It's the first event on North America's Junior Tour schedule and some familiar faces came prepared for a fresh start with fun conditions to match at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro. Nearly all the juniors are taking advantage of the Qualifying Series (QS) event, the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro QS 1,000, in town, though a few faced early eliminations.
However, for surfers such as Bo Raynor, it can be a blessing in disguise as they can now put all their focus toward the junior ranks -- for it's their last chance at making a breakthrough before moving onto the QS full-time.
The North Carolina native continues to fine-tune the smaller details of his surfing and his thought process continues to grow with each event. Raynor took that into consideration and it paid off with an impressive 15.00 (out of a possible 20) on his reset.
"Winter at home was so good and it was hard to leave for events, but I'm getting right back into it with this one," Raynor said. "I'm really putting my focus into the juniors this year and want to make the World Junior Championship after missing out the last few years. I've learned more each year, but something I'm working on is backing up my scores instead of waiting til the last few minutes where I start to panic. But, this is the year I hope and I'm going to give it my all."
Last year's Quarterfinalist Tommy McKeown is back wanting more this time around and started off with a Round One heat win, after punching his ticket into Round Three of the QS. The Oxnard, California, native came well-prepared for typical Cocoa Beach conditions and got a pleasant surprise coming in early for a few sessions. But, a classic error set the young competitor back a few heats.
"I signed up late so I actually ended up getting in as an alternate instead of being in Round Three where I would've started, but I'll just have to make up for that," McKeown said. "My goals are set for trying to make a few finals day heats and even try to take one out this year. I'm still nervous every heat, but each one settles me more and more so that last heat of the day I was ready -- it helps to get a few off the bat as well and get moving."
"I'm also getting into the right mindset of it all and starting to train out of the water just to help take this year a little more serious," McKeown added. "I've only got two more years left in the juniors so I'm ready to get more competitive and give it a good go."
The international field in attendance for the QS also trickles over into the junior ranks and Brazilian Lucas Vicente is still alive in both his backhand attack -- winning his Round One heat of both the QS and Pro Junior events.
Raynor's fellow East Coaster and South Carolina talent Micha Cantor made it through both of his QS heats as well and now looks to keep his momentum alive heading into a big Friday with both Round Two and Round Three of men's juniors on schedule.