Taylor Clark Earns Maiden QS Victory At Ron Jon Vans Pro In Cocoa Beach
By Space Coast Daily // March 14, 2016
Kei Koboyashi, Alyssa Spencer Win Junior Titles
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – The World Surf League (WSL) Ron Jon Vans Pro and Junior Pro events were completed over the weekend with more incredible surfing in what remained of a fading two-to-three foot southeast windswell.
The sandbars of Shepard Park provided just enough for competitors to showcase their championship form. It was a historical day on all fronts as Taylor Clark (USA) claimed his first Qualifying Series (QS) win and both Kei Kobayashi (USA) and Alyssa Spencer (USA) also earned their first Junior Tour event victories.
When all was said and done, Taylor Clark (USA) emerged the Ron Jon Vans Pro Men’s QS1000 Champion in dramatic fashion. Earning a 5.13 in the final ten seconds, Clark edged out Jake Marshall (USA) for his maiden QS victory and capped off an amazing opening campaign toward the 2016 season.
“This was the main reason I came here was to make a Final and then try to win it so I’m beyond stoked to do that,” Clark said.
“I was so excited that last wave came through and gave me a chance, I would’ve been happy for Jake if he’d won but I just don’t know how that worked out. It’s pretty good points if you take it all the way to the last heat and since I’m not in the bigger events this year that helped so much.”
“To have a Final against Jake was so great, he’s one of my best friends and we surf together all the time so I couldn’t be happier right now,” said Clark
Clark did not have an easy road to the Final, having to face an in-form Josh Burke (BRB) in the Semifinals and Brazilian threat Gabriel Andre (BRA) early on in the Quarterfinals. But, he continued to find himself in the right spots as the swell began deteriorating and was able to claim a massive victory.
“I was really just trying to take it heat by heat through the day and not get ahead of myself which is something I tend to do,” Clark said.
“You just have to worry about the waves that are in front of you and not think about the tide or what’s going to happen in later heats. Now that I have that win I’m going to get on the grind and compete in Martinique and also Japan so I’m really excited to get this year started.”
A mere ten seconds away from victory, Jake Marshall (USA) was relegated to runner-up but was elated with his surfing in this event.
Helping chair-up Clark to the winner’s area, Marshall showed his excitement in and out of the water with an incredible campaign at Cocoa Beach, Fla. – also competing in his first QS Final.
“I’m so excited to get a result here and of course it’s a bummer to go down in the Final but regardless, it’s my best result in a QS and that feels amazing,” Marshall said.
“There were a lot of really good guys here and I’ve just been working so hard over the last six months to keep up – it’s great to see it pay off. By the end of this event heading into the Final I was feeling really confident after dropping some good scores and knew I just needed to be on the best waves.”
“Taylor just got that last little wave in the very end and milked it all the way in so that was incredible to see one of my good friends do so well under that kind of pressure and just congrats to him,” Marshall added.
Kei Kobayashi (USA) earned his first Junior Tour event win at the Ron Jon Vans Junior Pro posting a near-perfect 9.83 and 8.00 to put the entire field in a combination situation.
Taking down an in-form Chauncey Robinson (USA), along with event standouts John Mel (USA) and Che Allan (BRB), Kobayashi blasted the event’s highest single-wave score of 9.83 and heat total of 17.83 after already earning multiple 8.50s.
The 17-year-old was all smiles coming out of the water and has a big year ahead of him.
“This is my first Junior Final I’ve ever made so I’m beyond stoked – I can’t believe it happened,” Kobayashi said.
“One of my goals this year was just to make a Final, the level of competition is incredible and all week I just wanted to keep bettering myself. I was definitely just focused on my surfing in that last heat, everyone was surfing so well and it comes down to who gets the best waves. This year I want to do my best and make some more Finals – this summer will be super important.”
Carrying her impressive form from the opening rounds yesterday, Alyssa Spencer (USA) charged through each round to make her first Final – claiming her inaugural Junior Tour event win.
The 12-year-old Carlsbad, Calif., native showed maturity beyond her years with smart, strong surfing that proved too much for her fellow competitors as she overcame Leilani McGonagle (CRI), Malia Osterkamp (USA), and Maddie Peterson (USA) in the Final.
“It feels really great – it’s my first Junior ever and to win it just makes it that much more amazing,” Spencer said.
“I just had to tell myself that there were good waves out there and there’s always a 10 so I just kept that in the back of my mind the whole time. Something that was in the back of my head was just how bad I wanted to win the whole event so I just made the best out of every heat. A big goal of mine this year is to make it to the World Championships so this is a huge step toward that.”
Ron Jon Vans Pro Men’s QS1000 Final Results:
1 – Taylor Clark (USA) 10.80, $2,500USD
2 – Jake Marshall (USA) 10.63, $1,500USD
Ron Jon Vans Men’s Junior Pro Final Results:
1- Kei Kobayashi (USA) 17.83 $2,500USD
2- Chauncey Robinson (USA) 10.44 $1,500USD
3- John Mel (USA) 9.70, $1,100USD
4- Che Allan (BRB) 9.53, $900USD
Ron Jon Vans Women’s Junior Pro Final Results:
1- Alyssa Spencer (USA) 12.64, $2,000USD
2- Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 10.83, $900USD
3- Malia Osterkamp (USA) 9.60, $600USD
4- Maddie Peterson (USA) 7.13, $500USD
Ron Jon Vans Pro Men’s QS1000 Semifinal Results:
H1: Jake Marshall (USA) 15.07 def. Brian Toth (PRI) 14.17
H2: Taylor Clark (USA) 14.67 def. Josh Burke (BRB) 13.06
Ron Jon Vans Men’s Junior Pro Semifinal Results:
H1: Kei Kobayashi (USA) 14.83, Che Allan (BRB) 12.64, Micky Clarke (USA) 10.77, Cole Houshmand (USA) 8.93
H2: John Mel (USA) 15.50, Chauncey Robinson (USA) 12.77, Nick Marshall (USA) 11.43, Stevie Pittman (USA) 9.25
Ron Jon Vans Women’s Junior Pro Semifinal Results:
H1: Alyssa Spencer (USA) 12.87, Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 9.17, Meah Collins (USA) 9.10, Bethany Zelasko (USA) 5.33
H2: Malia Osterkamp (USA) 12.43, Maddie Peterson (USA) 10.70, Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 9.47, Rachel Presti (USA) 5.54
Ron Jon Vans Pro Men’s QS1000 Quarterfinal Results:
H1: Brian Toth (PRI) 13.27 def. Cory Arrambide (USA) 11.77
H2: Jake Marshall (USA) 14.04 def. Cam Richards (USA) 11.56
H3: Taylor Clark (USA) 13.50 def. Gabriel Andre (BRA) 8.67
H4: Josh Burke (BRB) 12.93 def. Dylan Southworth (MEX) 12.43