The O'Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro marked the scenic venue's last WSL event back in 2009 when Nathaniel Curran took the win over three Floridians -- Aaron Cormican, Cory Lopez, and Blake Jones. Now the Florida Pro pres by Sunshine State Florida Lager Men's QS1,500 brings a long-lost gem back to the QS schedule January 18 through 24.
The crystal clear waters of Sebastian Inlet are just thirty-four miles south from 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater's hometown of Cocoa Beach, Florida and only a mere six miles from the iconic Hobgood brother's native Melbourne Beach, Florida. But, where all that history was laid is where emerging talents, and even a few native legends, return to contest for 1,500 points.
Chauncey Robinson is one Floridian ready for more events in his area. Robinson finished off his 2017 QS season with a runner-up in Barbados last November and wants to pick up where he left off for his hometown crowd of Melbourne Beach, Florida just down the road.
"It's such a big opportunity that I would love to capitalize on," Melbourne Beach-native Chauncey Robinson said. "The wave is super tricky, but it can produce some special moments.Growing up surfing Sebastian nearly every day, a majority of the guys I've idolized over the years there competed in the events and I've heard tons of stories -- and watched the highlight packages of each event countless times."
Gabe Kling is one surfer from that era Robinson had the chance to compete against last year at the WRV Outer Banks Pro. Kling may be past his days of chasing the QS, but never shys away from a contest -- even if it means missing a trip up to New England for his beloved Jacksonville Jaguars' AFC Championship game this weekend.
The 37-year-old knows the importance of a contest near home after chasing them around the world in his career.
"We as surfers just love to have events near us and the opportunity it provides for the upcoming kids is incredible," Kling said. "Any chance they have to do a QS while still in the junior ranks is a great experience and maybe even get on a roll to get into more events after the seeding shuffle. I love still doing these events and competing so the chance to do it down the road is great."
One of those Pro Juniors looking to get a jumpstart on the QS season is Vero Beach, Florida's Tommy Coleman. The youngster put together a full year in 2017 that ended with a No. 9 Regional QS rank and No. 7 finish on the Pro Junior rankings. But, he has some special memories of Sebastian Inlet.
" I remember watching this event and hoped to surf in it one day and I'm so stoked it's back," Coleman said. "Everyone's been pretty amped and asking about it with all the billboards down the highway. It's great to see more events close. It makes it more affordable to try to get points."
A fun looking forecast is predicted for these surfers to showcase what they can do in their home state alongside their fellow contingent. Tune in LIVE throughout the event window to watch all the action unfold alongside the Ron Jon Florida Pro Women's QS6,000.
The Florida Pro pres. by Sunshine State Florida Lager runs alongside the Ron Jon Florida Pro pres. by Sunshine State Florida Lager Women's QS6,000 January 18 through 24.