Nearly a year ago today events around the world were halted. One of the last pro surfing events to run were on the shores of Cocoa Beach, Florida, and now a whole new stage of pro surfing is set to begin tomorrow, March 11, with the FireWire E-Pro USA.
Many of the competitors haven’t put on a jersey since last March and now can contest for an event title through their clips they’ve compiled over the last year. Tyler Gunter was one surfer in particular was preparing for his second full-time year on the World Surf League Qualifying Series after claiming North America Regional Pro Junior Champion in 2018. Kade Matson, also entered into this event, followed suit with his own Pro Junior title in 2019 before competition was unable to finish a full year in 2020 to set up the Surf Web Series’ innovative platform.
Image: Tyler Gunter - Newport (Photo: @dredbot)
Stepping away from WSL competition was a decision Kevin Schulz already had on his mind heading into 2020 with plenty of projects to keep him busy – save one last runner-up performance at the SLO Cal Pismo Beach Open. The San Clemente, California, surfer has always been one to stack clips and with his entry this event will not be short of any aerial acrobatics.
“I’m stoked there’s a new competitive platform,” said Schulz. “It’s a good way for everyone to release some of their clips that they’ve had stacked up over the last year in some friendly competition. I miss seeing everyone and giving high fives at the events (laughs). It’s crazy to think it’s been over a year since I competed. I hope my clips get both the judges and the rest of the viewers psyched.”
Image: Kevin Schulz - Playa Revolcadero, Acapulco (Photo: @dredbot)
Nolan Rapoza - Playa Revolcadero, Acapulco (Photo: @dredbot)
The likes of fellow QS chargers Cole Houshmand, Nolan Rapoza, Kei Kobayashi, Sam and Ben Coffey, and Wesley Santos are also joining in on the fun. But, they will have to face off with freesurf juggernauts such as Rob Kelly, Jake Halstead, and Jacob Szekely. One of New Jersey’s finest, Kelly, is notorious for winter hunting around his home breaks and beyond in the northeast. The soon-to-be father is locked and loaded with his choice clips to stun judges and fans alike.
Kei Kobayashi - Playa Revolcadero, Acapulco (Photo: @dredbot)
“I’m excited to be a part of the E-Pro USA,” said Kelly. “I think it’s a really cool concept as well as a cool opportunity to not only compete, but a way to showcase some of the waves everyone’s been scoring close to home this past year. I’m pumped to be waving the flag for Jersey and see how our waves stack up against others around the country which I think is really cool about this platform of competition.”
Fan voting begins at 12 p.m. PST and will be open for 24 hours to help decide who advances into Round 3 and who must deal with Round 2 elimination.