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Saturday, August 25, 2012
Updated: August 26, 11:16 AM ET
Width to Win

By Jon Coen
ESPN Action Sports

Michael Dunphy
Michael Dunphy, the V.B. boy and last East Coaster standing in tomorrow's quarterfinals.
Preview Early round update Rounds 3,4,5

Those on the hot sand in Virginia Beach today need to thank Al Merrick and Dane Reynolds. (Or maybe Robert Weiner and Adam Virs, whichever you choose.) We need to thank Slater and even Tom Curren -- anyone really, whose had the insight to understand that wider and shorter is better in small waves.

The 2012 Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships presented by Vans has been the little contest that could. Facing a forecast that looked about as good as Uggs with shorts, the event has pushed through, getting surprising surf in the one to three range since Monday. With skaters, BMX'ers and moto madmen flying through the air all week, the Vans Pro has been whittled down to the quarterfinals.

But just imagine how painful it would be to watch (or surf) this Vans Pro if surfers still had that 17-inch "narrow" minded approach. Thanks to the acceptance of wider, fatter, boards, rippers have been able to make the kind of speed and pocket turns to make this week far more interesting.

Dane Guduaskas said he was riding a new Channel Islands that was reminiscent of a Flyer, and has been surfing twice a day because it was so much fun in the gutless surf. And all around the beach, you could find fat tails and widths getting close to that 19-inch mark.

Felipe Toledo
Felipe Toledo, hot off his win at the Lacanua Pro in France on Monday.

Sebastian Zietz was riding a 5'11 C.I. Fred Rubble, Tanner Guduaskas and Nathaniel Curren have both been skting through on fat sleds and Michael Dunphy is on swallow tail shaped by Bob Hurley himself.

On Friday number one seed Nat Young actually made a board change mid-heat in the round of 48, but no magic board could have taken out New Smyrna's Jeremy Johnston, one of those surfers you don't hear much about outside of East Coast events, an hence, one of the most underarated surfers in the world.

Johnston put up an explosive 9.57 that was only matched by Hawaiian, Torry Meister's 9.57 in the round of 24. But mid-round high scores have not equaled overall success, as Johnston, Meister, Granger Larson, Jack Freestone, and Kai Barger, who've all had 9 point-plus waves, have been sent back to watch the webcast from the Best Western.

Two surfers who are on more standard thrusters are Brazilians Toledo Felipe and Jean Da Silva. Both are looking very impressive. Felipe actully missed the first round of the Junior Pro as he was putting the finishing touches on his recent win at the 5-star Lacanau Pro in France on Monday. His father has been enthusiastically coaching from the beach with a whistle.

"I'm pretty happy to have made that last heat and to move on to the next round," Toledo said in a press release, "Conditions changed a lot throughout the day, but I'm feeling pretty good and pretty relaxed." Conditions really changed when a squall came through, forcing a 30 minute delay today, something you rarely see in Southern California.

The Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships presented by Vans is down to the final day in Virginia Beach.

The only East Coaster left at this point is Dunphy, the V.B. local. Dunphy took first in round three over Guduaskas as they both advanced. He then went on to take second to a very in-form and bulked up Ezekiel Lua in round four, before brushing off Santiago Muniz, younger brother of World Tour fixture, Alejo. Dunphy has looked smooth and confident all week. The last time a V.B. native won the ECSC was probably commentator, Wes Laine, back in another lifetime. Dunphy faces Nate Yeomens in the quarterfinal.

The event will commence on Sunday with the final ten heats of the pro, Vans Pro Juniors, and longboard.

Heat 1: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 14.34 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 10.84
Heat 2: Michael Dunphy (USA) 12.67 def. Santiago Muniz (ARG) 9.23
Heat 3: Jean Da Silva (BRA) 14.77 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.70
Heat 4: Dege O'Connell (HAW) 11.17 def. Torrey Meister (HAW) 7.33
Heat 5: Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 12.97 def. Granger Larsen (HAW) 12.06
Heat 6: Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 12.87 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 9.47
Heat 7: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.00 def. Eric Geiselman (USA) 10.50
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.00 def. Nathaniel Curran (USA) 12.43

Heat 1: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 16.33, Michael Dunphy (USA) 13.93, Jeremy Johnston (USA) 10.50
Heat 2: Santiago Muniz (ARG) 13.17, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 11.00, Dane Gudauskas (USA) 10.67
Heat 3: Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.14, Dege O'Connell (HAW) 11.14, Cory Arrambide (USA) 10.70
Heat 4: Torrey Meister (HAW) 14.40, Jean Da Silva (BRA) 11.34, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.17
Heat 5: Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 15.10, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 14.37, Mitch Crews
Heat 6: Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 12.17, Granger Larsen (HAW) 11.36, Gavin Gillette (HAW) 9.50
Heat 7: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 13.63, Nathaniel Curran (USA) 12.07, Luke Davis (USA) 9.06
Heat 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.83, Eric Geiselman (USA) 13.83, Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.94

HEAT 7: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 14.83, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 14.50, Michael Powell (USA) 11.90, Michael February (ZAF) 11.70
Heat 8: Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.43, Gavin Gillette (HAW) 9.10, Evan Thompson (USA) 8.87, Victor Done (USA) 4.80
Heat 9: Granger Larsen (HAW) 14.53, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 12.20, Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 9.73, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 7.90
Heat 10: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 12.50, Eric Geiselman (USA) 11.90, Noah Schweizer (USA)8.60, Ian Crane (USA0 7.54
Heat 11: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 14.13, Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.83, Ian Gentil (HAW) 8.66, Phillip Goold (USA) 7.00
Heat 12: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.80, Luke Davis (USA) 11.93, Cody Thompson (USA) 7.70, Brett Barley (USA) 5.57