The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Ron Jon Florida Pro presented by Sunshine State Florida Lager Women’s QS6,000 and Florida Pro Men’s QS1,500 crowned Floridian natives Caroline Marks (USA) and Evan Geiselman (USA) their respective winners Tuesday afternoon. Clean, one-to-three foot waves provided opportunities that Marks and Geiselman were able to pick apart for huge wins in front of their hometown crowds at Sebastian Inlet.
Caption: Caroline Marks (USA) keeps adding notches to her already stellar, young career.
Credit: WSL/ Ferguson
Marks’ astonishing career keeps blossoming as she claimed her first-ever QS victory at a break she grew up surfing nearly every day. The 15-year-old finished 2018 as the youngest surfer to qualify for the Championship Tour (CT) and now starts 2017 with a huge statement. It was an emotional win for Marks with her entire family and close friends on hand to witness her maiden QS win.
“This is definitely the best day of my life and to just have everyone down here was incredible,” Marks said. “It puts a tear in my eye just thinking about that horn going off and my whole family here to celebrate with me. You come into the event with the idea that you can win one at home, but there’s so much that needs to go into it and everything needs to go your way. I feel like I earned it and I’ve worked so hard for this — I’m just over the moon.”
The Floridian-turned-California transplant looked unstoppable after her Quarterfinal comeback win over an in-form India Robinson (AUS). Marks then went on to take down three-year CT competitor Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) in the Semifinals before facing fellow Top 17 surfer Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in a grindy Final.
“To start like this is something I dreamed of,” Marks said. “It was a goal of mine to win a QS6,000 and I want to win the QS rankings this year. Going into the CT, I’m just expecting to learn this year. I know it’s going to be a huge learning curve, but I’m going to enjoy it. Now I’ll enjoy this win with my family and friends before trying to carry this momentum into Australia.”
Macaualy is off and running with a keeper, runner-up result here at Sebastian Inlet and will head back to Australia to prepare for the QS6,000 events before taking to the CT season. The Gracetown, Australia, native overcame a hard-fought road of her own with Silvana Lima (BRA) in the Semis and countrymen Macy Callaghan (AUS) in the Quarterfinals.
“I wanted a third or better, and it was definitely worth coming to this one,” Macaulay said. “The crew here made the best of conditions and the calls were spot on all week I think so I’m really thankful for that. Of course there’s that desire to win the Final, but if you can get a few keepers right away it relieves that stress of the year. My goal is to finish in the Top 10 of the CT this year, but if I can keep this up on the QS I’ll be really happy to put a full year together.”
Caption: Another East Coast QS event title goes into Geiselman’s resume.
Credit: WSL/ Nichols
But, before Marks earned her first-ever QS chair-up the beach, Geiselman went to work toward his third East Coast QS win in the Florida Pro QS1,500.
It was an absolute battle between two event heavy-hitters Geiselmen and Jake Marshall (USA) that ended with Geiselman taking his first-ever QS victory. Marshall’s quick start got him off to a 15.33, earning an excellent 8.50 on his first wave, heat total that had the Floridian in a combination situation, meaning he needed two new scores to match Marshall’s total. But, Geiselman fought back wave-by-wave and earned a 7.67 and excellent 8.87 on his last two waves to steal the victory from Marshall.
“I got really fortunate in those last two heats and it feels really good to get the win — that was the goal coming here and always is at every event I enter,” Geiselman said. “In hindsight, C.J. [Hobgood] was saying it was a blessing to lose priority because if I didn’t, I may not have gotten that 7.67 which got me back in the heat. That’s what’s crazy about priority and luckily it went my way with Jake [Marshall] surfing as well as he did, that was a pleasure surfing with him. It’s also pretty funny, just joking with Caroline [Marks] all week saying lets get to these Finals so that was really cool to see.”
The 24-year-old, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, competitor also took down Josh Burke (BRB) in a critical Semifinal heat. Geiselman’s revived competition mindset paid off and he now starts 2018 with 1,500 points moving forward.
“That was my goal to keep the heat totals up so to come out in the first event of the year and complete that goal is great,” Geiselman said. “It’s something I’m setting in my focus this year at the top of my priorities. I’m really looking forward to getting over to Australia now and just keep this momentum up as much as I can.”
Marshall’s amazing run at the Florida Pro ended with a runner-up result, matching his best finish on the QS level, and will now prepare for the Australian leg ahead. But, this also marks the Encinitas, California, surfer’s first event back to competition in over three months and can take confidence with him moving into a big 2018 at the age of 19.
“I’m super psyched to make that Final and really wanted to win it, but to have it against a guy like Evan [Geiselman] who’s always in the qualifying conversation is great,” Marshall said. “It’s reassuring to know I can hold my own against them and what I want to get more of this year. I’ve worked so hard the last few months and trying to get bigger knowing the guys I’ll be competing against are grown men. This just gives me more motivation and it’s a bit of a letdown for myself, but I’ll just learn from this and come back stronger.”
Please go to www.worldsurfleague.com, or download the free WSL App, for more information on the Ron Jon Florida Pro and Florida Pro presented by Sunshine State Florida Lager.
Ron Jon Florida Pro Women’s QS6,000 Final Results:
1 – Caroline Marks (USA) 12.67
2 – Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 6.20
Florida Pro Men’s QS1,500 Final Results:
1 – Evan Geiselman (USA) 16.54
2 – Jake Marshall (USA) 15.60
Ron Jon Florida Pro Women’s QS6,000 Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 12.10 def. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
SF 2: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 10.14 def. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 9.13
Florida Pro Men’s QS1,500 Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) 16.10 def. Josh Burke (BRB) 16.10
SF 2: Jake Marshall (USA) 10.40 def. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 10.03
Ron Jon Florida Pro Women’s QS6,000 Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 12.93 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 7.14
QF 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.66 def. India Robinson (AUS) 11.57
QF 3: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.76 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 10.67
QF 4: Macy Callaghan (AUS) 13.83 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 9.77