Sanoa Dempfle-Olin, Levi Slawson Victorious In Pumping Conditions at WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Pacifico
Today, Sanoa Dempfle-Olin and Levi Slawson emerged victorious at the World Surf League (WSL) WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Pacifico, a Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, in ideal, four-to-six foot conditions. Jennette’s Pier provided a pristine platform for Finals Day action with Slawson and Olin both making remarkable comeback wins and earning points toward 2024 Challenger Series qualification. The incredible day of competition wrapped up the East Coast leg in historic fashion with Zoe Benedetto and Kolohe Andino accruing runner-up finishes, as well as Sam Reidy, Cannon Carr, Noah Klapp, and Lanea Mons earning clutch Final appearances.
The men’s Final featured event standouts Kolohe Andino, Levi Slawson, Sam Reidy, and Cannon Carr battling it out for the 2023 event win. Andino started the heat right away, boosting a massive aerial assault to accrue a near-perfect 9.00. Costa Rica’s Reidy found a 7.33 to put himself into the heat alongside Slawson and Carr, but Andino responded with more aerial antics to earn a 7.43 and push himself into a commanding wave. But, the former CT star, Andino, wasn’t finished and found yet another Jennette’s Pier for another near-perfect 9.27.
Slawson utilized his priority brilliantly, finding a major turn before soaring a full, backhand rotation to earn a near-perfect 9.77. The Encinitas, Caifornia, competitor then needed an 8.50 to take the lead. And, in the dying minutes, Slawson acquired a higher priority over Andino and took to the air to earn an 8.57 and his first-career QS win.
“I can’t even put it into words, the last 15-minutes of this has just been mind-blowing to me,” said Slawson. “I’ve put so much work in for this first win and watch so many people win that I’m usually competing against. I’ve never had a win like this before so doing it against [Kolohe Andino], we had a Final a week ago and he got me there, but I just never gave up and had complete belief in myself.”
Slawson’s brilliant finals day run witnessed multiple near-perfect scores, including a 9.77 in the Semifinals to earn his place into the Final, and earning a win in both the Quarterfinals and Semifinals. Now, the 20-year-old prepares for the rest of the 2023/2024 season knowing there’s big events waiting.
The women’s Final showdown featured some of North America’s top-tier emerging threats including 2022 event finalists Zoe Benedetto and Noah Klapp alongside 14-year-old Lanea Mons and proven Canadian talent Sanoa Dempfle-Olin. 2019 event winner Benedetto wasted no time putting up a score of meaning with a 7.00 as Klapp narrowly bested the Floridian with a 7.57. But, Benedetto answered back immediately with an excellent 8.17 to stake her claim atop her opponents.
Dempfle-Olin wasn’t done yet and added a 6.93 to her score line before heading into the dying moments where she accrued an excellent 8.27 to steal the victory from Benedetto as the final horn sounded, boasting her maiden QS victory.
“I’m so happy, it feels amazing,” said Dempfle-Olin. “I had a slow start to the heat and I really put my head down and fought back at the end which feels great to come from behind at the end of the heat. I’m so grateful for my friends and family, and proud of myself. We got super lucky with waves and definitely had to stay calm, but it was a long day and I’m happy to get a win.”
After taking down the Coastal Edge ECSC Pro, Andino had his sights on an East Coast sweep and it nearly came to fruition. The former CT standout put on a showcase throughout the week in pumping conditions, earning a heat win all the way up until the Final with dynamic displays in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals. Now, the soon-to-be father of two will enjoy the time between events and prepare for what the year has in store.
“It’s the end of the year for me, I’ll probably not compete the rest of the year and it’s good just to know I still have it in me to make some heats,” said Andino. “I had a really strange year and honestly if it wasn’t for God I wouldn’t be here. I had a lot of fun and I know I can make some heats and I’m excited to get back on Tour next year. Sometimes you make no mistakes and have a good heat, and the other guy can still get it, but it was fun and stoked to make it into another Final.”
Former event victor and 2022 finalist, Benedetto, also looked well on her way to sweeping the East Coast leg before last-minute antics from Dempfle-Olin overtook her. The Floridian showed what she’s capable in pumping swell, earning multiple excellent scores throughout the event and the result pushes her to No. 2 on the regional rankings. The 18-year-old has her eyes set on much bigger goals and now moves forward with confidence into the upcoming Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro in Oceanside, California.
“This two week span has been super positive and it’s definitely helped me just get back in the groove of contest surfing, congrats to Sanoa that’s super sick,” said Benedetto. “It’s always nice to be on the East Coast and get some good results. Couple of really close calls which always sucks but it just makes me want to work harder. It was pumping today and I’ve never surfed it this good in a heat. Super Girl is a challenge I haven’t really conquered yet so I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”
The next stop on the North America Qualifying Series (QS) will be the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro powered by CELSIUS beginning September 22 – 24 at Oceanside, California.
Wild Moving Day Determines Quarterfinalists
The Atlantic Ocean tested competitors’ will to move into Finals Day at the World Surf League (WSL) WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Pacifico, a Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, with four-to-five foot conditions providing opportunities to capitalize on amid the scattered lineup. Those who found themselves in the spot when it mattered were able to post near-perfection and jaw-dropping maneuvers with top seeds making their Round of 64 debut before moving directly into the Round of 32. Women’s competition was called OFF for the day as both men’s and women’s Quarterfinalists are locked in for a Finals Day showdown.
Costa Rica’s Sam Reidy didn’t hold anything back in his Round of 32 clash with former Championship Tour (CT) star Kolohe Andino, Mexico’s standout Sebastian Williams, and an in-form Enzo Ackermann. Reidy unleashed a powerful forehand attack on an opening, critical section before taking to the air for a near-perfect 9.25 (out of a possible 10) to earn a commanding lead before Andino went to work and overpowered the field with a 15.75, including an excellent 8.00, utilizing his world-class forehand capabilities.
“I’m stoked, looking at the draw I didn’t really know anyone except for Sebastian [Williams] and I know he’s a really talented surfer,” said Andino. “And then Sam [Reidy] got the 9.25 on me, and I didn’t even know who he was so it was sick to see the level of surfing so high. I really had to lock in and finish the heat strong.”
A stacked, Round of 32, Heat 8, battle unfolded between defending event victor Michael Dunphy, recent Coastal Edge ECSC Pro runner-up Levi Slawson, rising talent Owen Moss, and Costa Rica’s threat Tosh Talbot. Slawson and Dunphy traded near-excellent scores before Slawson soared to an excellent 8.50 before adding a 6.45 to seal a big win and back-to-back Finals Day appearances.
“I feel good, my first heat this morning was a little weird because I couldn’t hear anything and when you don’t know your position in the heat it’s hard to gauge what your strategy is,” said Slawson. “But, overall, surfing feels good and I’m just stoked we have some surf. Finals Day tomorrow and waves should be super fun, and the fields are super stacked so it should be a good day.”
QS veteran and former ISA Gold Medalist, Jhony Corzo, turned on his form in a Round of 32 battle with emerging talents Jabe Swierkocki, Cannon Carr, and Luke Wyler. Corzo’s Gold Medal-winning backhand was on full display to earn an excellent 8.25 and take control of the affair early in the heat. The 25-year-old then found another running lefthander to attack and posted a 6.45 to solidify his lead and a place into the Quarterfinals.
“I’m loving it, stoked to get my rhythm going and get that heat win,” said Corzo. “I surf my backhand every day at my home break and now it’s finally lining up for me [in heats]. It’s my goal to qualify for the Challenger Series and I know it’s a long road so I’m just going event-by-event and day-by-day, and just enjoying the process and loving life.”
Virginia Beach, Virginia’s Kai Barton played ultimate spoiler in his Round of 32 affair featuring event standout, former event victor, Taro Watanabe. Watanabe posted a day’s best 17.75 heat total in his Round of 64 debut before facing East Coasts threats Barton, Ryan Huckabee, and Luke Gordon. Barton’s explosive backhand earned an excellent 8.00 to overtake the lead and wouldn’t let it slip through his grasp as he eyes down a career-best result heading into Finals Day.
“That was so good for my confidence and I knew that they were all further to the south and I just found that right,” said Barton. “It always feels good to make a heat like that. They all rip and it feels even better to go better than the guy you’re staying with (laughs). It would be a dream come true to win this thing and I’ll give it my all.”
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. EDT for a likely 8:00 a.m. EDT start to Finals Day.
Opening Day Spectacle Provides Near-Perfection
A magical opening day at the World Surf League (WSL) WRV Outer Banks Pro presented by Pacifico, a North America Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, to provide a high-performance spectacle. Clean, four-to-six foot conditions pushed competitors to their best and the men’s Round of 104, Round of 96, alongside women’s Round of 40 and Round of 32 rose to the occasion. Impending weather will shut down competition for Thursday, August 31, as the men prepare for the Round of 64 battles.
A jaw-dropping performance from Sebastian Williams set the scale for what’s to be expected with a near-perfect, 18.90 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Williams’ aerial antics garnered a near-perfect 9.90 (out of a possible 10) after showcasing an air-reverse before finishing the wave with a full-rotation. The Mexican standout’s free surfing abilities are known across the world and now he looks to find that rhythm in competitive surfing once again.
“I surf every heat like it’s a Final, that’s just the way I surf,” said Williams. “I really want to make the CT and you have to give it all you have from Round 1, there’s no such thing as easy heats for me. In a heat, nerves are more sensitive and amp levels are highger. To land a couple airs in heats always feels better than to land them in free surfs and I’m stoked to make a statement in Round [of 96].”
After his success in the Dominican Republic, Manuel Selman is back in the North America region full-time and looking for his chance to break through. Today, he did just that with a near-perfect 9.00 on his dangerous backhand attack with multiple major maneuvers. But, Selman now returns to the top-seeded Round of 64 where he will look to continue his surge.
“I’m so stoked on that wave, it just stood up perfect all the way to the inside and I went to my strong suit which is backside turns,” said Selman. “It paid off and I’m super stoked, the waves are firing and I think it’s going to be really good for the rest of the day. I’ve been in Indo before coming to Virginia Beach and then here so I’m stoked.”
Isauro Elizondo is also on the hunt to make his goals a realization and kicked off with an impressive 14.25 heat total on aggressive forehand gauges. The rising threat continues to find his footing in competitive surfing, making early rounds before finding untimely exits, and sets his eyes on making career-best results moving forward in the 2023/2024 season.
“Waves are firing and I’m really stoked, probably some of the best QS conditions we’ve had in awhile,” said Elizondo. “I’m stoked to get a couple good waves and shake off the nerves. I was trying to control myself and do my best, made a few mistakes so that was good to shake those and just keep moving forward. This event, I just want to get better than the last event and try to find a rhythm.”
Also making their way into the Round of 64 with big wins, Sean Woods, Logan Radd, Henry Rothey, Nadav Attar, Kyle Tester, Timothy Fandey, Miles McCall, Quaid Fahrion, Chase Niemann, Cristian Padilla, Carl Burger, Kepa Mendia, and Kai Gale Grani move forward with momentum.
Newcomers Push Top Seeds, Round of 16 Match Ups Locked In
QS newcomer and part of the iconic Turner family from Huntington Beach, Bailey Turner, made her statement in the Round of 40 with an excellent 16.35 heat total before taking on top seeds in the Round of 32. Turner’s clutch performance in the Round of 32 earned her a 6.50 and an advancing position behind an in-form Noah Klapp (DEU). Now, she prepares to continue her career-best run into the Round of 16.
“It felt really good to make it through a heat again and catch a couple waves, it got really tough out there compared to this morning,” said Turner. “It felt so much better to get an actual wave. It’s really good for the confidence [to post two big scores in the first heat]. In my first contest I lost in the first heat and so I’m happy to get my first heat win earlier and this is the first time advancing into the Round of 16 so I’m really excited.”
Canada’s standout competitor, Sanoa Dempfle-Olin, already has one QS victory to her name and looks to add another after a dominant debut. Demfple-Olin’s decimating backhand accrued a 14.10 heat total and starts the East Coast finale with major momentum. “It felt really good to get two big scores in the first couple minutes of the heat,” said Dempfle-Olin. “It gave me a lot drive and confidence toward the end just to try and find some other [waves]. I didn’t get the best result in Virginia, but my surfing felt good and that’s all you can ask for.”
Recent Coastal Edge ECSC Pro victor Zoe Benedetto stayed in winning fashion after a tough start to her Round of 32 debut and joins Keanna Miller, Daya McCart, Noah Klapp, Kylie Pulcini, Mya Kuzmovich, and Talia Swindal into the Round of 16.
Event organizers have called OFF competition for Thursday, August 31, and will reconvene at 11 a.m. EDT to make call for men’s Round of 64.