Aaron Cormican wins the 2012 WRV Outer Banks Pro – ten years after winning his first pro contest at this very same event/

From SURFLINE.COM. Words: Matt Pruett. Photos: Patrick Ruddy.

As far as jobs go, the only thing worse than having four different bosses telling you what to do, is having no bosses telling you anything.

After all, the only way to ensure that you’re on your game 75% of the time is having someone in your grill at least 25% of the time. Anything less than that leaves room for idle time, debauched proclivities and subsequently, disaster. When it comes to professional surfers (the real kind, the kind whose rent and mortgages depend on their contest results) — all those sponsors and team managers are sort of like bosses. But not in any conventional way. They’re not keeping tabs on their riders as much as paying their tabs.

One decade and twenty-something professional wins after storming the Outer Banks’ first-ever professional surfing contest — the 2002 Foster’s/WRV Outer Banks Pro — for his maiden victory, Aaron Cormican surveyed less-than-desirable conditions at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, NC, for the event’s tenth anniversary.

Frankly, the waves kinda sucked, while the field was totally stacked with the best competitors on the coast, including three former ASP World Tour vets. Truth be told, Cormican was beginning to doubt himself. Those classic Carolina tuberides Dare County is known for were nonexistent. Size and form-wise, this looked more like a bad day in Florida. He couldn’t find a backslide line to better whatever Gabe or Benny was capable of out there. He couldn’t find that money air section no matter how hard he looked. This wasn’t mind-surfing. This was mind-flailing.

At this moment — right here, right now — Cormican needed a sage. A muse. A boss to help clear out the cobwebs and get him back on track.

That’s when New York big-wave surfer and surprise contest entrant Will Skudin stepped in.
“Will just came up to me all quietly and said, ‘A true professional finds a way to adapt to the situation, Aaron.’ That’s all I needed to hear.”

Tweaking the traditional Skins format that’s helped make the Quiksilver King of the Peak such an illustrious event down at Sebastian Inlet, the Western Atlantic Pro Surf Series employed the “Skin and Bones” format to this year’s event, which goes like this:

Four surfers compete in 20-minute heats. Scores are announced immediately and competitors have 45 seconds to decide if they want to claim the ride (catching another wave cancels that choice). After claiming, the competitor is deemed the Heat Leader and must paddle in and sit in a chair. Once another competitor claims a wave higher than the Heat Leader, he takes the chair, and so on. The surfer with the highest claimed wave is deemed the winner of the “Skin,” advances to the heat following the next and collects $325 while each heat’s runner-up receives $200, or the “Bone.” For Round 2, heats are reversed to give equal opportunity to all competitors. The surfer with the most skins at the end of the contest is crowned the champion and receives a bonus check. Western Atlantic Pro Surf Series points are awarded based on the number of Skins and Bones won (Skins = 4 points, Bones = 1 point).

By the end of Day One, Cormican (aka Gorkin) was sitting on four Skins, two more than anyone else, for a healthy lead toward the title. By the end of Day Two, the New Smyrna Beach hero was enveloped in beer and champagne and man-hugs and microphones and camera flashes as he hoisted the victor’s check for almost seven large for the six Skins won. It was a serendipitous, if not revelatory, celebration for Cormican.

“I was just a dumb kid back when I won my first pro contest here [2002],” Gorkin said humbly. “But I spent my first birthday in Hatteras with my dad Dale at the ESA Eastern Championships, so the Outer Banks has always held a special place in my heart. I feel like I’ve matured a lot in the last 10 years, and it’s all because of everyone who made it here to this contest — from the locals to the organizers to the competitors. I can’t thank everyone enough. This might be the most special win of my career.”

Final payout of the $30,000 Wave Riding Vehicles Outer Banks Pro presented by Hurley (including all Skins, Bones, $1000 Expression Session and bonus prizemoney)

1. Aaron Cormican, $6950
2. Jeremy Johnston, $1825
3. Ben Bourgeois, $1375
4. Michael Dunphy, Blake Jones, $1175
5. Kilian Garland, $1125
6. Gabe Kling, $1100
7. Chris Duff, Nils Schweizer, $1050
8. Michael Powell, $975
9. Mark Dawson, $925
10. Jensen Callaway, Ben Powell, $850
11. Vince Boulanger, Chris Tucker, $725
12. Nathan Behl, Kyle Busey, Michael Foard, Rob Kelly, Asher Nolan, $525
13. Mason Barnes, Philip Goold, Jesse Heilman, Hunter Heverly, Brendan Petticrew, Noah Schweizer, $400
14. Control Deliz, Dean Randazzo, Cam Richards, Will Skudin, $325
15. Ryan Briggs, Morgan Leavel, Sean Martin, Sebastian Moreno, Jeff Myers, Lucas Rogers, Pat Schmidt, Tanner Strohmenger, Icah Wilmot, $200