The World Surf League Men and Women’s Qualifying Series WRV Outer Banks Pro QS 1,000 crowned Noah Schweizer (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) and Zoe Benedetto (Palm City, Fla.) its respective winners for a Floridian sweep after a three-day marathon event came to a brilliant close.
Clean, two-to-three foot surf continued to deliver pristine conditions for finals day with Schweizer and Benedetto standing apart from a stacked finals day draw.
The men’s field still maintained powerhouse threats that included two former event winners, an international contingent, and experienced East and West Coast competitors, but Schweizer was able to bring out his best surfing once more throughout finals day. The 22-year-old had to face defending event winner Renan Peres Pulga (BRA) in an intense Final bout but had the edge in their first exchange with a 6.87 (out of a possible 10) to Pulga’s 6.17. Schweizer wasn’t done yet and continued to build his score line until posting the heat’s best single-wave score of an excellent 8.20 and 15.87 (out of a possible 20) heat total — earning his second victory of 2019.
“It feels so good just to win again, being here in the Outer Banks just feels like home and I just kept getting waves,” Schweizer said. “The first win almost didn’t feel real just having Evan (Geiselman) in there which was epic but then I had a slow run the last few events. But waves kept coming to me here which never happens and my board just felt insane — which was the same board I rode at the Florida Pro actually.”
The 23-year-old made his way through a Quarterfinal bout with Brasil’s Kim Matheus in dominant form before meeting an in-form Anthony Fillingim (CRI) in the Semifinals but wasn’t to be stopped with multiple excellent scores throughout the day. Just by making the Quarterfinals, Schweizer returned to No. 1 on the North America Regional QS rankings moving into the back-half of 2019.
“I kind of caught myself looking at the ratings too much and realized I just have to stop,” Schweizer added. “You just have to surf and that’s what I did here. It feels good to be back on top obviously but there’s still more competitions so we’ll see what happens.”
Fellow Floridian Benedetto, 14, took over the title of youngest woman to win the WRV Outer Banks Pro over 16-year-old Ella McCaffray (San Diego, California) in stunning form. Benedetto’s relentless forehand attack paved the way to a near-perfect 9.00, her second of the day, toward the end of their Final to solidify her maiden QS victory in her first-ever QS Final. The Palm City native overcame a pair of Hawaii standouts on the way to her first QS Final. The 14-year-old had to overcome fellow up-and-comer Kailey Bogart (HAW) on her last two waves, scoring a 12.93 heat total, before a marquee Semifinal matchup against event standout Luana Silva (HAW) where she first posted a 9.00 to clinch a victory.
“It feels so good, I’m over the moon and just starstruck right now,” Benedetto said. “I remember before the contest just thinking this would be a good birthday present and I just wanted to come into this wanting to get good experience. I’ve done a few QS’s but to win feels so good with all the girls ripping, especially with a few big names and just to compete with them is great.”
But, now the Floridians have to head home quickly ahead of Hurricane Dorian that looks to be heading their way before thoughts of enjoying the victory can settle in.
“I don’t know what the future holds, I’d love to do more competitions and I’m trying to do as many QS’s and Junior Pros as possible so if the RVCA Pro Junior is on the list I want to do it,” Benedetto added. “But right now I just have to get home with a huge hurricane to deal with (laughs).”
The WRV Outer Banks Pro defending event winner nearly pulled a historic back-to-back win but fell just shy against the decimating form of Schweizer. Pulga’s explosive Semifinal affair against Jake Kelley (Ventura, Calif.) witnessed both exchange excellent scores but the Brasilian remained poised after having to deal with 2016 event victor Kilian Garland (Santa Barbara, Calif.) in a highly-anticipated Quarterfinal. Now, Pulga sets his eyes on a much bigger prize moving forward.
“It was so good to come back here, this place is so special and the waves were so fun for the event,” Pulga said. “It felt amazing to make that Final but I would’ve loved to win again. Noah was ripping in that heat and it was fun to try and surf against him. Now I’ll get ready for the Azores for the QS 6,000 and I feel really good heading into that event with some momentum and good vibes from here.”
McCaffray battled her way through a stout Quarterfinal against East Coast Kayla Durden (Jacksonville Beach, Fla.) before meeting one of the event favorites Chelsea Roett (BRB) in the Semifinals and excelled on both occasions. The San Diego, California native showed her poise against the seasoned QS competitors and kept her strategy intact throughout finals day ultimately leading to a runner-up behind a dominant Benedetto.
“My goal coming here was a Semifinal so I’m really stoked to have made that Final,” McCaffray said. “The waves here were so fun after I expected it to be flat (laughs). I was leaning more on my forehand in that Final after my backhand didn’t feel strong in the Quarters or Semifinals so I’m happy to be able to showcase my surfing in fun waves. I’ll focus more on the Pro Juniors and do some QS events when I can but I’ll take this confidence back to those events.”
For more information, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.
WRV Outer Banks Pro Men’s Final Results:
1 – Noah Schweizer (USA) 15.87 1,000 points
2 – Renan Peres Pulga (USA) 13.40 750 points
WRV Outer Banks Pro Women’s Final Results:
1 – Zoe Benedetto (USA) 15.60 1,000 points
2 – Ella McCaffray (USA) 12.27 750 points
WRV Outer Banks Pro Men’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Noah Schweizer (USA) 15.44 DEF. Anthony Fillingim (CRI) 12.87
SF 2: Renan Peres Pulga (BRA) 16.47 DEF. Jake Kelley (USA) 15.56
WRV Outer Banks Pro Women’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Ella McCaffray (USA) 13.23 DEF. Chelsea Roett (BRB) 11.80
SF 2: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 16.53 DEF. Luana Silva (HAW) 12.73
WRV Outer Banks Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Chelsea Roett (BRB) 11.50 DEF. Serena Nava (USA) 9.36
QF 2: Ella McCaffray (USA) 11.64 DEF. Kayla Durden (USA) 9.90
QF 3: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 12.93 DEF. Kailey Bogart (HAW) 10.50
QF 4: Luana Silva (HAW) 16.77 DEF. Sol Aguirre (PER) 12.40
WRV Outer Banks Pro Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Anthony Fillingim (CRI) 14.70 DEF. Chauncey Robinson (USA) 14.20
QF 2: Noah Schweizer (USA) 15.20 DEF. Kim Matheus (BRA) 11.93
QF 3: Jake Kelley (USA) 12.53 DEF. Daniel Glenn (USA) 12.40
QF 4: Renan Peres Pulga (BRA) 12.13 DEF. Kilian Garland (USA) 10.77
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.