Remaining Florida Pro pres by Sunshine State Florida Lager QS1,500 Round Two heats saved the best action for last in Saturday's affairs as top seeds delivered great performances after women's Round Three wrapped up. New standards were set for the tricky conditions on offer with near-perfection and excellent surfing from a few competitors.
Gabriel Farias began his Florida Pro campaign with a soaring full rotation that earned him a near-perfect 9.50, the event's highest single-scoring wave of the event -- and heat total of 16.83. Farias spent time with fellow Brazilian, 2014 World Champion Gabriel Medina, before Medina headed for Hawaii and Farias has the focus to make a statement in 2018. The young Brazilian already has one East Coast title in his resume after winning the WRV Outer Banks Pro QS1,500 and can add another here at Sebastian Inlet.
"I've watched Chauncey [Robinson] surf a bunch here and I got that seven over where he's been surfing," Farias said. "Then just found that perfect little right at the end over where the other competitors were and when I landed I nearly thought I was going to fall, but I held on so hard. I'm way more relaxed after that heat and not surfing here the last few days so I feel great now. I'm in the QS6,000s this year so I'll go to Australia from here, but I'm ready. It was great to spend time with Gabriel and train with him so I know how hard he works, and it makes me want to work even harder."
Vero Beach, Florida, native Tommy Coleman came out of the gates firing with one of the event's highest single-wave scores of an 8.33. Coleman's spent more than enough time at Sebastian Inlet to understand how fickle it can get, and how to deal with it. The 15-year-old talent is on track to becoming a QS threat with each new season and made another step in that direction today.
"I still can't believe it when I come down and see the scaffolding, the people -- it doesn't feel real," Coleman said. "The waves were really fun when you found them out there. I was nervous before that heat just seeing some constant closeouts, but I was stoked to get those two scores right away. I'm just trying to have a lot of fun and not rush into anything with the QS. Hopefully the waves get a little better with the north wind dying down and the swell turning more east. Even if it's smaller, it'll be more fun."
Jake Marshall faced a series of injuries that plagued his first full-time QS campaign and spent the last three months out of the water until just a week ago. Marhsall represents yet another product of the Southern California talent pool itching for a shot at making his move toward the Top 10.
"I'm just psyched to get a jersey on and came last minute so it's great to get off to a start like that," Marshall said. "There's been a lot of training involved and it's great to feel 100 percent healthy. I've got a lot bigger goals in mind this year. I felt like I was out of rhythm last year and now I'm wanting to get into that Triple Crown, and just surf against the best guys out there. The waves here are pretty similar to Manly and Newcastle so I'm seeing this as a great warm-up for the Australian leg to get things moving."
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. to assess conditions for a possible 8:00 a.m. start for either men's Round Three or women's Round Four.
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.