NewsRon Jon Roxy Junior ProElla McCaffray

Zoe Benedetto Leads the Charge In Cocoa Beach

Short, sweet, and a few big moments adequately describe Saturday's action at the Ron Jon Quiksilver and Roxy Junior Pro events. Both men and women battled for their finals day draws and some usual suspects returned to great form on the men's side while a few familiar women's Pro Junior faces broke through in great fashion.

A few of the Floridian contingent represented well for their support crews on hand and a big finals day awaits those who could figure out the tricky lineup of Alan Shepard Park in Round 1 affairs.

Zoe Benedetto Tips The Scale In Debut

Zoe Benedetto (USA) winning her Round 1 heat at the Ron Jon Roxy Junior Pro. Benedetto maneuvered through a lineup she's quite familiar with. WSL / John Ferguson

The Palm City, Florida, native shined in her debut and boasted an excellent, meaning an 8.00 (out of a possible 10) or higher, 8.00 to come out firing. The 13-year-old continued her reign and ended with a 14.75 (out of a possible 20) heat total to solidify the day's top performance, but a big finals day still awaits. But, Benedetto came mentally prepared to win the heat before she even stepped foot in the water with the right mindset and has the right mindset to back up her confidence and is feeling right at home.

"I just tried to stay positive since it was small and I feel like if you come to the beach thinking the waves are bad, you won't do well in your heat," Benedetto said. "That's negative energy and you have to block that out. After getting that score I just started thinking 'what else can I do to get two turns now and a bigger score?' I'm always thinking where I can go next. It's great having my friends in the heats because we have that friendly rivalry going which brings in a whole new aspect to the heat."

Far From Home, But Ella McCaffray Found Her Comfort Zone

Ella McCaffray (USA winning her Round 1 heat at the Ron Jon Roxy Junior Pro. McCaffray compensated well for the softer waves of Florida, something she came prepared for. WSL / John Ferguson

Hailing from Cardiff, California, McCaffray adapted to the smaller conditions beautifully as she returns for her second time to Cocoa Beach -- posting a 7.00 which gave her the tie break when over Sawyer Lindblad. It was all strategy for the 15-year-old and she was able to adjust her plan accordingly when conditons got slow, but still hunt down opportunities throughout her heat. McCaffray is staying in the moment and taking each experience as it comes to her at a young age with plenty to learn.

"It was pretty tough out there and I got pretty nervous waiting for a while to get a wave but I'm happy to get the win in the end," McCaffray said. "My plan was to stay busy but nothing really came in so I just waited. It's hard to train for an event like this in California but the waves back home have been small so it's been good training. I'm really trying to make the Final and hopefully we get some better conditions."

Ava McGowan (USA) winning her Round 1 heat at the Ron Jon Roxy Junior Pro. Ava McGowan's last-minute ride saved her campaign WSL / John Ferguson

An all-important finals day awaits to decide who walks away with a vital first win of the season to kickoff their year in the right direction with a few up-and-coming talents ready and willing. The No. 1 seeded surfer, and last year's No. 3 Tiare Thompson joins the likes of Makena Burke, Ava McGowan, Caitlin Simmers, and Coral Schuster -- plus a few more talents.

Read more on the heavy-hitting men's Pro Junior who continue to takeover Cocoa Beach.

An 8:00 a.m. EDT start kicks off finals day for these women beginning with Quarterfinal Heat 1.

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