The Vans US Open of Surfing, Stop No. 6 of 10 on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT), saw the world’s best female surfers take center stage on the southside of the Huntington Beach pier in two-to-five foot (0.5 – 1 meter) waves. The day also saw intense heats in the Men’s QS10,000 event as all competitors battled to avoid an early elimination in Round 1 and the first five heats of Round 2.
Sage Erickson (USA) took down Jeep Rankings Leader Courtney Conlogue (USA)and Trials winner Meah Collins (USA) in Round 1 Heat 3. The all-Californian match-up saw all three competitors go wave for wave, but Erickson’s excellent 15.06 combined wave total secured her win over Conlogue’s 13.40. Collins tried to combat the CT veterans but just fell short. Collins will surf again in Round 2 alongside Conlogue for an opportunity to stay in the event.
“It is tough to compete against Courtney (Conlogue) because not only is she wearing that yellow jersey, but we’re here at her local spot in Huntington,” said Erickson. “I’ve been competing against Courtney for so long and we’ve had so many battles for years now. I just wanted to focus on myself in that heat. I am super happy to get two scores in that heat and to move on.”
Returned-to-form Lakey Peterson (USA) charged through her first heat of the 2016 Championship Tour season, taking down top-seed and three-time WSL ChampionCarissa Moore (HAW) and Laura Enever (AUS). Peterson locked in a commanding 7.83 and found a solid 5.57 back-up score for the lead. Moore fought back with a 12.60 combined score, but was not able to close the 0.80 point gap needed to escape Round 2. Enever had one last opportunity in the last two minutes of the heat, but a priority mistake gave Peterson the advantage. Moore and Enever will surf again in elimination Round 2.
“It feels good to be back,” Peterson said. “My ankle and body are feeling great, and I’m stoked to be back at Huntington. Going straight into a heat with Carissa (Moore) was good for me. Whenever I have a heat with Carissa, or someone like Laura (Enever) who’s surfing really well, it just pushes me to do really well. I don’t feel like I have much to lose after missing half the season and just really trying to enjoy the back half. It’s always great to surf against them and to it feels good to get a heat win and know that I haven’t lost it. It was a lot of hard work to get back and I’m really excited for the week ahead.”
Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) garnered the highest heat score of the day, an excellent 15.20, and will advance to Round 3 after defeating six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Alessa Quizon (HAW). Weston-Webb unleashed a series of progressive maneuvers to stack up two solid seven-point rides. Quizon fought hard to take down the fellow Hawaiian by earning the highest single wave score of the day, a masterful 8.07, but it was not enough to take down Weston-Webb. Gilmore and Quizon will battle in elimination Round 2 when competition resumes.
“Huntington is a tricky beachbreak and with that it’s important to stay busy,” said Weston-Webb. “Two of my waves in the beginning weren’t that great but I was still getting my feet in the wax, I haven’t even surfed this board that much and I got sick a few days ago. Just to come back from a hard weekend to get two sevens in a row is a big confidence booster.”
Tyler Wright (AUS), current World No. 2 on the Jeep Rankings, edged through Round 1 Heat 4, barely defeating compatriot Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) by only 0.47 points. Wright locked in an 11.93 heat score fending off Van Dijk, who was not able to find a strong enough backup to take down Wright. Van Dijk and 2016 WSL Rookie Chelsea Tuach (BRB) will do battle in elimination Round 2 to stay in the event.
“I definitely had to make that opportunity happen for myself,” said Wright. “The ball was back in my court and just knew I had to make it count. Nikki (Van Dijk) got that last wave in and there was nothing I could do about it. Just made the most of what I had and kind of making those opportunities happen. Huntington is pretty simple. You just have to get yourself in the right spots for those opportunities when they come through and make the most of them.”
Coco Ho (HAW) flew through Round 1 Heat 2 and will advance straight into Round 3. Riding the momentum from her win at the Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro QS event in Oceanside, Ho charged through her heat to defeat defending event Champion Johanne Defay (FRA) and Bianca Buitendag (ZAF).
“I feel like the win yesterday didn’t even set in so if I didn’t make that heat it would’ve been a buzz kill,” said Ho. “It feels really good to get that win in Oceanside and I feel like I can ride it out a little longer. I was a little stressed that I haven’t surfed Huntington at all but everyone was reassuring me that Oceanside was the best practice I could’ve had. I’m stoked, I’ve got the same board, same everything and try to keep the ball rolling.”
Adding to all the exciting action on offer from the world’s best female competitors, the Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS10,000 event got underway in great fashion. Top seeds began making their debut after Round 1 and the first five heats of Round 2.
The highly anticipated debut of wildcard selection Ethan Ewing (AUS) proved worthwhile as the 17-year-old Australian posted two heat wins with incredible performances. Earning one of the highest single-wave scores of the day with an 8.50 behind Pat Gudauskas’ (USA) 8.73, Ewing showcased his stylish power surfing early on and continued that momentum into the next round — taking down Men’s CT competitor Julian Wilson (AUS) in the process. Though admitting he’s not ready for the Championship Tour, Ewing’s surfing at Huntington Beach is on point.
“I’ve had a couple good results in my last few heats so I’m feeling confident and just trying to stay calm,” Ewing said. “I have no idea what the formula is to making these type of four-man heats, I’m just feeling really comfortable out there. Coming up against some of these guys I’m just excited to surf my heats. It’ll be good to get a day offtomorrow and hopefully keep it going in the Junior event as well and keep the momentum alive.”
Thiago Camarao (BRA) emerged a standout in his debut with a massive 8.33 on a single, tail-high air reverse to end his heat. Finding his rhythm with the ocean, the Brazilian used his rail game for a 7.43 to earn the highest heat total of the day with a 15.76.
“I watched the heat before and saw a lot of rights coming through that Victor Bernardo was getting big airs for his scores, so my gameplan was to stay pretty close to the pier and do the same thing,” Camarao said. “I was looking for the waves that had more of a wedge to get more turns in or just find those bigger closeouts that let me take to the air. That big air felt great. I had priority and no pressure being in first so I just gave everything into that wave.”
Capping off an a blistering day of high-performance surfing, local favorite Kolohe Andino (USA) followed up Camarao’s impressive performance with an 8.33 of his own. The San Clemente, California native soared out of a closeout section and stomped it cleanly despite the texture on the wave below his feet. This is the first QS event Andino has performed in as he sits No. 15 on the CT halfway through the season and wants to find a good result here in Huntington Beach.
“I always love competing here and surfed so much of my career at this pier coming down the road from San Clemente and I always tell people I never forget what got me to where I am,” Andino said. “It’s always contestable and makes for a good show. It offers up a lot of airs and backhand snaps along with the pier crowd yelling, so it’s fun here. That was a scrappy heat and it was a big bomb set that I luckily was able to fling it far enough with that downwind coming strong — barely got into and didn’t have much time to think about so I was stoked to come out of it.”]]>