-year-old’s powerful backhand led to a one-sided affair against event standout Jabe Swierkocki (USA), who required a near-perfect score to overtake Schilling's 15.33 (out of a possible 20) heat total when the horn sounded.
Now, Schilling prepares for his second QS Finals Day of 2022, his fourth in overall WSL competitions.
"It would mean a lot (to win this event," said Schilling. "I'm just so stoked to keep going and feel like everything's working right now. Hopefully can keep it going into finals day and take it out."
Costa Rica's Tomas King is back from his hiatus of competitions and flourishing. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
Costa Rica took Virginia Beach by storm and Tomas King (CRI) now takes on Finals Day in hopes of making himself and his compatriots proud. King smashed his way over former event victor, hometown hero, Michael Dunphy (USA) in their Quarterfinal battle after winning his Round of 16 affair earlier in the morning. The former QS warrior hasn't competed in a WSL event since the beginning of 2020 and brings the fire back to the jersey.
"I made the Semifinals last time I was here and this time it's one-on-one so there's more points which is really exciting," said King. "It's a different strategy, but I don't know I've just had a connection with these waves this week. I've had all my friends here like Malakai (Martinez), Esteban (Chavez), and Leilani (McGonagle), and all the Costa Ricans have been so supportive. It's been a world of difference and I'm hungry for more."
Joining Schilling and King into Finals Day, the backhand hammers of former event finalist Cam Richards (USA), eliminating dark horse threat Wesley Santos (BRA), and forehand gusto of emerging talent Owen Moss (USA), who took down 2016 Vans pro victor Evan Geiselman (USA), will prove formidable opponents to see who earns their place into the Final.
After her breakthrough year to finish 2021, Sawyer Lindblad (USA) remains at the forefront of everyone's radar. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
Sawyer Linblad’s Flawless VB Run Continues, Women Set For Historic Finals Day
Another jaw-dropping performance from 16-year-old Sawyer Lindblad (USA) garnered her an additional excellent heat total of 16.33 and near-perfect single-wave score, an immaculate 9.33 (out of a possible 10). Lindblad’s decimating backhand continues to provide her the magic she needs, this time against former Championship Tour (CT) surfer Chelsea Tuach (BRB), as the current North America No. 1 and now sets up for a massive finish to the first QS 3000 of the year.
“I feel like everything is finally clicking after last year and only getting a lot of good-range scores,” said Lindblad. “I'm really happy the hard work is paying off. It's giving me a lot of confidence, just surfing some heats and getting some momentum for the rest of the season and the Challenger Series.”
A critical day decided women’s Semifinalists and Alyssa Spencer (USA), one of the most winningest modern era WSL women on the East Coast, added another finals day appearance to her resume.
The 2021 CT qualification threat continues to show her dominance in the region, notching a 15.93 heat total over an in-form Leilani McGonagle (CRI).
Now, the 20-year-old hopes to add her name to the history books of Virginia Beach competition.
Also notching major Quarterfinal victories, Kirra Pinkerton (USA) overpowered event threat Noah Klapp (DEU) in their clash while Florida's own Zoe Benedetto (USA) eliminated Round of 16 standout Bella Kenworthy (USA).
A 9:30 a.m. EDT call will determine a possible 10:00 am. EDT start for Finals Day competition.
The Vans Pro QS 3000 will run August 23 - 28 at 1st Street Jetty, Virginia Beach.
For more information, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.
Vans Pro Women's Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 9.66 DEF. Bella Kenworthy (USA) 9.20
Heat 2: Alyssa Spencer (USA) 15.93 DEF. Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 11.40
Heat 3: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 16.33 DEF. Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 8.57
Heat 4: Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 13.34 DEF. Noah Klapp (DEU) 12.37
Vans Pro Men's Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Jett Schilling (USA) 15.33 DEF. Jabe Swierkocki (USA) 9.44
Heat 2: Tomas King (CRI) 14.83 DEF. Michael Dunphy (USA) 8.57
Heat 3: Cam Richards (USA) 12.00 DEF. Wesley Santos (BRA) 9.97
Heat 4: Owen Moss (USA) 12.83 DEF. Evan Geiselman (USA) 11.60
Vans Pro Women's Round of 16 Results:
Heat 1: Bella Kenworthy (USA) 14.10, Alyssa Spencer (USA) 9.84, Chelsea Roett (BRB) 6.24, Rubiana Brownell (CRI) 6.20
Heat 2: Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 11.87, Zoe Benedetto (USA) 11.40, Izzi Gomez (COL) 10.34, Ella McCaffray (USA) 9.63
Heat 3: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 14.07, Noah Klapp (DEU) 13.84, Vela Mattive (USA) 10.00, Havanna Cabrero (PRI) 9.70
Heat 4: Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 12.50, Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 11.83, Autumn Hays (USA) 11.44, Keanna Miller (USA) 7.46
Vans Pro Men's Round of 16 Results:
Heat 1: Jabe Swierkocki (USA) 14.67, Michael Dunphy (USA) 13.36, Taro Watanabe (USA) 12.40, Bo Raynor (USA) 9.76
Heat 2: Tomas King (CRI) 14.00, Jett Schilling (USA) 13.27, Dimitri Poulos (USA) 11.30, John Mel (USA) 10.40
Heat 3: Wesley Santos (BRA) 12.20, Evan Geiselman (USA) 11.97, Kei Kobayashi (USA) 11.66, Eithan Osborne (USA) 9.70
Heat 4: Owen Moss (USA) 14.16, Cam Richards (USA) 12.97, Blayr Barton (USA) 12.67, Alan Cleland (MEX) 12.17