The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) North America Pro Junior Series season opener saw local Floridian Evan Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, FL), 16, clinch the ASP Grade-3 Ron Jon SI Pro presented by Skullcandy while young Hawaiian talent Malia Manuel (Wailua, HI), 16, won the ASP Grade-2 Skullcandy Junior Pro in one-to-three foot (1 metre) surf at Florida’s iconic break of Sebastian Inlet.
With qualification for the inaugural ASP World Junior Tour (WJT) on the line via this year’s regional series, the early season ratings’ lead picked up by Geiselman and Manuel could prove vital in their chance to battle the globe’s best for the title of ASP World Junior Champion.
Geiselman, who was a runner up at the ASP Grade-2 Billabong Pro Junior at Sebastian Inlet in 2008, proved to be untouchable at this year’s Ron Jon SI Pro event, marching to victory after getting a slow start in the final to best Hawaiian standout Keanu Asing (Ewa Beach, HI), 16, and Californians Gabe Garcia (Carlsbad, CA), 19, and Chase Wilson (Newport Beach, CA), 18.
“The final started off slow for me and I hadn’t caught a wave after the first five minutes,” Geiselman said. “Then I caught two quick waves and had to play the dirty work and sit on second in the last five minutes.”
After several close finishes in ASP Pro Junior events, the Ron Jon SI Pro victory marks the first ASP Pro Junior Series win for the young Floridian, and clinching the event close to home made his inaugural win that much more memorable.
“I’m really stoked and don’t even know what to say,” Geisleman said. “To win this contest so close to home with so many great Pro Junior surfers from up and down the East Coast, California and Hawaii, it means a lot.”
The crucial ASP Grade-3 points earned by Geiselman also establish that talented goofy-footer as the early season ratings leader of the pack of surfers looking towards qualification for this year’s ASP WJT.
“It’s a great start to my year,” Geiselman said. “This is one of the bigger contests of the year since it’s a Grade-3 and it gives me some momentum going into the next event.”
Manuel, who is the reigning women’s ASP North America Pro Junior Series Champion, wasted no time in becoming familiar with Sebastian Inlet during her first trip to Florida and continues to establish herself as a top threat amongst her junior peers while continuing to hold her regional junior series points lead.
“The final really slowed down with the high tide, but I was lucky to find a couple of waves,” Manuel said. “It really came down to who just got the right ones in the final, but I just kept moving around and managed to get a couple of scores.”
Manuel is another talent who is hoping to qualify for the ASP WJT and feels that the Skullcandy Junior Pro victory will help the young Hawaiian pave the path towards competing against the globe’s best juniors in the future.
“It’s a great start to my year and I’m so thankful to have a couple of events to try and qualify for this year’s World Junior Tour,” Manuel said. “I haven’t competed in about a month, so this is a great way to start of the new year.”
The ASP North America Pro Junior Series will continue with the ASP Grade-2 Ezekiel Pro Junior presented by Jack’s Surfboards, which will run from March 24 through 28, 2010.