Thoughts of being on island time and consuming “coconuts,” while surfing some of the best waves in the Caribbean, attracts the East Coast to Puerto Rico every winter. Many North Florida surfers escaped cold water recently, in search of warmer waves and the chance to bring home a $10,000 winner’s check from the 2015 Corona Pro. Huge congratulations are due to Asher Nolan, aka “Slash Master,” for bringing home the big win!
Leading up to the Corona Pro, a massive crowd flooded the town of Rincon. The streets turned into one big party with heavy amounts of Corona flowing from sunrise to sunset.
Lucky for me, I arrived on the island a week before the beaches were filled with everyone who is anybody on the East Coast. The waves were super unpredictable the whole week, which caused anticipation. Would there even be any swell during the contest? Puerto Rico’s surf can be as dodgy as Florida waves, so, as always, most East Coast surfers, “hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.”
Domes, the site of the contest, typically always has at least a little swell, even if the rest of the island is flat. Friday, March 6, was the warm-up day for competitors. The waves were head-high with some overhead sets rolling through at the point. Everyone was amping and blowing out the crowd.
North Florida locals competing in the Corona Pro included Nolan, Cody Thompson, Hobie Sears, Trever Challenor, Emily Ruppert, Kayla Durden and Jazmine Dean.
Contest morning arrived and the waves dropped dramatically, as expected, runnin 2 to 3 feet, at best.
Finals day brought 2- to 4-foot surf, with it building throughout the afternoon. Jacksonville’s Ruppert put on a standout performance in the semi-finals. She went “man-on-man” with Quincy Davis in her heat. Ruppert scored a 7.33, the highest score of the heat. She just needed a good backup wave and, sadly, the ocean didn’t deliver. She ended up losing the heat by only .08 of a point.
“Overall, I was really happy with how I surfed and stoked to make a little bit of money and just get to enjoy my time in Puerto Rico,” Ruppert said. “I can’t wait for the next contest at ‘Middles’ in November!”
Nolan arrived on the island two weeks before the contest and was able to score two huge swells before the event, a nice way to get his blood racing. After winning every heat, it was clear he was going to slash his way to victory. In the finals, he took on Francisco Bellorin. He won the heat with an 8.93 wave, the second highest wave of the day.
“If I can continue to be involved in the surf industry, and stay in the mix, I’ll always be down to compete,” explained Nolan. “It feels good to bring another victory home to Jacksonville.”
North Florida definitely made some noise on the island. We came, we saw, we conquered! Until next time Puerto Rico.