The Volcom VQS Championships In Newps

Time to lay the cards on the line for a piece of 15,000 dollars in loot.

Face it, outside of a fifteen-minute heat, contests can be the dullest way to spend a day. Not only are you anxious for your heat, but passing time in between at some random beach can be a waste of a good weekend. On May 9 and 10, at 54th Street in Newport Beach, Volcom held what can only be dubbed “the anti contest”—an event that brought together performance surfing and the fun of being in Las Vegas on to an Orange County beach. One-hundred-and-fifty qualifiers from around the world came to Newps to take a piece of the 15,000 dollars in prize money, and they didn’t have to pay a cent for entry fee.

The annual Volcom VQS Championships, now in its ninth year, transformed the sands of 54th Street into “Las Volcom.” Instead of waiting for heats and avoiding dealers on the streets of Newport Beach, competitors were dealt their cards in blackjack, spun the wheel in roulette, and threw dice in craps—for prizes, of course. Add in video games, good food, and an array of hits performed by an Elvis impersonator and you had what Contest Director Troy Powell called “insanity within its own means.”

On day one, the conditions went from bad to worse—what could only be described as a desert storm. While competitors Nate Tyler and Alex Gray bet the farm on the roulette table in a cozy tent, outside it was sheer mayhem. “It looked like the Sahara or something,” said photographer Tom Carey. Simply put, the weather and the waves were messy.

The next day, gamblers arrived to a whole new beach. Clean three- to four-foot surf did something Newport rarely does—it stayed clean all day. In the pro-am final, Australian Matt Thompson looked strong early, as did Shaun Burrell. However, neither could keep up with veteran competitor Henry Mills who sat farther down the beach from the rest of the heat and picked off the best waves with the most open faces. His clean, fast surfing gave him the first-place check for 3,500 dollars.

In the highly coveted air title, the single best air flat-out won. Normally three scores of a nine, a nine, and a 9.5 would have given Josh Kerr all he needed to take the title. Although he pulled a very technical reverse, his total was outdone by Nate Tyler’s giant frontside air that earned him scores of a ten, a 9.5, and a 9.5—and 1,200 dollars.

Like the battle in the pro-am final, the juniors’ matchup came down to a duel between Puerto Rico’s future superstar Brian Toth and Central California’s Kilian Garland. While a pushing tide and south swell made wave selection difficult, Toth’s consistency throughout the entire heat outdid Garland and landed him a cool two-grand. In the grom division, unknown Hawai’ian Tyler Newton sat quietly in the middle of the contest area and got all the waves he needed while the rest of the heat was caught up in the gambling and paddled around in a frenzy. Tyler’s hold-’em strategy worked for the win and a nice chunk of change—1,500 bucks.—Checkwood


1. Henry Mills $3,500

2. Shaun Burrell $1,500

3. Tyler Smith $800

4. Matt Thompson $500


1. Brian Toth $2,000

2. Kilian Garland $1,000

3. Jonny Craft $500

4. Chase Newsom $400


1. Tyler Newton $1,500

2. Colin Schlidhauer $700

3. Shea Yates $400

4. Andrew Doheny $300

Air Spectacular

1. Nate Tyler $1,200

2. Josh Kerr $400

3. Randy Welch $300

4. Gavin Sutherland $100

5. Josh Hoyer

6. Matt Ratt