Familiar faces and emerging talents kicked off opening day of the World Surf League (WSL) Ron Jon Quiksilver and Roxy Pro, a men’s and women’s Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, and Pro Junior in impressive fashion.
Two-foot windswell provided tough conditions that competitors were able to overpower as the men’s QS Round of 88 and Pro Junior, Round of 48 got underway.
Women's QS and Pro Junior competition were called OFF for the day.
Pictured: Schweizer's experience among some of the best in the world has him set up for success near home. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
Former North America QS Regional Champion Noah Schweizer (USA) made his anticipated return to the jersey in dynamic form, posting the day’s best, single-wave score of 7.25 (out ofa possible 10) and heat total, a 14.50 (out of a possible 20).
The New Smryna Beach, Florida, competitor relishes the opportunity to compete near home as he pushes forward to battle familiar, top-seeded surfers in the Round of 64.
“It’s only an hour from my house and I haven’t done a competition in a while so I figured if I’m going to do one, it’ll be here at home,” said Schweizer. “I love it and I miss competing, but I started focusing more on life away from the events as I was getting a bit older. But, I’m stoked, it looks like we have good waves all week so hopefully it turns on.”
Pictured: The QS garnered a few new additions today, and Gabriel Griffin (USA) . Credit: © WSL / Steinmetz
In his QS debut, Gabriel Griffin (USA) unleashed his forehand to accrue opening day’s best single-wave score of a 6.75. The newcomer then backed it up with a 5.85 to regain the lead from Peter Stewart (USA), taking down his first-ever QS heat.
“I’m so stoked to win my first heat, it’s so exciting,” said Griffin. “I was kind of just scrambling and looking for the good waves. I definitely got lucky on a few and this gives me a good boost of confidence heading into the next one.”
Also notching clutch, opening day victories, Barbadian duo Jacob Burke and Ocean Gittens move into the Round of 64 alongside Carl Burger (USA), Derek Gomez (VEN), Kole Mazzerella (USA), Benji Lange (USA), Logan Radd (USA), Bryce Celaya (USA), Kai Gale Grani (PAN), and Tucker Collins (USA).
Pictured: Kyan Yang (USA) is on the hunt for a big result and started off in dominant fashion. Credit: © WSL / Steinmetz
Following men’s QS action, the Pro Juniors got their competition underway and dominant showcases followed to kickstart their second event of the 2023 season.
Encinitas, California’s Kyan Yang debuted in phenomenal form to post the Pro Juniors top performance of a 15.83 heat total, earning an excellent 8.75 in the process. Yang witnessed the World Junior Championships at his home break and now has his eyes set on making it there himself, knowing there’s a lot of work to be done with two events left.
“I surfed down the beach and it was so tough, almost unsurfable, so when I went out for that heat I thought it was firing (laughs),” said Yang. “It feels good and I usually don’t feel to worried about surfing waves because I’m a smaller guy, and I did so bad in Pismo that I want to do better here. Watching the World Juniors at my home break, I want to be there this year so I’m hoping for a good result.”
Entering his last year as a Pro Junior, Blayr Barton (USA) set his goals to be a part of the Top 2 by year’s end and proved his determination with an impressive, 14.75 heat total, debut. The Virginia Beach, Virginia, competitor’s aggressive backhand met the growing windswell in great fashion with an excellent 8.00 as he now prepares for more moving forward.
“That felt good to get a few, clean waves since it’s tough to find a good wave,” said Barton. “It’s so nice to be surfing an event in boardshorts again after the last two events (laughs). I’ve been having a few tough heats so to really open up in one felt great.”