The 2018 Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch got back underway with an exciting, inaugural Women’s Duct Invitational event and heavyweight Round 3 Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) matchups before the first two heats of Round 4 were contested. Big names stumbled on the men’s front as QS newcomers continue making a name for themselves on one of surfing’s biggest stages, but the day began with a more light-hearted approach before tense heats ensued.
Some of the world’s best women longboarders displayed their elegance and style as they decided their Finalists with a few surprising upsets. Most notably, 2016 WSL Longboard Champion Tory Gilkerson (USA) was eliminated in a wave-for-wave battle to start Semifinal action. Kaitlin Maguire (USA) got the best of Gilkerson in a great Quarterfinal start, and stole an advancing position from her once more in the heated Semifinal.
It was Hawaiian competitor Kelis Kaleoppa (HAW) who earned both a big Quarterfinal and Semifinal victory, showcasing her grace through long noserides to the inside and finishing off each wave. Now, the Oahu, Hawaii, native looks poised for the first-ever Women’s Duct Tape Invitational Final.
“That was so fun and this is an honor to be a part of the first ever event for the women,” Kaleoppa said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is my first time here and I just surfed for the first time out here this morning so I don’t know what good Huntington is, but that was fun. I didn’t know this event was as big as I thought it was and it’s crazy. It’s good though because there’s been a lot of heavy contest at home and to have all these girls here is incredible so I can’t wait to surf again. If I win that’d be great, but we’re all here to have a god time.”
Fellow Oahu competitor, and reigning WSL Longboard Champion Honolua Blomfield (HAW) displayed why she holds that title with brilliant form throughout the morning. Blomfield, 19, looked calm and prepared for the day’s event, winning both her Quarterfinal and Semifinal heats. But, looks could be deceiving as the young surfer was amid some of her idols and did her best to stay focused on the task at hand.
“It’s such a big deal to be a part of this, it’s the best loggers in the world and women I’ve looked up to since I started surfing so I’m really happy to make the Final,” Blomfield said. “I’ve never done one of these kind of contests, and it’s the first one to be held here like this, which is really exciting. I was actually really nervous out there, because I’ve idolized them and to have them in a heat is really intimidating. Plus, just being a Duct Tape event, having Joel Tudor here, and all these women here — to be invited to the biggest one is just awesome.”
Action shifted from surfing’s longboard roots into the present-day, innovative shortboarding from some of the world’s best male competitors in attendance as Round 3 and Round 4, Heats 1 and 2, were contested. A Brasilian sweep accounted for Round 3 Heat 1 as Yago Dora (BRA) and 2015 WSL Champion Adriano De Souza (BRA) eliminated current CT competitor Keanu Asing (HAW) and San Clemente, California, upstart Kei Kobayashi (USA).
The Brasilian prescence was felt further as former CT competitor Miguel Pupo (BRA) ripped his way into Round 4, but it was 2015 US Open runner-up Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) who stole the show in Round 3 Heat 7. The Hawaii competitor earned an excellent 8.07 (out of a possible 10) and 6.43 backup to overtake current World No. 4 Italo Ferreira (BRA) in great fashion. Hendrickson continues to find his way into the Top 100 each year, though hasn’t found the final push on his own soil in Oahu.
“I feel really comfortable out here and having two CT guys in my heat I knew I just had to focus on my surfing which worked out great,” Hendrickson said. “Getting that 8-pointer felt so good and there’s a lot of motivation to do well here, mainly because I just love surfing and I’d love to do it as a job again. I don’t get paid to surf right now so I’d love to get back to that stage where I am getting paid to surf again and a result here would be huge. My goal is to qualify and to get a Final here, do one better than before, would be a huge step toward that dream.”
Fellow Hawaii competitor Seth Moniz (HAW) found himself in a hefty Round 3 bout with current CT surfer Patrick Gudauskas (USA), former CT competitor Jack Freestone (AUS) and QS threat Maxime Huscenot (FRA). The 20-year-old unleashed his backhand for a 7.50 and control of the heat, holding on for a clutch victory. Moniz already has a runner-up at the QS 6,000-level and Semifinal finish at the Ballito Pro QS 10,000, sitting at No. 2 on the QS, and is searching for one last major result to secure his place among the Top 34 next season.
“It’s a little bit of added pressure, but also a lot of confidence to finally be in that Top 10 seeding heading toward the backhalf of the year,” Moniz said. “The QS can be tough so I’m just trying to learn all I can. I take it slow, it’s a journey to get to the Quarters for a keeper result and it’s really fun for how small it is which makes it a bit easier. Looking at past performances to get me into the zone guys like Andy (Irons) and Brett (Simpson), but recently I really like watching Kanoa (Igarashi) and how he approaches it — he’s always finding those good ones and ripping them so I just try to do the same.”
One of the QS top threats in recent years, Evan Geiselman (USA), continued his charge through this event with a big Round 3 — earning an excellent 8.27 to solidify his spot into Round 4. The New Smyrna Beach, Florida, native’s experience in small waves has been a key differentiator in this year’s proceedings and he is looking to better his equal 17th finish from last year. Geiselman, 24, currently sits at No. 8 on the QS rankings and could make the final push toward a long-awaited CT qualification with a result here.
“I feel comfortable out here even though it’s a little scary since California doesn’t really get windswell so there were long waits out there where anything can change on the spot,” Geiselman said. “These prime events are big this year, only having a handful of them, and year’s past I’ve had results, but I haven’t really seized opportunities. I almost get ahead of myself, so now it’s just a matter of taking each heat for what it is and leaving everything out there in the water.”
Also making their way into Round 4 with big wins, and awaiting Round 5 matchups, were current QS No. 1 Peterson Crisanto (BRA), QS threats Cooper Chapman (AUS) and Dion Atkinson (AUS), former CT competitor and Miguel Pupo (BRA) and current CT sophomore Ezekiel Lau (HAW).
Competition didn’t end there and US Open trials winner Reef Heazlewood (AUS) took a major win over CT rookies Griffin Colapinto (USA), also advancing, and Yago Dora (BRA) in Round 4 Heat 1. The 18-year-old QS newcomer is making one of the event’s best trials runs in recent years — surfing seven heats already including the trials — and isn’t looking to stop in Round 5.
“It’s been a long week after the trials, which is a contest in itself, so I had to reset and refocus for this,” Heazlewood said. “I’ve just been wanting to make one more heat, then one more heat, and it’s all been happening so far. Surfing against Griffin (Colapinto) and Yago (Dora), they’re so explosive and to beat them I knew I had to do that. They’re big names and I’m still coming up so to take them down is huge for me, and hopefully I can keep adding a few more names to the list here.”
Adriano De Souz (BRA) completed the marathon day of competition with another heat win in his campaign as he looks to make his second career US Open Final.
The Vans US Open of Surfing will continue tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. PST. The WSL Commissioner’s Office will reconvene at 7:00 a.m. to determine the day’s surf schedule.
Vans US Open Women’s Duct Tape Invitational Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Kaitlin Maguire (USA) 13.73, Tory Gilkerson (USA) 11.83, Mele Saili (USA) 10.64, Hallie Rohr (USA) 4.83
QF 2: Kelis Kaleoppa (HAW) 10.60, Sierra Lerback (USA) 7.80, Karina Rozunko (USA) 6.96, Ivy Thomas (AUS) 3.77
QF 3: Makala Smith (USA) 8.70, Jennifer Smith (USA) 7.94, Ashley Lloyd (USA) 6.97, Mia Larson (USA) 5.40
QF 4: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 12.90, Kassia Meador (USA) 11.17, Summer Richley (USA) 6.04, Erin Ashley (USA) 4.46
Vans US Open Women’s Duct Tape Invitational Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Kelis Kaleoppa (HAW) 12.00, Kaitlin Maguire (USA) 9.83, Tory Gilkerson (USA) 9.44, Sierra Lerback (USA) 7.67
SF 2: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 11.60, Jennifer Smith (USA) 6.16, Kassia Meador (USA) 4.53, Makala Smith (USA) 4/23
Upcoming Vans US Open Women’s Duct Tape Invitational Final Matchup:
F: Kelis Kaleoppa (HAW), Kaitlin Maguire (USA), Honolua Blomfield (HAW), Jennifer Smith (USA)
Vans US Open Men’s QS Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Yago Dora (BRA) 12.04, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 11.60, Keanu Asing (HAW) 8.50, Kei Kobayashi (USA) 8.23
Heat 2: Ramzi Boukhaim (MOR) 13.67, Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 10.24, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 8.53, Heitor Alves (BRA) 6.67
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.33, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.83, Lucca Mesinas (PER) 9.90, David Van Zyl (ZAF) 8.70
Heat 4: Dion Atkinson (USA) 13.43, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.50, Joshua Moniz (HAW) 11.20, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 9.57
Heat 5: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.30, Cam Richards (USA) 11.00, Deivid Silva (BRA) 10.10, Thiago Camarao (BRA) 9.46
Heat 6: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.17, Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 12.37, Bino Lopes (BRA) 10.43, Victor Bernardo (BRA) 9.43
Heat 7: Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 14.50, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.56, Joan Duru (FRA) 12.50, Charly Martin (FRA) 5.43
Heat 8: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 14.40, Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.13, Mihimana Braye (PYF) 11.46, Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 5.46
Heat 9: Cooper Chapman (AUS) 11.60, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 11.17, Matt Banting (AUS) 11.07, Ethan Ewing (AUS) 10.73
Heat 10: Seth Moniz (HAW) 13.00, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 12.57, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 9.60, Jack Freestone (AUS) 6.80
Heat 11: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.37, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.90, Davey Cathels (AUS) 11.67, Benji Brand (HAW) 9.93
Heat 12: Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.37, Michael February (ZAF) 11.77, Ian Crane (USA) 9.90, Nat Young (USA) 8.47
Vans US Open Men’s QS Round 4 (H1-2) Results:
Heat 1: Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 13.90, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 11.10, Yago Dora (BRA) 5.67
Heat 2: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 13.47, Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.37, Ramzi Boukhaim (MOR) 7.83
Upcoming Vans US Open Men’s QS Round 4 Matchups:
Heat 3: Dion Atkinson (AUS), Jorgann Couzinet (FRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW),
Heat 4: Miguel Pupo (BRA), Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Cam Richards (USA),
Heat 5: Tanner Hendrickson (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 6: Peterson Crisanto (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Cooper Chapman (AUS)
Heat 7: Seth Moniz (HAW), Michael February (ZAF), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 8: Evan Geiselman (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
Recognized as the largest professional sports competition and action sports festival in the world, the Vans US Open of Surfing is currently sanctioned and operated by the World Surf League under license from IMG, the event owner. Official partners of this year’s event include Vans, Swatch, Jeep, Airbnb, Michelob ULTRA, Hydro Flask, LifeProof, Jose Cuervo, Barefoot Wine, Woolmark, BF Goodrich, Harley-Davidson, Peet’s Coffee, Red Bull, U.S. Army, Slowtide, CLIF Bar, U.S. Marine Corps, Let it Block Sunscreen, Tea of a Kind, Flowater, and Frontier Communications.