Competitors rake in the loot at the Volcom VQS Championships

The OK Corral? At 54th Street Newport? If anyone can pull off the ultimate clash in cultures, it's the crew who run the Volcom VQS Championships. With a mechanical bull, a poker table, chili-eating contest and bikini-clad beauties in leather chaps and cowboy hats parading on site, this year's biggest-ever VQS Champs could have made a beach boy out of Wyatt Earp himself. As Volcom's Brad Dougherty said, "When we have an idea like this, we really run with it."

No kidding. Now in its fifth year, the VQS champs continues to be a make-a-wish foundation for every young competitor. No entry fees, armloads of prizes for every kid on the beach and, this year, some very serious cold, hard cash. They doled out 50 grand to this year's top competitors, including a $10,000 check to the winner of the pro-am division, ${{{6000}}} to the Juniors winner, ${{{5000}}} to the airshow top dog, $1000 to the Girls victor and $5000 to the king of the Groms. And according to Volcom's Troy Eckert, that ante will continue to rise. "We're upping the prizemoney to 75 grand next year," he told the cheering crowd during the awards ceremony. "And these contests will always be free. Free forever."

Of course, with all that {{{incentive}}} to shred, it's nice when the kids hold up their end of the bargain. And with final-day conditions delivering semi-glassy head-high slingshots for a worldwide audience on a live webcast, every competitor had his chance to shine. In the first-ever Girls division, local Erica Hosseini took top honors, while Maui rat Granger Larsen inched past budding {{{Malibu}}} talent Dylan Perillo to take the $5000 claim in the Grom division. In the Juniors, super-elastic Kilian Garland continued his winning ways with some crisp, backside taildrifters, and Nate Fletcher captured the Airshow final with one giant, frontside air with a pillow-soft landing. "What am I gonna do with the prizemoney?" asked Fletcher. "I'm gonna burn through it as fast as possible."

That left the heavily contested pro-am division, which, with the prizemoney now rivaling many WQS events — is attracting a number of big-name surfers from around the world. Floridian Asher Nolan, who's been invincible in a string of recent pro-am events, looked like the man to beat when he lit up an overhead right for a high score. "Nolan's flaring up like a hemorrhoid down there," announced Ken "Skindog" Collins, who, along with his co-emcee Shawn "Barney" Barron, should seriously consider going on tour with their act.

"Punker" Pat Towersy also connected with a couple of good snap-to-air combos, but it was Centeio who used his few years of WQS savvy to grind out the heat winners on two long, open-face rights. The Ewa Beach regularfoot slipped in the event last-minute after Hawaiian coach Dave Riddle called him and encouraged him to surf in the last qualifier. "I owe it to Dave," he said. "And to all the boys back in Hawaii: beers are on me. We're celebrating when I get home."

Maybe the beach isn't so far from the Wild West after all.


1.Joel Centeio
2.Jason "Ratboy" Collins
3.Asher Nolan
4.Punker Pat Towersy


1.Nathan Fletcher
2.Kilian Garland
3.Josh Hoyer
4.Punker Pat
5.Josh Sleigh
6.Jay Quinn


1.Kilian Garland
2.Shota Nakamura
3.Cory Arrambide
4.Blake Wilson


1.Granger Larsen
2.Dillon Perillo
3.Kiron Jabour
4.Kento Takashi


1.Erica Hosseini
2.Sarah Haffert
3.Sage Erickson
4.Lexi Wilson