The 2015 World Surf League (WSL) season kicked off with the opening rounds of the Qualification Series (QS) Shoe City Pro. Young up-and-comers to Championship Tour (CT) surfers alike put on impressive performances looking to kick off the new year with a good result at this QS1000 event.
The standout surfer of the day was San Diego's Jake Marshall (USA) who put on a clinic in Heat 13 of Round 2. The young regular-footer dropped a near-perfect 9.50 on a clean left-hander going into the pier where he blasted three strong backhand turns. Not only did Marshall take home the day's highest single wave score, but he also pocketed the highest heat score with a two-wave total of 16.50 points.
â€œI caught all of my best waves in that heat all in a row, so I was pretty lucky to get in that rhythm before the waves went flat in the back half of the heat,â€ said Marshall. â€œTo win this event or any other QS event would mean a lot to me because I've never done that; I haven't even won a Pro Junior before. I got third here last year so I think this event could be a good opportunity for me to do well.â€
Marshall made the Semifinals in Huntington Beach at last year's Shoe City Pro and definitely won't be one to count out as one of this year's contenders.
Another top performer of the day was CT competitor Kolohe Andino (USA). The San Clemente native went to town in Heat 1 of Round 2 during the morning's high tide conditions, laying down precise backhand cracks and throwing a lofty forehand air-reverse with ease. Andino walked away from the heat with the one of day's highest heat totals of 16.24 points as well as some serious momentum going into tomorrow's competition.
â€œI always love competing here in Huntington, this is where I grew up doing contests so it's always nice coming back here,â€ said Andino. â€œI jumped into this event to keep the rhythm going from last year and to try and get back into competitive shape after the holidays. I think it's great that this new North America series is offering some of young guys a better chance to get a seed into some of the bigger [QS] events. It's also nice just to have events like this close to home where you can compete with some of your hometown friends.â€
Josh Benjoya (USA) also made a solid showing today, winning both his Round 1 and Round 2 heats with smooth, technical surfing. The goofy-footer dropped an impressive 8.17 in Heat 4 of Round 1 on a beautiful left-hander where he put together a string of clean forehand hacks. Benjoya is looking to capitalize on this event and kick off his 2015 QS campaign with a solid result.
â€œMy heat this morning was super slow to start, but then I lucked into that bigger set and that's when I got my eight,â€ Benjova explained. â€œThe waves got a lot better in my heat this afternoon, and I sat further south towards Machado peak. I'm from Salt Creek and that left reminded me a lot of home, so it was nice to get some fun waves and I'm stoked to get through to tomorrow.â€
Ian Gouveia (BRA) was another surfer that looked to be in top form. The Brazilian goofy-footer showed some smooth, powerful surfing and pocketed a solid 14.93 heat total. Gouveia is one of the top seeds of the event and will be one to watch in the coming rounds.
The 2015 World Surf League (WSL) Shoe City Pro will finish January 8th, 2014.