Caroline Marks - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Caroline Marks Wins 2019 Florida Pro, Kirra Pinkerton Places Second

– Marks Earns Back-to-Back Wins at Sebastian Inlet, Schweizer Keeps Title in New Smyrna Beach
– Reigning World Junior Champ Pinkerton and 2018 Florida Pro Winner Geiselman Finish Runner-Up

Caroline Marks and Noah Schweizer - PHOTO: © WSL / John Ferguson

Caroline Marks (USA) (L) and Noah Schweizer (USA) (R) claimed commanding wins at the second annual Florida Pro. PHOTO: © WSL / John Ferguson

SEBASTIAN INLET, Florida/USA (Friday, January 18, 2019) – The World Surf League (WSL) Men and Women’s Qualifying Series (QS) Florida Pro crowned Caroline Marks (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) and Noah Schweizer (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) its respective champions after an electric final day of competition. Marks defended her title in amazing fashion with some of the event’s top performances and Schweizer delivered an outstanding, aerial display that led the way to his first-ever QS victory.

The stars aligned for Marks once again with another dominant performance that culminated in back-to-back Florida Pro victories. The 16-year-old phenom took over the Final against 2018 World Junior Champion Kirra Pinkerton (San Clemente, Calif.) with brilliant wave choice in the wave-starved heat and still managed to post an excellent 8.83 (out of a possible 10) — the women’s top single-wave score. Marks had her eyes on the win all week and made that a reality to continue her reign over the QS rankings.

Caroline Marks - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Caroline Marks (USA) surfing her Semifinal heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Friday, January 18, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

“It’s pretty crazy having the whole town rooting for you and they’re so supportive that they would’ve been there for me win or lose,” Marks said. “I’ve just been so happy and confident all week that it just felt right. I’m just stoked I got to surf First Peak, it’s one of the best waves there is so that was a great feeling. Every heat I was starting with a solid wave and that put me into a good rhythm until the slow start in that Final. But, Kirra surfs so amazing she could get into a bomb and drop an 8 on me at any point.”

Marks began her day against one of the event threats, Australian Sophie McCulloch, and shut any hopes of an upset down right away with an excellent 8.50 to set the momentum in motion. The Floridian-turned-California transplant now has three QS titles to her name after posting the event’s highest heat total, a 16.10 (out of a possible 20), in her Semifinal bout as she prepares for her second year among the world’s best at the Championship Tour (CT) level beginning in April.

“I think it’s going to be a really fun year and wish this one was another big event, but I’m so happy they were able to bring it back for the opportunity,” Marks said. “Before coming here I had a lot of fun sessions at Rincon and Ventura so I was in a really good head space. This was the same board I rode at the Surf Ranch and it’s magic, I may take it to Snapper. But, it’s going to be exciting year and I’ve been working on so many things like airs and different maneuvers.”

Noah Schweizer - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Noah Schweizer (USA) surfing his Quarterfinal heat at the Florida Pro QS 1,500 on Friday, January 18, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Immediately following Marks’ chair-up the beach to begin the season, an all-New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Final got underway. Schweizer unleashed his aerial assault at the first peak wedge and stomped an excellent 8.50 to start. The wave consistency slowed down with the rising tide and opportunities became scarce, but the 22-year-old was able to back it up with a 6.30 to all but seal his maiden QS win over defending champion Evan Geiselman.

“If I was ever going to win a contest this is how I would have wanted to win my first, right at home,” Schweizer said. “I don’t even know what to feel, it’s just amazing. That was the longest ten minutes ever at the end because Evan can get an eight at any moment, he’s gotten one in almost every heat, but the tide just got on it too much. To see everyone here that I looked up to growing up and taking it out in front of them is pretty nice.”

Schweizer faced off against fellow New Smyrna Beach native Daniel Glenn in his Quarterfinal but brought the fireworks to a much-anticipated Semifinal against an in-form Michael Dunphy (Virginia Beach, Va.). The 22-year-old posted back-to-back, near-perfect scores with two of the event’s most spectacular air-rotations to garner a 19.30 heat total.

“I knew I was going to have hard heats all day and just knew I’d have to do my thing which is big airs,” Schweizer said. “It helps just surfing here since the NSSA days and I love this wave, it’s so fun. I just did this one since it was close to home and see how I go. Now that I’ve done well and got some money I might try to do some more competitions if I can get into them — whatever I can get into I’ll do.”

Kirra Pinkerton - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Kirra Pinkerton (USA) surfing her Semifinal heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Friday, January 18, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Reigning World Junior Champion Pinkerton starts her 2019 QS campaign off in great fashion with a runner-up and 2,250 points. The tricky lineup of Sebastian Inlet’s first peak took the 16-year-old out of her game plan and couldn’t find the waves she needed after a brilliant run through the week. But, Pinkerton still was able to cross off one of her key goals along the way and has many more in mind to get done this season.

“Coming into this event I didn’t know how it was going to go with Florida being so unpredictable and getting those points is such a good way to start,” Pinkerton said. “That’s one of the higher results, points-wise I’ve had even after winning Pismo last year. Even against Caroline I knew I had a chance to win after Worlds gave me so much confidence and I wasn’t almost carefree here. Before the event I said I really wanted a heat with Caroline and the only way I could’ve was a Final so I’m stoked to get that heat. I want to prepare for the big events now and see myself in the Top 6 by the end of this season – one of my goals is to get a win in a QS 6,000 so we’ll see how it goes.”

Geiselman started his day with a nail-biter against upcoming talent John Mel (Santa Cruz, Calif.) that went down to the final minutes. But, Geiselman wasn’t leaving his Semifinal to chance and came out of the gates firing with a 16.23 heat total to start over fellow Floridian threat Chauncey Robinson (Melbourne Beach, Fla.). The inconsistent Final didn’t give Geiselman the opportunities he needed to keep his Florida Pro crown, but gladly handed the title down to long-time friend Schweizer.

“Noah kept it in New Smyrna and I’m so happy for him to win it, someone needs to sponsor this kid,” Geiselman said. “He’s one of my best friends for a long time and couldn’t be more excited to see him get it. I was really happy with how I surfed this event and I just wished the waves stayed a little more consistent. First Peak is a quick, one section kind of wave when it’s like this which made it hard on the backhand. There wasn’t much more I could’ve done and I feel like my surfing came a long way last year so I’ll just look to continue that, keep making heats, and put myself in a great position before the end of the year.”

For more information, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.

Women’s Florida Pro Final Results:
1 – Caroline Marks (USA) 15.90 3,000 points
2 – Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 2.66 2,250 points

Men’s Florida Pro Final Results:
1 – Noah Schweizer (USA) 14.80 1,500 points
2 – Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.73 1,125 points

Men’s Florida Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) 16.23 def. Chauncey Robinson (USA) 11.60
SF 2: Noah Schweizer (USA) 19.30 def. Michael Dunphy (USA)

Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 16.10 def. Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 9.43
SF 2: Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 9.63 def. Summer Macedo (HAW) 6.23

Men’s Florida Pro QS 1,500 Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.30 def. John Mel (USA) 13.00
QF 2: Chauncey Robinson (USA) 12.60 def. Nolan Rapoza (USA) 11.80
QF 3: Michael Dunphy (USA) 16.83 def. Logan Hayes (USA) 10.60
QF 4: Noah Schweizer (USA) 12.67 def. Daniel Glenn (USA) 7.00

About the WSL
The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The organization, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running more than 180 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed Men’s and Women’s World Champions across all tours.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, John Florence, Lakey Peterson, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Taylor Jensen, Honolua Blomfield, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most dynamic field of play of any global sport.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com

Caroline Marks - PHOTO: © WSL / John Ferguson

Finish Line in Sight for Men and Women at Florida Pro

– Decisive Day of Competition Whittles Fields to Finals Day Draws
– Women Rip Through Marathon Day to Determine Seminfinalists
– Dunphy, Glenn Blast Into Quarterfinals Alongside Geiselman and Rapoza As Heat Winners

Sophie McCulloch - PHOTO: © WSL / John Ferguson

Sophie McCulloch (AUS) – PHOTO: © WSL / John Ferguson

SEBASTIAN INLET, Florida/USA (Thursday, January 17, 2019) – A vital day of competition unfolded at the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Florida Pro Women’s QS 3,000 and Men’s QS 1,500 with solid, two-to-three foot, occasional plus, swell still on tap. Finals day draws are locked in after the remaining four heats of men’s Round 2, and all of Round 3 were completed before finishing women’s Round 3, 4 and Quarterfinal bouts.

One of opening day’s more dangerous competitors returned to that form and Sophie McCulloch (AUS) found her way into the Semifinals with an incredible Quarterfinal start — earning a 6.67 (out of a possible 10) right away over one of Round 3’s top competitors Cannelle Bulard (FRA). The Alexandra Headland, Queensland, competitor is looking for a dream start to 2019 after finishing No. 27 on the QS last season and putting herself in striking distance of a qualification scenario.

“I was lucky to scrape through my Round 3 heat, I feel like the day off I maybe lost momentum, and to regain that confidence throughout the day was great,” McCulloch said. “It’s really important to carry that confidence into your turns because the judges are scoring those one-maneuver waves. To bring out some strong turns and get over the nerves is huge. Everyone wants to win the first event of the year and that would be a perfect start toward my goal of qualifying so I’m not leaving anything out there.”

Caroline Marks - PHOTO: © WSL / John Ferguson

Caroline Marks (USA) continues to reign over the women’s field at Sebastian Inlet, posting a 15.34 heat total in her Quarterfinal heat. PHOTO: © WSL / John Ferguson

Caroline Marks (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) continues her reign over Sebastian Inlet, delivering the day’s top performance in her Quarterfinal bout over Zoe McDougall (HAW). Marks dropped an impeccable 15.34 (out of a possible 20) heat with her backhand attack. The defending event champion looks poised to reclaim her title but will have a formidable opponent in McCulloch to deal with in the Semifinals.

“It was definitely a lot today getting through those three heats, but I love doing that and surfing so much,” Marks said. “Each heat I felt like I was getting better and better, and the waves got better all day which was great. Then going into two-man heats, I felt really comfortable after doing that so much last year on the CT and I loved it. Zoe (McDougall) is such an amazing surfer and dropping big scores every heat so I’m stoked to come out on top of that battle. Obviously, I want to win but I’m not putting pressure on myself to do so.”

Also making their mark and earning Semifinal berths Summer Macedo (HAW) and reigning World Junior Champion Kirra Pinkerton (San Clemente, Calif.) are into finals day with their shot at a vital 3,000 points toward their 2019 season.

Following some explosive men’s Round 2 affairs, the men’s competition culminated in Round 3 bouts to determine who would move on to two-man battles. Defending event champion Evan Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) and Melbourne Beach, Florida’s, Chauncey Robinson were the first to earn spots into the Quarterfinals.

QS veteran Michael Dunphy (Virginia Beach, Va.) now calls New Smyrna Beach, Florida, home and his relationship with Sebastian Inlet was apparent today with a 14.33 heat total. Last year was less than ideal for Dunphy, missing out on the Triple Crown of Surfing for the first time since 2012, and is hoping to turn it all around this season. The 28-year-old comes in with a new mindset and also fresh off a strike mission with Championship Tour (CT) competitors Ezekial Lau (HAW) and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) straight into business.

“It’s funny since I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to make it here for the event so I’m glad it worked out,” Dunphy said. “I came straight from the airport into my heat yesterday and there are some fun waves out there. I’ve had a couple bad years competing and there have been a couple different things running through my head about what to do, but I love competing. We were having such a good time in Panama and the last thing I had in my head was this event. I love trips like that and then coming into an event, it’s a good balance.”

Fellow New Smyrna Beach resident Daniel Glenn grew up just down the highway in Vero Beach, Florida, and spent a lot of his childhood here at the inlet. The now 22-year-old used that knowledge to his advantage and capitalized on a last-minute aerial attack that saved his Florida Pro campaign. But, it’s all fun for Glenn who has big plans this year, including the Volcom Pipe Pro, and a magic start here is all you need.

“That was a Hail Mary for me and it’s my go-to, you could say I’m a bit of an air guy (laughs),” Glenn said. “I’m just comfortable going up and coming down, but that wave didn’t really have anything else to offer. It’s better going up and landing back on the top of it rather than going for the big hack, coming down with the lip behind you and just getting thrown off — there’s just so much energy and turbulence. This place is like home to me after spending so much time surfing it and came here when I was a little older when the older guys actually gave me waves so I’m comfortable here.”

Event organizers will convene tomorrow morning and make a 7:30 a.m. EST call for a possible 8:00 a.m. EST for the completion of men’s Round 2 and women’s Round 3.

For more information, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.

The Florida Pro Women’s QS 3,000 and Men’s QS 1,500 will run in the best conditions from January 14 – 20 at Sebastian Inlet, Florida.

Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Zoe McDougall (HAW) 11.44, Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 6.90, Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 6.47, Chelsea Roett (BRB) 6.40
Heat 2: Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 9.67, Tiare Thompson (USA) 9.36, Josefina Ane (ARG) 8.30, Autumn Hays (USA) 5.70
Heat 3: Rachel Presti (DEU) 10.83, Cannelle Bulard (FRA) 10.77, Carol Henrique (PRT) 9.83, Zoe Benedetto (USA) 8.94
Heat 4: Caroline Marks (USA) 11.57, Nao Omura (JPN) 10.10, Tia Blanco (PRI) 9.10, Olivia Pessanha (USA) 4.96
Heat 5: Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 10.60, Summer Macedo (HAW) 9.30, Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 8.23, Melania Suarez Diaz (CNY) 8.10
Heat 6: Meah Collins (USA) 12.40, Emily Nishimoto (JPN) 9.17, Camilla Kemp (PRT) 8.10, Sara Wakita (JPN) 3.14
Heat 7: Maud Le Car (FRA) 10.50, Brianna Cope (HAW) 8.26, Julie Nishimoto (JPN) 7.10, Leticia Canales Bilbao (ESP) 5.97
Heat 8: India Robinson (AUS) 12.44, Alyssa Spencer (USA) 12.03, Mahina Maeda (JPN) 10.97, Uhaina Joly (FRA) 5.34

Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Cannelle Bulard (FRA) 13.83, Zoe McDougall (HAW) 13.83, Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 10.10, Nao Omura (JPN) 6.10
Heat 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.33, Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 13.23, Rachel Presti (DEU) 12.90, Tiare Thompson (USA) 6.63
Heat 3: Brianna Cope (HAW) 12.13, Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 8.84, Meah Collins (USA) 6.56, Alyssa Spencer (USA) 6.03
Heat 4: India Robinson (AUS) 12.27, Summer Macedo (HAW) 9.33, Emily Nishimoto (JPN) 7.34, Maud Le Car (FRA) 4.83

Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 12.67 def. Cannelle Bulard (FRA) 10.54
QF 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 15.34 def. Zoe McDougall (HAW) 9.66
QF 3: Summer Macedo (HAW) 9.43 def. Brianna Cope (HAW) 7.50
QF 4: Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 12.16 def. India Robinson (AUS) 5.63

Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Semifinal Match Ups:
SF 1: Sophie McCulloch (AUS) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)
SF 2: Summer Macedo (HAW) vs. Kirra Pinkerton (USA)

Remaining Men’s Florida Pro QS 1,500 Round 2 (H4-8) Results:
Heat 5: Josh Burke (BRB) 12.03, Tyler Gunter (USA) 11.50, Dylan Hord (USA) 10.83, Jeremy Carter (USA) 10.66
Heat 6: Stevie Pittman (USA) 10.40, Logan Hayes (USA) 8.17, Robbie McCormick (USA) 5.53, Fergus Kelly (USA) 1.50
Heat 7: Franklin Serpa (BRA) 14.24, Noah Schweizer (USA) 12.10, Cam Richards (USA) 7.47, Brandon Todd (USA) 7.23
Heat 8: Daniel Glenn (USA) 13.87, Michael Dunphy (USA) 13.46, Austin Neumann (USA) 11.06, Sean Woods (USA) 6.46

Men’s Florida Pro QS 1,500 Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.60, Chauncey Robinson (USA) 11.34, Jackson Butler (USA) 9.76, Che Allan (BRB) 7.43
Heat 2: Nolan Rapoza (USA) 13.67, John Mel (USA) 9.90, Ryan Huckabee (USA) 9.54, Luke Gordon (USA) 7.87
Heat 3: Michael Dunphy (USA) 14.33, Noah Schweizer (USA) 11.13, Josh Burke (BRB) 10.20, Stevie Pittman (USA) 10.06
Heat 4: Daniel Glenn (USA) 12.50, Logan Hayes (USA) 11.47, Tyler Gunter (USA) 11.24, Franklin Serpa (BRA) 11.23

Men’s Florida Pro QS 1,500 Quarterfinal Match Ups:
QF 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) vs. John Mel (USA)
QF 2: Chauncey Robinson (USA) vs. Nolan Rapoza (USA)
QF 3: Michael Dunphy (USA) vs. Logan Hayes (USA)
QF 4: Noah Schweizer (USA) vs. Daniel Glenn (USA)

About the WSL
The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The organization, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running more than 180 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed Men’s and Women’s World Champions across all tours.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, John Florence, Lakey Peterson, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Taylor Jensen, Honolua Blomfield, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most dynamic field of play of any global sport.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com

Alyssa Spencer - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Men and Women Top Seeds Take Over Florida Pro – WQS News

– Women Finish Round 2 Affairs Before Men Get Their Event Underway
– Hennessy, Spencer, and Fellow Top Seeds Continue To Flourish in Women’s Event
– Defending Event Champ Geiselman and California’s Rapoza Lead The Men’s Charge

Brisa Hennessy - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Brisa Hennessy (CRI) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Wednesday, January 16, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

SEBASTIAN INLET, Florida/USA (Wednesday, January 16, 2019) – The World Surf League (WSL) Women’s Qualifying Series (QS) Florida Pro fired back into an extensive day of action with both the men and women competing. The women’s QS 3,000 finished Round 2 affairs and top-seeded surfers staked their claim into Round 3 with dynamic performances in the three-to-four foot conditions on offer. Following women’s Round 2, men began their Florida Pro QS 1,500 event and powered through Rounds 1 and 2, Heats 1-4, to close an exciting day of competition.

One of the top event threats Brisa Hennessy (CRI) came out explosive in her debut to start Wednesday’s action and earned an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10). The Costa Rican representative was able to accrue a 13.57 (out of a possible 20) heat total by capitalizing on solid sections. But, the 19-year-old feels there’s still room for improvement with a lot of contest left.

“It’s always a great feeling to start with an excellent score and I think it helps with your confidence and getting the first heat jitters out of the way — especially when it’s the first contest of the year,” Hennessy said. “I’ve realized how important it is to have an alert and open mind out here, and I just wanted to stay busy and look for the best scoring opportunities. Going forward I hope to better my wave selection, my speed, and just getting more in tune with the lineup.”

Alyssa Spencer - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Alyssa Spencer (USA) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Wednesday, January 16, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Round 2 Heat 15 featured two of North America’s top Pro Junior talents, 2017 North America Regional Champ Alyssa Spencer (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Samantha Sibley (San Clemente, Calif.), going toe-to-toe alongside Japanese competitor Julie Nishimoto. Spencer looked to be on her way out of the contest sitting in third until the final two minutes when she was gifted a gem and didn’t waste it to move right into first. However, Sibley was then pushed to third and Nishimoto advanced behind Spencer.

“That was crazy. I knew coming into that heat all the girls were capable of dropping big scores so I knew those smalls scores at the start would be thrown out,” Spencer said. “It was a little bit stressful just sitting in third for a while, but I thought if the wave came through then I could get the score. You could be the best surfer in the world and not have a good wave come to you so that was really nice to get that chance. I was definitely feeling the first heat jitters, but I’m excited to get that one out of the way and start the year off here.”

Camilla Kemp - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Camilla Kemp (PRT) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Wednesday, January 16, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Also earning debut wins, Camilla Kemp (PRT), Sara Wakita (JPN), Maud Le Car (FRA), Leticia Bilbao Canales (ESP), and Mahina Maeda (JPN) are all through to Round 3.

Maud Le Car - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Maud Le Car (FRA) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Wednesday, January 16, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Competition then shifted to opening rounds of the Florida Pro Men’s QS 1,500 and surfers were eager to get their affairs in the books. The top seeds showcased their authority in decisive manner with big performances from the start that many carried into Round 2 bouts.

Defending event champion Evan Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) unleashed an excellent 8.17, and 14.00 heat total, to start men’s competition off in Round 1 Heat 1 against his brother Eric. Geiselman wasn’t done yet and pushed his Round 2 performance to the next level with one of the day’s highest heat total of a 15.57. The 24-year-old is in search of his third Florida QS title and showed he’s one to beat yet again.

“It’s funny because after the whole Hawaii leg I actually took a few weeks off surfing and had a fun New Year in the snow,” Geiselman said. “Just had to take some time away and got back into it just about a week ago so now I’m fired up for this one and to compete again. We had my brother so fired up to do it and that was a bummer, but he hasn’t done a contest in five years so we had fun (laughs) so it was just cool having in the water. It definitely builds on the confidence to get those scores, this panel has some guys that do the whole year around the world so it feels great to start like that.”

The Barbados natives are representing their island nation well this week with both Chelsea Tuach and Chelsea Roett through yesterday, and Josh Burke leading their charge on the men’s side with an impressive Round 1 debut today — joined by Che Allan into Round 3. Burke posted a solid 14.47 with his aerial attack and aggressive carves. But, this event is simply a stepping stone for Burke.

“I was surprisingly not nervous, which I usually am especially being the first heat of the year, but I felt good in my freesurfs which helped,” Burke said. “You just had to stay busy out there and it really paid off getting those scores. The waves are different from last year, but you can still do big turns out there, it’s not groveling which is nice. This year I’m really just focused on the big events since I’m into the QS 10,000s so this is a great momentum builder event.”

Floridian Robbie McCormick (Flagler Beach, Fla.) stormed his way through a Round 1 win with dynamic surfing on his backhand and forehand. Last year marked the 18-year-old’s last season as a Pro Junior, one he started late yet had an incredible run at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro and Pro Junior in Cocoa Beach, and is now a full-time QS campaigner. McCormick knows every bit of success helps and has his eyes set on more.

“It feels really good to get that first heat down with a win,” McCormick said. “I’ve been surfing back home and it’s been small so I knew what to do to with my technique for those quick scores. Every heat win is more confidence and that’s something I learned from the event in Cocoa Beach. I’m going to try and do more events than I did last year to start building points and work my way up.”

While the top seeds flourished, upsets were scattered throughout the day and the heaviest one came in Round 1 Heat 13. 2018 North America No. 2 Kevin Schulz (San Clemente, Calif.) sat in an advancing position behind Florida’s Noah Schweizer (New Smyrna, Fla.), who won the heat, until the final moments when fellow Californian Sean Woods (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) threw a Hail Mary air-reverse to steal the runner-up spot.

“I never throw airs in heats so it feels really good to land something like that,” Woods said. “In the past I’ve surfed heats safe and I wanted to change that this season. This year I just want to go for it so it’s great that it worked out like that.”

Also notching Round 2 wins to end the day, Californians John Mel (Santa Cruz, Calif.) and Jackson Butler (San Diego, Calif.) are into Round 3 alongside the day’s top performer Nolan Rapoza (Long Beach, Calif.) — who posted an excellent 8.60 and 15.87 heat total, the event’s highest.

Sara Wakita - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Sara Wakita (JPN) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Wednesday, January 16, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Event organizers will convene tomorrow morning and make a 7:30 a.m. EST call for a possible 8:00 a.m. EST for the completion of men’s Round 2 and women’s Round 3.

For more information, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.

The Florida Pro Women’s QS 3,000 and Men’s QS 1,500 will run in the best conditions from January 14 – 20 at Sebastian Inlet, Florida.

Remaining Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Round 2 (H9-16) Results:
Heat 9: Brisa Hennessy (HAW) 13.57, Emily Nishimoto (JPN) 10.03, Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) 9.63, Brooke Young (USA) 4.70
Heat 10: Melanie Suarez-Diaz (CNI) 9.04 , Meah Collins (USA) 6.90, Rachel Wilson (USA) 2.53, Minori Kawai (JPN) Withdrawn
Heat 11: Camilla Kemp (PRT) 11.00, Summer Macedo (HAW) 9.83, Neis Lartigue (FRA) 6.74, Cassidy McClain (USA) 3.30
Heat 12: Sara Wakita (JPN) 9.16, Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 6.84, Brooke Daigneault (USA) 3.87, Ava McGowan (USA) 3.46
Heat 13: Maud Le Car (FRA) 11.43, India Robinson (AUS) 9.90, Kayla Durden (USA) 6.60, Havanna Cabrero (PRI) 4.86
Heat 14: Leticia Canales Bilbao (ESP) 7.40, Uhaina Joly (FRA) 6.60, Eveline Hooft (NDL) 4.60
Heat 15: Alyssa Spencer (USA) 10.20, Julie Nishimoto (JPN) 9.87, Samantha Sibley (USA) 9.40
Heat 16: Mahina Maeda (JPN) 11.73, Brianna Cope (HAW) 10.93, Freya Prumm (AUS) 9.30, Maddie Garlough (USA) 6.70

Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Round 3 Match Ups:
Heat 1: Leilani McGonagle (CRI), Sophie McCulloch (AUS), Zoe McDougall (HAW), Chelsea Roett (BRB)
Heat 2: Autumn Hays (USA), Josefina Ane (ARG), Tiare Thompson (USA), Chelsea Tuach (BRB)
Heat 3: Zoe Benedetto (USA), Cannelle Bulard (FRA), Rachel Presti (DEU), Carol Henrique (PRT)
Heat 4: Nao Omura (JPN), Olivia Pessanha (USA), Tia Blanco (PRI), Caroline Marks (USA)
Heat 5: Brisa Hennessy (HAW), Melanie Suarez Diaz (CNY), Summer Macedo (HAW), Kirra Pinkerton (USA)
Heat 6: Emily Nishimoto (JPN), Meah Collins (USA), Camilla Kemp (PRT), Sara Wakita (JPN)
Heat 7: Maud Le Car (FRA), Leticia Canales Bilbao (ESP), Julie Nishimoto (JPN), Brianna Cope (HAW)
Heat 8: India Robinson (AUS), Uhaina Joly (FRA), Alyssa Spencer (USA), Mahina Maeda (JPN)

Men’s Florida Pro QS 1,500 Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.00, Michel Flores (BRA) 10.73, Eric Geiselman (USA) 8.10, Ben Wingate (USA) 4.90
Heat 2: Derek Gomes (VEN) 8.14, Jackson Butler (USA) 7.43, Yuri Schoenau (BRA) 7.10, James Hogan (USA) 5.93
Heat 3: Cobie Gittner (USA) 11.77, Luke Gordon (USA) 11.33, Namor Cayres (BRA) 6.73, Joshua Chester (HAW) 3.57
Heat 4: Ryan Huckabee (USA) 10.94, Colt Ward (USA) 8.97, William Hedleston (USA) 7.63, Blayr Barton (USA) 7.07
Heat 5: Chauncey Robinson (USA) 12.33, Quentin Turko (USA) 8.83, Dustin Richardson (USA) 5.76, Frank Chenault (USA) 0.00
Heat 6: Tommy Coleman (USA) 11.50, Braden Jones (USA) 11.03, Davi Toledo (BRA) 9.90, Kai Delorenzo (USA) 5.14
Heat 7: Nolan Rapoza (USA) 11.20, Hagan Johnson (USA) 10.14, Parker Swoish (USA) 7.03
Heat 8: Che Allan (BRB) 11.70, John Mel (USA) 9.83, Ethan Mudge (USA) 8.40, Chase Modelski (USA) 8.20
Heat 9: Josh Burke (BRB) 14.47 Logan Hayes (USA) 12.24, David Dorne (GLP) 10.43, Colin Shinn (USA) 5.83
Heat 10: Jeremy Carter (USA) 14.27, Fergus Kelly (USA) 8.57, Sterling Foster (USA) 7.06Giorgio Gomez (USA) 5.94
Heat 11: Robbie McCormick (USA) 13.40, Tyler Gunter (USA) 12.34, Phillippe Chagas (BRA) 9.47, Alex Fry (USA) 5.50
Heat 12: Stevie Pittman (USA) 9.60, Dylan Hord (USA) 8.53, Logan Hofstetter (USA) 7.53, Kalum Temple (CAN) 5.13
Heat 13: Noah Schweizer (USA) 12.70, Sean Woods (USA) 11.20, Kevin Schulz (USA) 10.73, Andrew Fletcher (USA) 3.70
Heat 14: Franklin Serpa (BRA) 12.57, Austin Neumann (USA) 10.80, Jose Lopez (VEN) 8.50, Cole Deveney (USA) 4.70
Heat 15: Michael Dunphy (USA) 10.30, Brandon Todd (USA) 9.40, Keoni Lasa (EUK) 5.93, Ryan Goerig (USA) 0.43
Heat 16: Daniel Glenn (USA) 13.33, Cam Richards (USA) 12.36, Beck Adler (USA) 7.33, Blake Speir (USA) 5.20

Men’s Florida Pro QS 1,500 Round 2 (H1-4) Results:
Heat 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) 15.57, Luke Gordon (USA) 15.53, Derek Gomes (VEN) 10.40, Colt Ward (USA) 9.70
Heat 2: Jackson Butler (USA) 10.63, Ryan Huckabee (USA) 8.50, Cobie Gittner (USA) 5.64, Michel Flores (BRA) 2.46
Heat 3: John Mel (USA) 14.00, Chauncey Robinson (USA) 12.00, Hagan Johnson (USA) 8.70, Tommy Coleman (USA) 8.17
Heat 4: Nolan Rapoza (USA) 15.87, Che Allan (USA) 8.86, Braden Jones (USA) 8.26, Quentin Turko (USA) 6.90

Remaining Men’s Florida Pro QS 1,500 Round 2 (H4-8) Match Ups:
Heat 5: Josh Burke (BRB), Jeremy Carter (USA), Tyler Gunter (USA), Dylan Hord (USA)
Heat 6: Logan Hayes (USA), Fergus Kelly (USA), Robbie McCormick (USA), Stevie Pittman (USA)
Heat 7: Noah Schweizer (USA), Franklin Serpa (BRA), Brandon Todd (USA), Cam Richards (USA)
Heat 8: Sean Woods (USA), Austin Neumann (USA), Michael Dunphy (USA), Daniel Glenn (USA)

About the WSL
The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The organization, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running more than 180 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed Men’s and Women’s World Champions across all tours.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, John Florence, Lakey Peterson, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Taylor Jensen, Honolua Blomfield, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most dynamic field of play of any global sport.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com

Sophie McCulloch - Photo © WSL / John Ferguson

Internationals Decimate Opening Day, Locals Thrive at Florida Pro

– Australia’s McCulloch, French competitors Bulard and Lartigue Lead Opening Day Charge
– Stuart, Florida’s Benedetto Topples Top-Seeded Pauline Ado
– Defending Champ Marks Comes Out Firing

Neis Lartigue - Photo © WSL / John Ferguson

Neis Lartigue (FRA) surfing her Round 1 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Tuesday, January 15, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

SEBASTIAN INLET, Florida/USA (Tuesday, January 15, 2019) – The World Surf League (WSL) Women’s Qualifying Series (QS) got action underway at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 after Monday’s lay day and steamed through Round 1, as well as Round 2 Heats 1 – 8, at Sebastian Inlet. Building swell filled into the inlet throughout the day, providing two-to-four foot windswell and some of the top QS competitors made their debuts in stunning fashion. Men’s competition was called off for the day as the women took over the lineup and delivered inspiring performances.

Round 1’s top performance belonged to Biarritz, France, native Neis Lartigue with a brilliant 15.26 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Lartigue locked in one of the highest single-wave score of a 7.93 (out of a possible 10) en route to her debut win and had fellow competitors in a combination situation — meaning they needed two new scores to total Lartigue’s. Now that the nerves are out of the way, the Frenchwoman will be up first when Round 2 resumes.

“It was tricky at the beginning of the heat and I wasn’t stressed, but I felt weird on my first few waves,” Lartigue said. “I told myself to calm down and just surf my way. I prefer to go right, but my scores came on my lefts so I was just trying to stay busy. It’s always a little nerve-racking to get the season started but I can relax today after getting a good heat total like that.”

Canelle Bulard - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Canelle Bulard (FRA) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Tuesday, January 15, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

But, it was her French compatriot Cannelle Bulard of Reunion Island that topped Lartigue with an excellent 8.33 after freefalling from attacking the wave’s lip. Bulard went on to earn the day’s highest heat total of a 15.66 in her outstanding debut. Though, the 25-year-old knows it’s just the beginning and there’s plenty of work to be done.

“It’s really good to get off to a start like that in the first event of the year,” Bulard said. “I would love to continue this kind of momentum. I watched the contest last year and it looked so cold, I was debating on coming but my friends talked me into it and I’m glad I did. It’s great traveling with friends I’ve known for a very long time to have that comfort and I think it showed in my heat.”

Sophie McCulloch - Photo © WSL / John Ferguson

Sophie McCulloch (AUS) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Tuesday, January 15, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Australian newcomer Sophie McCulloch started the day’s competition in-form with a solid 12.67 heat total in Round 1 Heat 1 and carried that fire into Round 2 for a second victory. The Alexandra Headland, Queensland, native drew from her Florida Pro experience last year and turned into success early on to start building momentum. McCulloch’s terrific Pro Junior career, earning multiple wins around the world, is behind her and now the 19-year-old only has one goal in mind this season.

“I was super keen on coming back after last year and I don’t think the cold gave it the best impression, but I’m loving it this time,” McCulloch said. “It was pretty important to get busy and settle the nerves right away. I got my groove and started finding those better scores, but it looked completely different even this afternoon [for my second heat]. My goal this year is to qualify. I think rather than focus on looking at the end result I’m just going to try and surf how I freesurf. Nerves got the better of me last year so my coach this year just said to me go out and just surf how you know how.”

Zoe Benedetto - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Zoe Benedetto (USA) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Tuesday, January 15, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Early shockwaves were sent through the event as local wildcard Zoe Benedetto (Stuart, Fla.) helped eliminate former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Pauline Ado (FRA) in Round 2 Heat 5. The 13-year-old smashed a closeout section and rode out clean to earn a near-excellent 7.67, catapulting her from fourth to first place. Benedetto had her expectations set coming into this event, but now boasts a win over one of the sport’s elite.

“First event of the year and I beat a real professional surfer, I can’t believe that,” Benedetto said. “I knew if she got a good wave she would crush it so that was crazy. I wasn’t really nervous about the people in my heat, but more so the waves because they were breaking ten feet from the shoreline at times. It feels good to win with my family and everyone here, and especially with me and my friends just wanting to beat each other all the time. I don’t want to lose here or have a bad performance being the wildcard after losing first round getting it from WSL last year — you want to earn that and prove yourself.”

Caroline Marks - PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Caroline Marks (USA) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Tuesday, January 15, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

The day concluded with defending event champion Caroline Marks (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) returning to her native home state victorious in Round 2 Heat 8. The 16-year-old looked sharp in her debut and came out of the water wanting more despite garnering a 14.90 heat total. Marks is eager to defend her title among the talented field on hand and will look to improve moving forward.

“It’s awesome to start the year off at home and I felt really good in the water, I just wanted to catch more waves,” Marks said. “I’m such a frother and just want more and more every time, but I think that was a good first heat to start with. There’s a lot left in the tank which is good and I felt like that was just a warm-up. It’s so fun to surf heats again. I love competing and I’m really excited about the points on offer, as well as a lot of talented girls here so it’s not going to be easy.”

Coral Schuster - Photo © WSL / John Ferguson

Coral Schuster (USA) surfing her Round 2 heat at the Florida Pro QS 3,000 on Tuesday, January 15, 2018. PHOTO: © WSL/ John Ferguson

Also advancing, Coral Schuster (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) won her Round 1 Heat 11 bout and Rachel Presti’s (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) buzzer-beater earned her a spot into Round 3 to represent for their hometown support groups.

Event organizers will convene tomorrow morning and make a 7:30 a.m. EST call for a possible 8:00 a.m. EST start to finish Round 2 of the women before moving into men’s Round 1 action.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com

The Florida Pro Women’s QS 3,000 and Men’s QS 1,500 will run in the best conditions from January 14 – 20 at Sebastian Inlet, Florida.

Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 12.57, Eva Woodland (CRI) 7.94, Nagisa Tashiro (JPN) 7.60, Rosina Neuerer (DEU) 1.24
Heat 2: Tiare Thompson (USA) 9.33, Chiasa Maruyama (USA) 9.03, Nina Reynal (FRA) 6.17, Alexxa Elseewi (USA) 5.23
Heat 3: Kloee Openshaw (USA) 6.00, Rubiana Brownell (CRI) 5.64, Anastasia Ashley (USA) 5.57, Nakia Fleuren (AUS) 2.56
Heat 4: Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 8.40, Serena Nava (USA) 6.60, Charlotte Lange (USA) 4.96
Heat 5: Olivia Pessanha (USA) 8.60, Molly Kirk (USA) 5.00, Maddy Malizia (RUS) 4.83, Abigail Dixon (USA) 1.44
Heat 6: Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) 10.17, Makena Burke (USA) 5.13, Paulina Summers (CRI) 6.83, Brittany Penaroza (HAW) 11.04
Heat 7: Rachel Wilson (USA) 6.27, Brooke Young (USA) 6.17, Taylor Green (USA) 5.37, Natsuki Suda (JPN) 2.53
Heat 8: Melania Diaz (CNI) 13.10, Cassidy McClain (USA) 5.40, Emily Currie (GBR) 5.00
Heat 9: Neis Lartigue (FRA) 15.26, Brooke Daigneault (USA) 5.50, Maile Davis (USA) 3.10
Heat 10: Eveline Hooft (NDL) 12.00, Kayla Durden (USA) 4.10, Sarah Abbott (USA) 2.83, Morgan Iglay (USA) 0.83
Heat 11: Coral Schuster (USA) 10.13, Uhaina Joly (FRA) 5.46, Izzi Gomez (USA) 4.80, Sophie Falzone (USA) 1.60
Heat 12: Julie Nishimoto (JPN) 10.66, Maddie Garlough (USA) 8.33 Audrey Presti (DEU) 3.67, Jasmine Gailey (USA) 2.57

Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Round 2 (H1-8) Results:
Heat 1: Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 11.27, Marion Philippe (PYF) 4.43, Autumn Hays (USA) 3.43, Eva Woodland (CRI) 1.84
Heat 2: Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 12.33, Josefina Ane (ARG) 9.63, Chiasa Maruyama (USA) 3.43, Melanie Giunta (PER) 1.84
Heat 3: Tiare Thompson (USA) 7.70, Zoe McDougall (HAW) 6.93, Vahine Fierro (PYF) 6.34, Kloee Openshaw (USA) 1.80
Heat 4: Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 13.10, Chelsea Roett (BRB) 6.50, Rubiana Brownell (CRI) 5.40, Juliette Lacome (FRA) 4.37
Heat 5: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 11.04, Nao Omura (JPN) 7.10, Pauline Ado (FRA) 5.20, Serena Nava (USA) 3.94
Heat 6: Cannelle Bulard (FRA) 15.66, Olivia Pessanha (USA) 9.30, Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 8.90, Dominica Barona (ECU) 6.83
Heat 7: Tia Blanco (PRI) 9.57, Rachel Presti (DEU) 8.00, Brittany Penaroza (HAW) 5.44, Molly Kirk (USA) 4.14
Heat 8: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.90, Carol Henrique (PRT) 9.30, Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) 4.07, Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) 3.00

Remaining Women’s Florida Pro QS 3,000 Round 2 (H9-16) Matchups:
Heat 9: Brisa Hennessy (HAW), Emily Nishimoto (JPN), Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW), Brooke Young (USA)
Heat 10: Minori Kawai (JPN), Meah Collins (USA), Rachel Wilson (USA), Melanie Suarez-Diaz (CNI)
Heat 11: Summer Macedo (HAW), Camilla Kemp (PRT), Cassidy McClain (USA), Neis Lartigue (FRA)
Heat 12: Kirra Pinkerton (USA), Sara Wakita (JPN), Ava McGowan (USA), Brooke Daigneault (USA)
Heat 13: India Robinson (AUS), Maud Le Car (FRA), Havanna Cabrero (PRI), Kayla Durden (USA)
Heat 14: Kobie Enright (AUS), Leticia Canales Bilbao (ESP), Eveline Hooft (NDL), Uhaina Joly (FRA)
Heat 15: Alyssa Spencer (USA), Samantha Sibley (USA), Julie Nishimoto (JPN)
Heat 16: Mahina Maeda (JPN), Brianna Cope (HAW), Freya Prumm (AUS), Maddie Garlough (USA)

About the WSL
The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The organization, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running more than 180 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed Men’s and Women’s World Champions across all tours.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, John Florence, Lakey Peterson, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Taylor Jensen, Honolua Blomfield, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most dynamic field of play of any global sport.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com

Tia Blanco Changes Flags, Excited To Represent Puerto Rico In Surfing Competitions For The Rest Of Her Surf Career

The day before Tia Blanco left for Puerto Rico, we had the opportunity to shoot a few photos at Oceanside Harbor. As always, Tia’s surfing was fast and clean with explosive punctuation marks whenever a section loomed up. When Sunday night rolled around, it wasn’t a surprise at all to see an Instagram post of Tia holding a large, $5,000 winner’s check above her head in front of scores of Puerto Rican surf fans. However, Tia’s photo caption caught me off guard.
“I am very grateful to take the win here at the Corona Pro! I had a blast surfing in amazing conditions all weekend! Also, I am super excited to now be representing the Puerto Rican flag for the rest of my surfing career! This was the island I was born on and it is an honor to represent them! Much love.”
While most Instagram captions seem to be little more than filler for the photos they are paired with, here was some real information to contemplate. After absorbing the news, a bunch of questions suddenly came to mind–topics that Tia generously answered while exploring the island with her family.
 
corona-extra-pro-32-tia-blanco-snap-osiris-torres-apsprTia Blanco in winning form last weekend at the 32nd Corona Extra Pro at Domes Beach, Puerto Rico. Photo: © APSPR / Osiris Torres – Read the press release here >>

 

JettyGirl: First off, Tia, congratulations on winning the Corona Extra Pro at Domes Beach.
Tia Blanco: Thank you very much! The event was so much fun and the waves were unreal!

We were surprised to see “PR” next to your name on the heat sheets and then when you won the event, you announced that you would be representing the Puerto Rican flag for the rest of your surfing career. Was that a difficult decision since you’ve played such an integral part of USA surfing as a multiple ISA gold medalist over the years? How was the news received in the US and in PR?
I remember about 5 years ago when I was at the ISA Junior event in Nicaragua representing USA, the PR team came up to me saying that PR is the team that I should be a part of! However, at the time it just seemed like a nice thought, not something that could be realistic. Then, after seeing other surfers change their representation recently, I reached out to ISA to see what their rules and regulations were. Once the ISA confirmed with me that if I was born in PR , then I could represent their flag, it was very exciting news for me! I have always had a sense of connection with Puerto Rico and it has always been a part of my background/story. PR is technically still a part of America and my dad served in the US military there, therefore, I still feel like I am representing both flags in a way. Puerto Rico is such an amazing place, filled with the most passionate and kind people. It is so honorable to now be flying their flag!

As a representative of Puerto Rico, will you be spending time on the island training with any of their other local athletes for upcoming international competitions? As part of the change of flags, will you be moving there?
Definitely! I am so excited to spend more time in Puerto Rico and fully immerse myself in the culture. I am in love with the waves, food, and people in PR, so I definitely want to spend more time there.

What is your favorite break in PR (that’s not a secret spot)?
I would say one of my favorite breaks was Domes in Rincon. I was telling my family that is has been a long time since I have surfed perfect waves and how much fun I had.

When we visited the island, the locals insisted that we try Mofongo—have you had the opportunity to try a vegan version? If not Mofongo, what is your favorite Puerto Rican dish?
Mofongo!!! I love mofongo, tostones, and yuca so much, lol. I wish there was somewhere in California where I can eat those foods more.

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico six months ago, it was really heart-warming to see how neighbor helped neighbor and how people bound together for the good of the community. Hurricane or not, it’s a trait we’ve witnessed over and over again with Puerto Rican friends. When you’re exiting the water in future events and they ask you about your birthplace, what is it about the island or its people that inspires you the most?
During my last visit to Puerto Rico I heard some pretty unimaginable stories that were hard to comprehend. However, I did hear some amazing stories as well. For example, when the students went back to school they had no power. One of the teachers told me that the day the power switched on, all the kids erupted with joy! She said that they immediately started cheering, jumping, and hugging one another! When I heard that story I had chicken skin! I am inspired by the passion and good energy that Puerto Rican’s have within them! Their passion for their island really gives me motivation to work hard and do my best to represent them well.
 

Follow Tia Blanco on Instagram >> @tiablanco

Tia Blanco backside snap. Photo: Chris Grant / JettyGirlTia Blanco, Oceanside, California. Photo: Chris Grant / JettyGirl

32nd Edition of Corona Extra Pro Surfing Circuit O’neill Series Crowns Brian Toth and Tiarah Blanco

32nd Edition of Corona Extra Pro - Brian Toth - Photo: Osiris Torres, APSPR©Brian Toth. Photo: © APSPR / Osiris Torres

32nd Edition of Corona Extra Pro - Tia Blanco - Photo: Osiris Torres, APSPR©Tiarah Blanco. Photo: © APSPR / Osiris Torres
 

32nd Edition of Corona Extra Pro Surfing Circuit O’neill Series Crowns Brian Toth and Tiarah Blanco
Beautiful 4 to 6 foot conditions graced Domes Beach in the morning for the 32nd Edition of the Corona Extra Pro. The crowds were treated to professional surfing from the men and women. Up for grabs was the 32nd Edition of Corona Extra Title and the Corona Extra Pro Surfing Circuit O’neill Series. Surfers started off the day in clean conditions but as the West wind picked up throughout the day, conditions became more challenging. Briand Toth (PR) and Tiarah Blanco (PR) were able to come out on top with their champion performances. The Corona Extra Pro Surfing Circuit O’neill Series also crowned circuit champions, Brian Toth (PR) and Alexis Engstrom (PR).

32nd Edition of Corona Extra Pro - Beach Crowd - Photo: Osiris Torres, APSPR©Beach Crowds. Photo: © APSPR / Osiris Torres

Top men performers were Cory Lopez (FL), Tommy Bursian (PR), Ricardo Lucke (PR), Rob Kelly (US), Bryan Laide (PR), Mauricio Díaz (PR), and Gabriel Escudero (PR). Cory Lopez held down the highest wave of the day with a 9.23 followed closely behind by Tommy Bursian with a 9.17. The final heat between Nolan and Toth was an action packed final. Nolan got off to a quick start with a 7.27 and a 6.53 putting Toth playing catch up but Toth put up a good fight with a 7.07 and a 7.50 to take the lead over Nolan, a Corona Extra Pro veteran. Nolan was surfing injured from his back and neck, got injured two days prior to the event while surfing warming up for the event at Surfers Beach. The injury put Nolan out of the water for a day leading up to the event.

32nd Edition of Corona Extra Pro - Tia Blanco - Photo: Osiris Torres, APSPR©Tiara Blanco. Photo: © APSPR / Osiris Torres

On the women’s side of the action the day started off with Semifinal 1. Top performers for the women were semifinalists’ Idalis Alvarado (PR) and Molly Kirk (US). Champion Tiarah Blanco held down the top heat points of the event with a 9.33 on her 2nd wave and a 7.83 on her last wave for total of 17.16 points. Alexis Engstrom stayed busy trying to catch up with Tiara who utilized her priority to take the waves with the best score potential.
Thanks to our generous sponsors: Corona Extra, O’neill, Tequila José Cuervo, Mundo Rad, Hang Loose Surf Shop, and Werner Vega Surfboards.
garazi sanchez surf photos

Basque Country Surfer, Garazi Sanchez, 2018

Garazi Sanchez 2018 from Garazi Sanchez on Vimeo.

 


The ocean has always been my home
There, I’ve grown up
And learnt the most valuable lessons of life
That we are people who need dreams
And aspirations
That if I’m patient
I’ll be able to understand mother nature
That if I fight and don’t give up
My body and mind will become stronger
That those who follow their dreams are scared
And feel lonely
But at the end of the day, everything is worth it
That you will lose a lot
And you will want to quit
But you will continue
And that’s the most important part of the journey
That when you win
It’s not the medal that matters
But those you were with along the journey
Sport, surfing at the end
Is my way to become a better person
For me, it’s not only about achieving my dream
But about the person I become going for it

– Garazi Sánchez

 

Film & Edit By
@juanlabradora, @jorgelekunberri
Surfer
@garazisanchez

 

garazi sanchez surf photos

Lakey Peterson - © WSL / Cestari

World Surf League (WSL) News: Julian Wilson and Lakey Peterson Win Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast

JULIAN WILSON AND LAKEY PETERSON WIN QUIKSILVER AND ROXY PRO GOLD COAST
– WILSON AND PETERSON TAKE JEEP LEADER JERSEY FOR FIRST TIME HEADING TO BELLS
– ROOKIE COLAPINTO FINDS PERFECTION AT FIRING KIRRA
– BUCHAN AND ANDREW SETTLE FOR SECOND PLACE AT PICTURE-PERFECT KIRRA

 

Lakey Peterson - Photo: © WSL / Sloane
Lakey Peterson of USA after winning the Roxy Pro, Gold Coast, 2018. Photo: © WSL / Sloane

COOLANGATTA, Queensland/AUS (Thursday, March 15, 2018) – The first stop on the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast, witnessed an incredible start to the season as Lakey Peterson (USA) and Julian Wilson (AUS) claimed victory today in extraordinary conditions at Kirra on the Gold Coast of Australia.
Unpredictable performances and massive upsets shocked surfing’s biggest stage at this year’s season opener to remind the world that anything can happen on the Championship Tour. In addition to Peterson and Wilson taking the wins today, a new generation of surfers stepped up to showcase their progression, determination, and potential.
Peterson blitzed through the competition with the goal to surpass her 2017 Roxy Pro runner-up finish. The Californian was unstoppable as she took down two-time WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) in the Quarterfinals, Malia Manuel (HAW) in the Semifinals, and Keely Andrew (AUS) in the Final.

Lakey Peterson - Photo: © WSL / Cestari
Lakey Peterson (USA) flies out of a Kirra barrel to earn her first CT victory since 2012. Photo: © WSL / Cestari

“I don’t even know what to say to say — there is too much emotion,” Peterson said. “I feel like I’ve been working for seven years to get another win. Just to finally have it, it’s super surreal, and I’m so grateful. It beats you down if you don’t ever win something. It’s been a while, so the hard work pays off. I just got such a great support crew. It’s so awesome. Mike [Parsons] and I have literally been working together forever and that win means so much to the both of us.”
Peterson is one of the most consistent high-scoring surfers on Tour and continues to push performance boundaries in the competitive space. The intensity and innovation brought by Peterson are now paying off with her first CT win since 2012. Last season, the Californian had previously earned runner-up finishes at this event and in France but now overtakes Wright for the top spot on the Jeep Leaderboard.

Lakey Peterson - Photo: © WSL / Sloane
Lakey Peterson (USA) celebrates her win at the 2018 Roxy Pro Gold Coast. Photo: © WSL / Sloane

“I’m going to hold onto that Jeep yellow jersey until the very last event,” continued Peterson. “My goal is to stay steady the whole year and just believe in myself and enjoy the ride. I feel like I’m finally comfortable with my life and with my surfing where I just really want to enjoy it. Thanks to the WSL for giving us such great conditions today, and pushing us and really helping us elevate our level. It’s just such a fun time to be a part of it all, and I just feel humbled and blessed to be here doing what I love.”
Peterson dominated the Final from the get-go, posting an excellent 8.00 point ride for a long barrel ride. She then backed it up immediately with a 7.67, leaving Andrew in a combination situation (needing two scores). Andrew was unable to find a wave of substance, which left Peterson to take the first event win of 2018.
Previously, Andrew took down Australian superstar Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in the Semifinals and six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in the Quarterfinals. The runner-up result for Andrew is the second Finals appearance of her career. Andrew, who powerfully charged into the new season, will look to continue to climb the rankings and earn her first CT victory. The 23-year-old Australian will now vault from 11th to 2nd on the Jeep Leaderboard.

Julian Wilson - Photo: © WSL / Cestari
Julian Wilson (AUS) is the WINNER of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast after defeating Adrian Buchan (AUS) in the final at Kirra, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. Photo: © WSL / Cestari

Wilson has had a rollercoaster start to his season after injuring his shoulder in late January, then welcoming his child into the world with his wife, Ashley, last week. The Sunshine Coast local was unsure if he would compete at this event but surprised all with the first win of the season and the fourth CT win of his career.
“This is a childhood dream come true to come down from the Sunshine Coast and win the Quiksilver Pro,” Wilson said. “This is the closest event to home for me and watching guys win this event when I was younger is what lit the fire for me to want to be on Tour, so to win, is very special. I learned a lot about myself at this event, and through this injury, and the birth of my baby girl, Olivia, and my wife, Ashley. Honestly, watching the birth of my first child gave me an unbelievable strength to just suck up the pain in my shoulder, and come down here, and do what I needed to do. My wife has been a huge inspiration through the whole experience, so I want to thank Ashley for that.”
Wilson has always been in the World Title conversation, but this win provides the 29-year-old with his best ever start to his Title campaign. Wilson will sport the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey heading into the next stop on the CT, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach competition, which starts March 28 and runs through April 8, 2018.
“I’m happy to have a better result in Australia than I did after all three events in Australia last year,” continued Wilson. “There’s a massive positive in that. I’m looking forward to Bells, to compete again and work off this injury.”

Julian Wilson - Photo: © WSL / Sloane
Today’s win for Julian Wilson (AUS) at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast now moves him to the top spot on the Jeep Leaderboard. Photo: © WSL / Sloane

The intense men’s Final saw the two Australians, Wilson and Adrian Buchan (AUS), punch wave-for-wave, fighting their way out of massive tubes for the win. Wilson kicked off the heat with a fiery start, a near-perfect 9.93, by coming out of a huge barrel. Wilson and Buchan continued to charge the Kirra sets, resulting in a close race for first. Buchan attacked back with a 6.50 and an 8.60 but was unable to overtake his compatriot.

Adrian Buchan - Photo: © WSL / Cestari
Adrian Buchan (AUS) is the RUNNER-UP of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast after placing second to Julian Wilson (AUS) in the final at Kirra, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. Photo: © WSL / Cestari

Having won two CT events in his career, Buchan is no stranger to the pressure on the big stage. The technically-gifted, rail-surfer moved through the field with precision, even on the final day, where the hollow Kirra waves would put most goofy-footers at a disadvantage. In the end, Buchan was up against the ropes with a rampaging Wilson running away with the lead, but he admitted that he was happy to finish second to his close friend.
“Obviously you want to win events, but I’m so happy to see Julian [Wilson] take this one out,” Buchan said. “I know he’s had so much to deal with recently with his injury and becoming a father, so this win would feel so amazing for him. Sharing pumping Kirra with one other person out — who happens to be your mate — is incredible. I don’t think you could ask for anything better than that.”

Griffin Colapinto - Photo: © WSL / Cestari
Griffin Colapinto (USA) advanced to the Semifinals of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast after winning Quarterfinal 1 at Kirra, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. Colapinto scored a perfect ten point ride in the heat, the first in his rookie year on the Championship Tour. Photo: © WSL / Sloane

Griffin Colapinto (USA), the standout rookie from San Clemente California, amazed the world today with the first Perfect 10 of the 2018 CT season. Colapinto miraculously made his way out of three deep barrels in one wave to set the bar for the new season.
“I’ve never had three barrels on one wave so it felt amazing, particularly in a heat,” Colapinto said. “I think it was the best wave of my life. I’m so happy to get third in my first event. I’m loving the CT and hope I won’t be going anywhere for a very long time. I’m loving it here in Australia, the people on the Gold Coast are the best.”
The 19-year-old has been outshining surfing’s veterans in the first event of his rookie season, including his wins over Joel Parkinson (AUS), the 2012 WSL Champion and Gold Coast favorite, and veteran Michel Bourez (PYF). Unfortunately, Colapinto was unable to advance out of his Semifinal matchup against Wilson but will still exit as the rising-star of the event. All eyes will be on the young challenger this season to see how far he will push professional surfing in his rookie year.
Owen Wright (AUS), 2017 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast winner, was stopped in the first Quarterfinal by Buchan after struggling to find a rhythm at Kirra. Wright will exit with a 5th place result, moving to 5th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
Earlier today, rookie Tomas Hermes (BRA) delivered another shock to the first event of the year by eliminating Filipe Toledo (BRA) in the Quarterfinals. Toledo’s result will boost him from 10th to equal 5th on the Jeep Leaderboard. Hermes’ Semifinal result blasts him up to 3rd on the rankings and well in the 2018 Rookie of the Year race.
The world’s best surfers will now head to Bells Beach for the Rip Curl Pro, Stop No. 2 on the WSL Championship Tour, starting March 28 through April 8, 2018.

 

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Final Results:
1 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.43
2 – Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.10
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.00 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 9.17
SF 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.77 def. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 11.66
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.50 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 2.50
QF 2: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 8.73 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 7.33
QF 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.44 def. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 10.00
QF 4: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 16.43 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.44
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Final Results:
1 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.67
2 – Keely Andrew (AUS) 5.67
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.00 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.33
Heat 2: Keely Andrew (AUS) 7.50 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 6.77
2018 WSL Men’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (After Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast):
1 -Julian Wilson (AUS) 10,000 pts
2 – Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7,800 pts
3 – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 6,085 pts
3 – Tomas Hermes (BRA) 6,085 pts
2018 Women’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (After Roxy Pro Gold Coast):
1 -Lakey Peterson (USA) 10,000 pts
2 – Keely Andrew (AUS) 7,800 pts
3 – Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 6,085 pts
3 – Malia Manuel (HAW) 6,085 pts

 

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.

 

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