Opening action of the World Surf League (WSL) Ron Jon Vans Junior Pro kicked off after an exciting day of Men's QS1000 and Junior Men competition. The Junior Women showed their knowledge of small-wave prowess and posted incredible, near-perfect scores throughout the Round of 24 and Quarterfinals -- setting up talent-filled Semifinal draws for tomorrow.
Coming in as the No.1 Seed for the Junior Women, Meah Collins (USA) showed why she holds that spot, posting a 9.33 and 8.07 in her opening heat. Going wave-for-wave with Round 1 stand out Alyssa Spencer (USA), Collins didn't back down and took the lead back on her final wave.
"I was a bit nervous when I saw it was small but once the heat started I was able to get the board moving so that felt really good," Collins said. "I was hoping to just get a wave that had a little bit of face on it and that stood up because most of them are pretty mushy but I ended up finding a good one so definitely felt stoked on it. It's great to have a contest here, only being a short flight away and I love Cocoa - this wave is challenging and gets you into the grind."
Starting off the Junior Women's competition, Alyssa Spencer (USA) went ballistic in the opening heat of the Ron Jon Vans Junior Pro, posting the event's highest single-wave score of 9.50 and heat total with a 17.67. Only 12 years old, the young Californian talent set the bar high for what's to be expected of her fellow competitors.
"I was in the wrong spot for the first few waves of the heat but then I finally found a couple really good ones," Spencer said. "It felt a lot better to get that first big score because I actually got into a good wave and felt more confident. This is my first event and it's so cool to be here, it's so fun to be in this type of contest for a good experience."
Both Collins and Spencer will face-off once more in the Semifinals tomorrow when competition resumes.
Posting her own excellent score of 8.17, Kirra Pinkerton (USA) looked in-form coming from the west coast to the shores of Cocoa Beach, Fla. Beginning the heat with a 7.00, Pinkerton took off when an early lead but had to regain her front-runner position after Malia Osterkamp (USA) earned a quick backup. However, the Californian battle would ultimately be won by Pinkerton in decisive fashion.
"The waves are pretty fun and was a lot better than I thought," Pinkerton said. "The lefts just lined up perfectly and then the right reform would push you through to finish off. It's a little scary bypassing the first round because you don't know how the girls are going to do after already competing in the first heat and already know how the waves are but it's exciting."
Her experience here at Shepard Park is a bit overwhelming to the young talent but all the nerves seem to be put aside once the jersey is on. This contest marks her first event toward much bigger goals in 2016 and has started off strong here in Cocoa Beach.
"It's definitely gone really fast and I'm excited to have made it this far -- it's better than I've done in a long time," Pinkerton said. "This is my first time here and I'm stoked because surfing back home is a lot different than here so I've been training all week which has paid off. I want to make a run at first-place in the rankings so I can have a shot at the World Championships and all these points help that goal."
Event organizers will reconvene Sunday at 8:30 a.m. for a 9:00 a.m. start to get the Men's QS1000 Quarterfinals in the water before returning to Junior Pro action.