When it comes to the Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships, nobody can lay claim to king of the Virginia Beach swell like Aaron Cormican.
The New Smyrna Beach, Fla., surfer has won the pro division more times than any other competitor - taking three titles from 2005-07 and a fourth in 2009.
But when he got his entry form in late for the 51st annual event that started Monday, he was forced to slide in through the back door, entering the Tautog's/Doc Taylor qualifier.
As the winner of the 48-surfer event, Cormican earned an automatic spot in the Van's Pro round of 96 - beating up what might turn out to be the best waves of the event to capture the title and its $2,000 first-place check.
Chase Wilson of Newport Beach, Calif., was second, followed by Eros Exarhou of Ormond Beach, Fla., and Derek Peters of Huntington Beach, Calif.
"He's on a mission," longtime competition director Paul West said of Cormican.
Known in surfing circles as Gorkin and inventor of a move called the 'Gorkin Flip,' Cormican could end up surprising the international field in the men's pro - an Association of Surfing Professionals four-star competition with a $95,000 total purse.
Cormican, who was not available for comment, is known for being one of the best on "junk surf" - what much of the surf in the next few days could be.
Monday's conditions, arguably some of this summer's best, were expected to drop out by this afternoon as the northeasterly push of the last few days diminishes.
"It was a surprise... an ECSC swell," West said of Monday's conditions. "There's never been any rhyme or reason to it, but for some reason the ECSC gets waves every year.
"Some of today's heats were really firing off."
Kurt Korte, a wave forecaster for surfline.com, predicted the northeast wind swell to drop out by today and a knee-high east-southeasterly swell to develop for the rest of the week.
A potential cold front by the weekend could bring another favorable northeasterly swell.
No tropical systems are forecast to affect the ECSC this year.
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