SEBASTIAN INLET, Florida/USA (Monday, January 22, 2018) – The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Ron Jon Florida Pro presented by Sunshine State Florida Lager Women’s QS6,000 and Florida Pro Men’s QS1,500 are set for finals day action after a critical day of competition ended Monday afternoon. Some of the world’s best women remained in brilliant form and decided their Quarterfinal draws before the men posted immaculate Quarterfinal performances of their own in tricky, two, occasional three, foot waves at Sebastian Inlet.
2017 Championship Tour (CT) Rookie of the Year Bronte Macaulay (AUS) stole the show in Round Five with a blistering performance on her backhand. The Gracetown, Australia, native earned a near-perfect 9.23 (out of a possible 10) and 17.23 (out of a possible 20) heat total — both the top scores of this event so far. Macaulay backed herself up on the QS last season to re-qualify and now looks to get an early confidence booster heading back into the CT.
“It was great to get a few waves and see it clean up a little more so I’m really happy to make it through that one,” Macaulay said. “I had a pretty good offseason at home just training and it’s nice to start the year off with a result. It’s pretty crazy to see this event come up and I’ve had such a good time staying with Pauline [Ado], her boyfriend, and Garazi [Ortun] so we’ve had a blast. I just learned last year that if you get off to a good start it really helps on the QS, even though the goal is always to make the Top 10, it’s just reassuring to get to work before the end of the year hits.”
Fellow Australian talent Mikaela Greene (AUS) put up a fight against an on-fire Caroline Marks (USA) with a quick 6.00 start, but Marks answered right away with a 6.60 of her own. The next exchanged would prove vital as Marks smashed a lefthander gem on her vicious backhand to score an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10). Marks is feeling the hometown support every step of the way and can now try to give them something to truly cheer for with a Quarterfinals berth.
“My family just surprised me from California with the rest of them making it out so I’m feeling really happy and a lot of great energy all around me,” Marks said. “I’m just stoked to be here in Florida and surfing at home — it’s amazing. It’s so good to have my family here and I went to dinner with a bunch of old friends last night so it’s hard to describe how great it is to be here. I’m stoked there’s waves and to be in the Quarters takes some pressure off knowing I have keeper, but I’m not stopping.”
India Robinson (AUS) comes into the Florida Pro as her first international QS event and found the spark to earn a Quarterfinal berth over QS threat Brisa Hennessy (HAW). The 17-year-old, Victoria, Australia, competitor grew up on the waves of Bells Beach and has a groomed forehand attack. Robinson now enters her last year as a Pro Junior and is taking advantage of any QS opportunities she can to prepare for a full-time QS career.
“I’m so stoked and this is already an amazing result so I couldn’t be happier,” Robinson “The start of the year is really important so you when it’s time for re-seeding you can be in that top seeded round. I’m used to bigger, more powerful waves, so when I come to these type of waves I really rely on my rail game. I’ve been surfing against Brisa [Hennessy] for years now and it felt great to finally get a win so I’ll just try to take this momentum forward.”
Brazilian CT and QS veteran Silvana Lima (BRA) continues to show she’s a force to be reckoned with at the elite level with another big performance. Lima’s springy style and fast maneuvers are never to be counted out in punchy beachbreak, and she proved so once again today. This marks a big opportunity for Lima after re-qualifying for the CT via the QS last season and she can put some nerves to rest early with a big result.
“It’s great to make the Quarterfinals at this event and start the year off with a keeper result, but I want to make the Final,” Lima said. “I just wanted to get out there and stay busy everywhere because it’s pretty tough out there to find your spot. The wave will either give you two quick, powerful turns or one big one so it’s not about catching all the waves you can, but you just have to give it your best. It’s great here being at a new place, new year, but I want to keep it going.”
Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Keely Andrew (AUS), Paige Hareb (NZL) and Macy Callaghan (AUS) also earned critical Round Five wins and are into the Quarterfinals.
The Florida Pro Men’s QS1,500 determined their Semifinal draws and explosive performances were witnessed on the shores of Sebastian Inlet.
Unfortunately, for the hometown crowd, Jake Marshall (USA) found a gem to unload his backhand on and earned a near-perfect 9.40 over Melbourne Beach, Florida’s Chauncey Robinson (USA). Robinson faced a combination situation, meaning he needed two new scores to equal Marshall’s heat total, and clawed back in to the heat. But, the final horn sounded and Marshall earned a massive Quarterfinal win in his first competition back from injury since late last year.
Marshall’s best QS result came from just up the highway in Cocoa Beach where he earned a runner-up, but knows the job isn’t done here yet.
“Yesterday I made my heats, but didn’t feel like I put a good heat together so I was just stoked to be in the Quarters,” Marshall said. “I knew I had to surf better today and Chauncey [Robinson] had all his friends and family on the beach so I was just looking for the ones I wanted — luckily they came to me. It’s great to make it to the Semis and I haven’t been here too often at the QS level. Once you get here you kind of feel satisfied, but at the same time you never know when the next opportunity for a win is going to come and I just want to go for it.”
A clash of the old and the new school met in Quarterfinal Heat 1 with 24-year-old, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, native Evan Geiselman (USA) taking on the former CT competitor, and St. Augustine, Florida, local Gabe Kling (USA). Geiselman found a near-perfect 9.00 of his own to solidify a big win over Kling and now moves into a crucial Semifinal match up at home.
“It was really cool to have that heat, I looked up to Gabe [Kling] and that whole generation of surfers,” Geiselman said. “For him to make the Quarterfinals at an event just goes to show how dangerous and relevant he still is around this scene. My game plan is not to go left at Sebastian, but I saw that one and it had a line so I just went after it — fortunately it had that double up wedge at the end that offered a good section. Hopefully tomorrow can be my day, but I’ll just stick to my thought process.”
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. to assess conditions for a possible 8:00 a.m. start for women’s Quarterfinals. Please go to www.worldsurfleague.com, or download the free WSL App, for more information.
The Ron Jon Florida Pro pres. by Sunshine State Florida Lager Women’s QS6,000 and Florida Pro Men’s QS1,500 will run January 18 through 24 at Sebastian Inlet, Florida.
Ron Jon Florida Pro Women’s QS6,000 Round Five Results:
Heat 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 13.50 def. Minori Kawai (JPN) 8.20
Heat 2: Paige Hareb (NZL) 11.47 def. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 9.60
Heat 3: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.60 def. Mikaela Greene (AUS) 12.67
Heat 4: India Robinson (AUS) 13.60 def. Brisa Hennessy (HAW) 10.93
Heat 5: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 17.23 def. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 11.90
Heat 6: Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.00 def. Philippa Anderson (AUS) 13.17
Heat 7: Macy Callaghan (AUS) 12.17 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.67
Heat 8: Keely Andrew (AUS) 12.43 def. Nao Omura (JPN) 10.07
Upcoming Ron Jon Florida Pro Women’s QS6,000 Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
QF 2: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. India Robinson (AUS)
QF 3: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Silvana Lima (BRA)
QF 4: Macy Callaghan (AUS) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
Florida Pro Men’s QS1,500 Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) 16.50 def. Gabe Kling (USA) 9.87
QF 2: Josh Burke (BRB) 14.67 def. Kevin Schulz (USA) 12.70
QF 3: Jake Marshall (USA) 16.50 def. Chuancey Robinson (USA) 12.67
QF 4: Lucca Mesinas (PER) 13.87 def. Cam Richards (USA) 11.56
Upcoming Florida Pro Men’s QS1,500 Semifinal Match-Ups:
SF 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) vs. Josh Burke (BRB)
SF 2: Jake Marshall (USA) vs. Lucca Mesinas (PER)