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. Round Two of the Ron Jon Florida Pro pres by Sunshine State Florida Lager got underway and some familiar faces began showcasing what they're capable of.
Summer Macedo is already off to an incredible 2018 with a runner-up at the World Junior Championships and opened up brilliantly here in Sebastian Inlet. The 17-year-old still has another year as a Pro Junior, but will focus on the Qualifying Series (QS) instead. Macedo made a big statement with the event's first excellent score posted, an 8.10 (out of a possible 10), and a stellar heat total of 15.43 (out of a possible 20) after early lead changes with Kirra Pinkerton before, taking over.
"I've never surfed a wave like this before and it's my first time here so it's all a bit different -- and really cold," Macedo said. "But, it's fun traveling with my mom and Macy [Callaghan] so we've been training together which helps. It's kind of intense after doing an event like World Juniors then having to go straight into something like this, but I feel recharged and just happy which helps with the overall attitude."
Fifteen-year-old Sophia Fulton is from New South Wales, Australia, and had the World Junior Championships in her own backyard before kicking off her QS campaign across the world. Fulton's ambitions are set high at a young age. She has already earned success on the QS with a win in South Africa last year -- along with two Pro Junior wins to go along with it. The Aussie was able to come away with a debut Round Two heat win on unfamiliar equipment because her boards hadn't arrived yet
"I had a good first heat at World Juniors, but then didn't back it up so I'm excited to get the first QS going here right away," Fulton said. "My goal here is to just go at it one heat at a time and try to come away with some points since it's a bigger event. Everyone wants to qualify, that's always the main goal, but this year I just want do well and find myself in a good place at the end of the year to build some confidence."
Not to be outdone, Felicity Palmateer came out in dominating form to begin her 2018 season. Palmateer spent some time on the elite Championship Tour (CT) several years ago when her friend, Chelsea Hedges, became pregnant and Palmateer took her spot for the remainder of that season. But, the Australian is back to prove she truly belongs there and is off to a great start in Florida.
"It's great to see these opportunities come up and to have it a place like Sebastian Inlet where it's beautiful is even better," Palmateer said. "I've had that bittersweet taste of the CT where you're on, but you're not really on, and I'm definitely fighting to get back there. I made my goals of making the seeded round in these QS6,000s happen so I'm giving it my all."
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.