The cold weather subsided as competition heated up at Sebastian Inlet with north winds dying down throughout the day, and provided competitors ample scoring opportunities.
The Florida Pro Men's QS1,5000 got Round Two match-ups underway following the women's action and got through the first eight heats of competition. Top seeds made their debuts and set the pace for what's to be expected.
No. 1 seed and New Smyrna Beach, Florida, native Evan Geiselman is in unfamiliar territory after typically starting his season in Australia. But, the return of the Qualifying Series (QS) to Sebastian Inlet was something Geiselman was not going to miss. He got right to work with an excellent 8.00 and a 6.00 in a lineup that the Floridian hasn't visited for nearly seven years.
"It's crazy to think I was down here every weekend surfing the amateur events and now here we are with prestigious QS events," Geisleman said. "This is really cool, especially for the young kids -- I remember growing up seeing all this so it's great to see it back. I'm really looking forward to seeing what this swell does, it could get really fun this weekend."
One of Barbados' top talents, Josh Burke, is familiar with the East Coast and capitalized on the waves that came to him. 2017 was a breakthrough year for the him after breaking into the QS10,000s, but he was unable to hold that ranking by season's end. Burke now looks to get moving early and reassess his goals for a fresh start.
"The waves are a lot better than I expected just coming to Florida a lot, but it's way colder than I've ever seen it -- I think it's the first time I've worn a full suit," Burke said. "Last year I started in the QS6,000s so my goal was to be in the QS10,000s and I had a chance at the end of the year, but it didn't go my way. I've spent the last two months at home just getting ready for the year and helping my dad with his surf camp which has been great. Now it's time to just make heats and I'd like to be in the Top 50 at the end of year at least."
Giorgio Gomez is originally from just down the highway in Jupiter, Florida, but now calls San Clemente, California, home. The transplant retained his ability to grind it out on the lower tide conditions and earned his way into Round Three. But, Gomez has his eyes set on a much bigger prize than just a debut heat win.
"I grew up watching the [Sebastian Inlet] Pro and just dreamed of surfing a pro event out here so I'm just super happy to be here," Gomez said. "Everyone's goal is to win this thing or at least make the Final, and I'm here to build points and try to get into those QS10,000s by year's end. At the same time, I'm not too worried about outcome and more focused on the process to improve myself in every aspect."
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. to assess conditions for a possible 8:00 a.m. start for either the remaining heats of men's Round Two or kickoff women's Round Three. Tune in LIVE at www.worldsurfleague.com to watch all the opening day action unfold at Sebastian Inlet.
The Ron Jon Florida Pro pres. by Sunshine State Florida Lager Women's QS6,000 and Florida Pro Men's QS1,500 will run January 18 through 24 at Sebastian Inlet, Florida.