Asher Nolan doesn't do much competitive surfing these days.
He is 32 and has a 7-year-old daughter back home in Atlantic Beach, Fla. Then, there have been assorted injuries, a bum ankle and creaky knees, among other ailments. With a day job as an East Coast brand ambassador for Hurley International, that leaves little time for globe-trotting from one tournament to another.
But the five or six times a year he dusts off the surfboard for competition, he aims to make it count.
So it was with small waves and tempered expectations that Nolan beat out 15 surfers Sunday to earn the lone wild-card spot at the Quiksilver Pro New York, which will be contested over four days this week when surf conditions are optimal.
"I was just excited to come to New York," Nolan said. "I was ready to hang out with my friends, go to the city and have a good time. It was a win-win situation no matter what."
Nolan, however, is no stranger to success on the Long Beach shore. In 2005, he won the Unsound Pro event.
"I knew I could surf these waves. I've done well here before," Nolan said.
In the trials final, he totaled 15.66 points on his two scoring waves, almost two points clear of runner-up Keanu Asing, 18, of Ewa Beach, Hawaii.
By qualifying for the main draw, Nolan put himself in position to raise his profile and make a few bucks. There is a million-dollar purse, $300,000 for the winner, and the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of 10-time world champion Kelly Slater.
"I haven't really thought about it much," Nolan said. "I mean, obviously, it's a win-win situation. I don't want to get in there and be like, 'I'm done because I won the trials.' I want to try and surf really well and represent for the East Coast."
Nolan says the high-profile stage will not faze him. Maybe that is because so little will be expected from him. He stopped surfing competitively full-time in 2008. The rigors of constant travel were no more, allowing Nolan to compete only when at his peak. As for his expectations now that he is in the main draw: "I'm not going to hold back," Nolan said. "I'm going to try as hard as I can."
Long Beach native TJ Gumiela and Montauk's Leif Engstrom both failed to advance from their four-man heats. Engstrom took fourth in Heat 1, Gumiela fourth in Heat 2.