Carolina ProAm leads off 2019 APP Qualifying Series in North Carolina

Carolina ProAm SUP Surfing
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The Salt Life Carolina ProAm in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina showcases a bevy of SUP Surfing’s top talent. Both coasts were represented as well as contestants from  Hawaii in this kick-off event for the APP World Tour Qualifying Series.

Izzi Gomez Infinity SUP Carolina ProAm2
Izzi Gomez takes top honor’s at this year’s Carolina ProAm. Photo by: Laura Glantz Photography

Caolina ProAm Becomes Stepping Stone to APP World Tour

This year, the Salt Life Carolina ProAm which has been thriving on its own since 2014, became the kick-off event of the Qualifying Series for the APP World Tour.  Through this Qualifying Series, contestants are able to earn points towards a final ranking that allows the Top 2 Men and Top 2 Women compete on the APP World Tour. The added incentive brought forth massive talent and a drive for surfers to compete in the Open Pro division in order to qualify for those rankings.

Fisher Grant Portal Surf Carolina ProAm
Fisher Grant makes quite a showing at the ProAm, taking 2nd place in both the longboard & shortboard divisions. Photo: Laura Glantz Photography

The opening heats on Day One of the competition were held in 20+ knot, side shore winds with overhead surf. Competitors advancing in the Juniors 17U, Open and Pro Open & Longboard divisions, later showcased their skills in 4-5 ft offshore conditions for the final day of contest.

This year’s Carolina ProAm event included a hot pocket of $15,000 in prize money and the Top 2 Men’s Pro Open and Top 2 Women’s Pro Open competitors qualified for the APP World Tour New York SUP Open on August 31-Sept 5th, 2019.

April Zilg Carolina ProAm
Local Pro, April Zilg, returned to her home break to compete for Carolina ProAm title. Photo by: Laura Glantz Photography

Izzi Lights Up the Leaderboard at Carolina ProAm

In the Women’s Pro divison, APP World Champion Izzi Gomez won both the Open and Longboard divisions over Nancy Salter in in the Pro Longboard and April Zilg in the Pro Open. Izzi dazzled and danced through the competition with her world championship bold maneuvers in the Open and gliding rail to rail in the Longboard rounds. Izzi, most well known for her aggressive shortboard style, expressed her diverse ability and all-around skills in the Longboard division with long noserides, cutbacks and floaters.

In the end, Izzi took home three checks amounting to $3750 for the weekend’s work.

Mo Freitas and Colin McPhillips for the Win

In the men’s division, Hawiian champ Mo Freitas had his work cut out for him to defeat the very polished looking and hungry Fisher Grant.  Mo and Fisher traded wave for wave in the Final Round with Mo edging Fisher out by executing a dynamic off the lip 360’that gave him the 2019 Open Pro title.

I always look forward to coming back here,” says Mo. “The people [in Wrightsville Beach] are passionate about the sport and you can feel it in this event. I’d suggest for everyone who’s into the sport to try and make it out for this event!”

Mo Freitas Rogue SUP Carolina ProAM
Mo’s aggressive moves and signature style – as well as his passion for the sport – always put him on top of the leaderboard at any event. Photo by: Laura Glantz Photography

Stay tuned for more of Fisher this year as he climbs the boards on a new Portal Surf Design step up board that looks amazing on the fly.

In the Men’s Longboard division, it was no surprise to see 3X Longboard World Champion Colin McPhillips grab the top of the podium. Colin’s effortless glides, big round house cutbacks and seemingly endless nose rides puts him in a class unto himself. He is fully holding onto his seat as Longboard champion and – it should be noted – that he also placed 3rd in the Men’s Open Pro behind Mo Freitas and Fisher Grant.

Colin McPhillips Hobie SUP Carolina Pro Am
“How flow can you go?” The signature style of Colin McPhillips grabs top honors in the Men’s Longboard division. Photo by: Laura Glantz Photography

Haywood Newkirk, Sr. Trophy Awarded at Carolina ProAm

One of the details that elevates the Carolina ProAm from other SUP Surfing contests is the awarding of the Haywood Newkirk, Sr Trophy. Since 2014, the Carolina ProAm has honored a competitor with the the highest finish in both the Pro Open and Longboard divisions with this special award given in the namesake’s history in Wrightsville Beach.

In previous years, the Women were only offered a Pro Open division; therefore, event directors included a separate Longboard division for the Women this year in order to give the gals a chance to win the overall title plus additional prize money that comes with it.

Izzi’s historic first place finish in both the Women’s Pro Open and Longboard divisions trumped strong performances by Colin McPhillips (1st Longboard/3rd Open) and Fisher Grant (2nd Longboard/2nd Open) for the men. Izzi’s electric performance earned her the overall title for this year’s ProAm and awarded the young surfer $3,750 in prize money. Izzi Gomez’s impressive performance at the 2019 Carolina ProAm showed a clear cut win in both divisions earning her the recognition of the Hawood Newkirk, Sr. trophy for 2019.

Carolina ProAm SUP Surfing
Open Divisions Show Promising Talent at ProAm

In the Open divisions, Maximillian Torres and Elle Newkirk took top honors in the 17 & Under divisions showcasing the rising tide of young talent focused on progression and stylish moves to be impacting the sport’s future. Max is a regular on the SUP Surfing circuit and has been competing in the Junior Divisions of the APP World Tour’s stops at Sunset Beach on Oahu and, last year, in Long Beach, NY.

Joel Jimenez and Sherry Correl gave strong performances in the 18-49 age group claiming their top spots for the year to come and local Haywood Newkirk and Nancy Salter claimed their salty crowns in the 50+ division.

SUP Squatch
Every surf contest should include a SUP Squatch division. Laughter, skill and hilarity are guaranteed

The 2019 Carolina Pro Am also unleashed the inaugural SUP Squatch division as part of the contest with 5 teams showing form and exciting wipe outs that kept the crowd on the beach highly entertained and commentating during the finals break.

Until NEXT YEAR, keep pumping, riding, gliding and performing everyone!  The Carolina ProAm will be back!

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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.