There's always been this reality in surfing where non-locals have to prove themselves on a certain coast. Whether you're from the Valley surfing Malibu, the city surfing Rockaway, or the mainland surfing the Islands. It's rare that "outsider" surfers ever get a chance to truly validate themselves as a group.
That's part of what makes the Wave Riding Vehicles Battle of the Banks so special particularly to Virginia Beach surfers. Though they are from North Carolina's smaller, mushier, and less dramatic northern neighbor, this event is a chance to put their skills head to head against the locals.
And they seem to keep winning.
The second annual Battle went off yesterday in peaky head high plus surf at an unnamed, secret sandbar somewhere on Pea Island, NC. With only a few days left in the two-month waiting period, contest director Ian Parnell gave the green light Tuesday afternoon after seeing our yearly Turkey Day swell setting up punchy easterly groundswells with offshore winds for Wednesday.
Team OB was missing key shredders Jesse Hines, who is still recovering from a broken leg, Billy Hume, and Craig Watson, while team VB was full strength. After two exciting rounds and an extremely close final, VB takes the title back home north of the border.
Though conditions weren't as balls-out heavy as last year's historic slugfest, there were plenty of opportunities for glory barrels and high performance surfing. The straight offshore winds and east-northeast swell direction made for right bowls and left drainers at the contest site. Nor'Ida created all kinds if new sandbars setups, and the pair of peaks at the contest site made for an ideal proving ground.
Judges were looking for the biggest, heaviest barrels followed by a critical turn or floater on the end section. There were only three perfect 10s all day, including a mean backdoor tube by VBs Brad Harrel, a long draining left by OB's Chris McDonald, and slabby, spitting right in the final minutes of the contest by OBs Noah Snyder, which earned him a cool $1,000 check from Bob Hurley for Best Barrel. Last year, it was dubbed the Glory Hole Award, but it's doubtful Snyder would be thrilled to hold that title.
C Mac's left in the beginning of Round 2 was the best barrel leading up to the final, and because Snyder took the award in the dying minutes, fellow OB teamriders Mike Meredith and Eric Dotson donated their $100 earnings to Chris, as he's heading to Indonesia for the winter months. What ever
happened to those Sportsmanship Awards they gave in youth soccer?
VB surfed their way to a commanding lead after Round One, with solid performances by Harrell, Lucas Rogers, and contest director Ian Parnell. Team Outer Banks made a tremendous comeback in Round Two as McDonald, Dana Quinn, and Snyder caught fire. Snyder actually won best overall in addition to best barrel, with the most total points of all 30 surfers in the event. Heading into the final, team VB had the lead by only 7 points, a difference that can be challenged in a single wave.
While much of the world was already in holiday travel mode, no one was going anywhere for this final. After losing last year, Team OB was hungry for more than cranberry sauce.
"Lets win this one for Hines," Snyder had written in a text to all of the team on Tuesday night. Only down by a small margin, Snyder, Drew Meredith, and Jeff Myers faced VBs Brad Harrell, Ian Parnell, and Lucas Rogers in a 45 minute final. Spectators on the beach hooted and hollered while all six pulled in to any heaver that came their way.
Snyder and Rogers came in 1st and 2nd respectively and Meredith came in at a close 3rd. Despite a courageous effort by the Tarheels, they couldn't edge out team VB. Both squads celebrated a great day of surfing over cases of Bud (Bud "Heavy" that is) and talked a little trash about next year's event being even bigger and better than this years.
"No more calling us kooks and telling us to go home," announced VBs Ian Parnell to the OB camp.
"You're still kooks!" retorted Brett Barley.
But he knows it'll be a little tougher to tell them to go home now.
Matt Lusk is a regular photographic contributor to ESPN Surfing. He took a stab with the pen as well in this case, and did a very solid, objective job, considering how hard he was pulling for Team OB.