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 QS 1,000, in two-to-three foot swell providing electric moments from top-seeded competitors.
Pictured: Women of the West Coast such as Talia Swindal took over in their debuts with jaw-dropping performances. Credit: © WSL / Steinmetz
The women’s Round of 40 and 32 finished in their entirety alongside the men’s Round of 64 with near-perfection, scattered upsets, and clutch performances.
Women’s competition set the tone for a big day of competition with top seeds making their debuts in decimating form. Candeleria Resano (NIC) lit up the Round of 40 with an impressive 14.35 (out of a possible 20) heat total, but it was Talia Swindal (USA) who stole the proceedings in her Round of 32, Heat 7 debut with a day’s best 15.75 and near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10).
The Malibu, California, competitor utilized her powerful forehand attack and laid everything to the end section of her wave to accrue near-perfection and set the standard for women’s competition.
“That felt so good to post a score like that in my first heat,” said Swindal. “I’ve had a couple bad events so it feels good to just relax and make a heat. Last year I was sick so I didn’t get to really experience more so this year has been great finding more waves, hanging out, and enjoying it.”
Pictured: The QS garnered a few new additions today, and Gabriel Griffin (USA) . Credit: © WSL / Steinmetz
Swindal’s fellow Californian and good friend, Bella Kenworthy (USA), posted an excellent 8.00 of her own just two heats prior and got her Ron Jon Quiksilver and ROXY Pro campaign underway. Kenworthy looks to better her Semifinal appearance in her first trip to Cocoa Beach last season, but also has her ambitions set on the Pro Junior and a chance to regain ground lost in Pismo Beach.
“The waves were pretty fun out there and gave you a few sections,” said Kenworthy. “I was under priority and I was trying to grind the insiders, but that one just kept giving me opportunities. I just wanted to surf a couple more heats, keep the jersey on, and really focus on the Pro Junior so it was good to get the jitters out in the QS first.”
Also joining the Round of 16 draw, current North America No. 3 Zoe Benedetto (USA), Central Florida’s own Kylie Pulcini, Barbados’ Chelsea Roett, Costa Rican duo Rachel Aguero and Rubiana Brownell, and Encinitas, California’s, Ella McCaffray (USA) all notched big heat wins.
Pictured: Kei Kobayashi (USA) is the only male surfer to claim both the QS and Pro Junior so far and showed he's up for the task once more in his debut. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
Former Victors, Familiar Faces Shine For Men's Top Seeds
Men’s QS top-seeded competitors joined in on the action to provide fireworks of their own with nail-biting upsets and prolific performances from emerging threats, alongside regional veterans.
Former event winner, both QS and Pro Junior, Kei Kobayashi (USA) wasted no time reacquainting himself with Cocoa Beach and posted a brilliant, 15.25 heat total. The San Clemente, California, competitor unleashed his backhand attack to accrue an excellent 8.50 before posting a 6.75 and putting his competitors in a combination situation. It’s been a tough road for Kobayashi away from the jersey and now he’s more determined than ever.
“It's cool, I think the I'm the only one to win both events and I've always had a good showing here which definitely motivates me,” said Kobayashi. “I'm stoked to be at 100 percent. I got in a bad accident and I'm alive which is what matters. Now I'm motivated to get my spot back into the Challenger Series and to see some swell here is really exciting so I'm looking forward to the next few days.”
Pictured: Bo Raynor (USA) returned to the jersey in dynamic form. Credit: © WSL / Steinmetz
One of the East Coast’s threats when in a jersey, Bo Raynor (USA), went to work alongside Barbadian duo Joshua Burke and Ocean Gittens, and Cannon Carr (USA).
Raynor’s powerful approach and aerial assault accrued a 15.00 heat total, including an excellent 8.00, as he made his return to competition for the first time since the Outer Banks.
“That was fun, I haven’t competed since home so it’s always good to the competitive side going and hopefully keep some more in the tank,” said Raynor. “If you have fun, it shows in your surfing and I’m just trying to keep it light. There were a few air sections out there so I tried to find some of those, and it’s just a good day when you wake up and get to go surf. I’d love to get a big result, but just trying to keep myself centered and you can’t force too much.”
Also making their presence known in the Round of 64, current North America No.1 Dimitiri Poulos (USA), defending event victor Michael Dunphy (USA), Cam Richards (USA), Ryan Huckabee (USA), Alan Cleland (MEX), Cole Houshmand (USA), Jett Schilling (USA), Tosh Talbot (CRI), Kyan Yang (USA), Will Deane (USA), Wheeler Hasburgh (CAN), and Noah Schweizer (USA).