TURF: 2012 Wave Riding Vehicles Outer Banks Pro Presented by Hurley; Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, NC; September 28th-30th, 2012.
ENERGY: Mother Atlantic did not offer what most had hoped for being that it was hurricane season in the Outer Banks, although Jennette’s Pier did save this year’s event by providing a very contestable sandbar that allowed competition to run all three days and through each tide.
With free tasty beer on tap that was brewed just one township north courtesy of the Outer Banks Brewing Station (AKA Beer Church), from the sound of the event’s first heat horn until wrapping up each day’s competition in full, spirits soared high. And for great reason — the 2012 Outer Banks Pro was about to get weird... and we like weird!
FIRST TIME AT FIGHT CLUB: When I mentioned “weird,” I wasn’t kidding. With a new “skin and bones” format added to this year's event, everything was focused on what I like to describe as “instant gratification.” Each competitor got to surf twice, much like the skins format that most competitors have prior experience with. But the skin and bones was even more special, allowing surfers the closet thrill to gambling to be had in a pro contest.
Each surfer was drawn into a four-man 20-minute heat, and after each ridden wave, the judges would call out scores and give the surfer 45 seconds to decide whether to claim said wave. If another wave was caught, the score didn’t count, and once a surfer did make a claim, he’s have to exit the water and wait in a throne on the beach to see if any of the other three competitors could outdo that score in the time remaining. If so, the original claimer would have a chance to paddle back out and top the new claim, and so on.
3rd- and 4th-place finishers received nothing other than the chance to surf the next day, with the heat schedule going completely in reverse. Meanwhile, each heat winner collected a skin, $325, four points toward Mike Bloom’s Western Atlantic Pro Surf Series standings, and a spot in future heats until they fell victim to a heat loss. Each 2nd-place finisher would then receive a bone, $200, and one point in the standings. Credit must go out to Bloom, Noah Snyder, and the heads at WRV that came up with this format.
Some competitors such as myself openly invited a change in the monotony of professional surfing competitions, while other veterans frowned entirely on the idea, openly voicing their concerns with the format. But all in all, the theatrics of this “Skin & Bones” specialty event definitely helped to break up the grind of textbook East Coast events that many of us line up months prior.
SLIDE: Where to begin, where to begin... We’ll start with California kid Killian Garland, who absolutely dominated the $1,000 Expression Session taking the overall win. Killian has been on quite a solid East Coast tear this fall being led fearlessly by Volcom Stone's lifetime staple Sir Roger Hume himself. The two have been covering all of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast bases, and “Kilgar” has further polished his East Coast grovel skills, which became quite apparent to many competitors who fell to his flawless flow and fine-tuned approach.
With to many close calls to report courtesy of the new “Skin & Bones” format, contest standouts on Day One were Cocoa Beach, FL, darkhorse Chris Duff and competitive kingpin Aaron “Gorkin” Cormican. Day Two was rained out minus Round One of the Expression Session, which saw countless air-reverse clicks in even smaller, choppier conditions than Day One.
On Day Three, someone would be crowned the 2012 Outer Banks Pro champion, and it came down to a domination by New Smyrna Beach, FL’s, contingent as Mother Atlantic delivered very similar conditions to that of the jetty in Smyrna, with all of the boys punting and comboing conditions that others struggled to even paddle in to. Jeremy Johnston was coming in hot, only to be stopped by local up-and-comer Michael Foard of Kill Devil Hills, who singlehandedly earned the entire respect of his fellow competitors by bringing down the hatchet and ending JJ’s run at the title.
Gorkin went on to skin his last few competitors and clinch nearly $7,000 in prize money with a 2012 Outer Banks Pro victory, which honored the anniversary of his very first big professional win he earned in the very same spot very ten years ago. That made this year’s 1st-place check and endless champagne shower all the sweeter for Mr. Cormican,
THE PAIN: Having been beat by a fairly unknown grom to those outside of the Outer Banks surf community, Jeremy Johnston definitely felt the pain of a loss he will be humbled by for quite some time. Or at least until the next event where he slays us all, further proving why he is hands down one of the most fearsome competitors on the East Coast. All who read this know that when JJ builds up momentum, he can very well become unstoppable. And up until his heat with the 17-year-old Foard he had found his zone.
THE MAN: Aaron Cormican has come a long way personally and professionally since his win at the 2002 Outer Banks Pro, and so he’s the unanimous winner of this year’s The Man award, not just for his domination in the water but also his good cheer on the beach and his huge night purchasing over 50 pitchers of beer on the final night the Nags Head Bowling Alley was in business.
YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB: “I had such a fun time at the contest and really liked the ‘Skin & Bones’ format.” –A very humble Michael Foard, expressing his thoughts on the weird format that stirred quite a controversy among competitors at this year’s 2012 Outer Banks Pro and helped the 17-year-old pocket a cool $525 for one skin and one bone
“I really enjoyed surfing in the Outer Banks Pro. I feel like it gave all the surfers a chance to showcase their abilities and make decent money, and I had a lot of fun surfing at Jennette’s Pier, a great venue with rippable waves. I’m pumped to make it back next year.” –Expression Session champ and 2012 East Coast competitive circuit standout Killian “Kilgar” Garland of California
“The format was really exciting, I liked how you could hear your score before you claimed it, then if someone got a better score you could go back out and try to one up them, not like other skins events where after you claim one you’re done. A lot of people walked away with some cash and it seemed like everyone was in high spirits, which, along with free beer from the Beer Church, made for a great time. Plus I just found out I was on the cover of Transworld Surf so I was on Cloud Nine the entire time!” –7th-place finisher and recent Transworld Surf cover boy Nils Schweizer on the vibe of this year’s contest
“That was by far one of the coolest events we have on the East Coast — the format rules! And I can’t believe how I won the same contest on the ten-year anniversary of my first-ever win. This event is going to be one to watch for in years to come. Thanks to Nils for the ride to Norfolk, to Will Skudin in the parking lot for telling me to flare up, to Mark Dawson for putting me up in his pad, to Jensen for stopping Dunphy from getting on a roll, and to the bowling alley staff and all others that came out that night to celebrate with us! Oh yeah, and thanks to Nils and the groms for letting me squeeze in the car for a ride home — sorry it smells, Mrs. Schweizer!” –A very thankful Aaron “Gorkin” Cormican on his very special Outer Banks Pro win
FINAL RESULTS OF THE 2012 WRV OUTER BANKS PRO PRESENTED BY HURLEY:
|1. Aaron Cormican, $6,950
2. Jeremy Johnston, $1,825
3. Ben Bourgeois, $1,375
4. Michael Dunphy, Blake Jones, $1,175
6. Killian Garland, $1,125
7. Gabe Kling, $1,100
8. Chris Duff, Nils Schweizer, $1,050
10. Michael Powell, $975
11. Mark Dawson, $925
12. Jensen Callaway, Ben Powell, $850
14. Vince Boulanger, Chris Tucker, $725
16. Nathan Behl, Kyle Busey, Michael Foard, Rob Kelly, Asher Nolan, $525
21. Mason Barnes, Philip Goold, Jesse Heilman, Hunter Heverly, Brendan Petticrew, Noah Schweizer, $400
27. Wilfredo “Control” Deliz, Dean Randazzo, Cam Richards, Will Skudin, $325
31. Ryan Briggs, Morgan Leavel, Sean Martin, Sebastian Moreno, Jeff Myers, Lucas Rogers, Pat Schmidt, Tanner Strohmenger, Icah Wilmot, $200
Killian Garland, $1,000