The Vans US Open of Surfing, Stop No. 6 of 10 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), is down to the final four competitors after completing the Quarterfinals in three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) conditions today. The day also ran through the Men’s QS 10,000 with the remaining Round 2 heats and the first eight heats of Round 3, in addition to the Men’s Pro Junior Quarterfinals.
Local favorite Courtney Conlogue (USA) dominated her Quarterfinal heat against Pauline Ado (FRA) to earn the final spot in the Semifinals. Conlogue set the tone from the start of the heat with a solid 7.67 (out of a possible 10) to put early pressure on Ado. Ado fought back with a 5.60 and 4.87, but Conlogue locked in the win with a powerful 6.40. Ado will leave a 5th place finish and her best result of 2017. Conlogue will march on to the Semifinals against Sage Erickson (USA), where she will be one step closer to earning her first CT victory at her homebreak.
“I think any one of these women on Tour are masters of being able to switch on and put that competitive face on,” Conlogue said. “Sage [Erickson] and I are good friends, but when we get in the water, it’s so fun. We just go so far back and it’s always going to be a great competition. I always look forward to heats with her because she brings out the best in me and I’m excited for it. It’d be awesome to take this event on home turf and I just have so much support, which gets me all choked-up and fuels me to do that much better.”
The extremely dramatic Quarterfinal match-up between reigning WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) and Coco Ho (HAW) saw a nail-biting finish to determine the second elimination of the day. Ho opened up with a near-excellent 7.83 by laying into two opening turns before a hefty shorebreak float to finish it off. Wright found a 5.33, but unleashed even bigger turns on her next attempts to capture the lead with a 7.17. Still leading, Wright broke her board with ten minutes left and was forced to exchange it on the shoreline. In the dying minutes of the heat, Ho surpassed the required 4.67 with a critical 5.03 to steal the win from the current World No. 1.
“I just went for it on that last one,” said Ho. “It’s for sure intimidating coming up against girls, like Tyler [Wright], because they can manufacture scores in very average waves, but in the same sense it pushes you and makes you surf harder, which is what I tried to do. I want to find my feet on the Tour and stop doing the QS, but it is such a tight race from 7th to 12th place. Everyone’s really close so I’m stoked there’s a lot of room to move this year. We’re only halfway through the year and I feel better than ever.”
In an intense battle between two former event winners, Johanne Defay (FRA) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) put all on the line to advance to the Semifinals. Weston-Webb got off to a quick start and earned a 6.00 with two snaps on her backhand. With more than fifteen minutes elapsed in the heat, Defay unleashed an incredible ride for a 7.17 to take the lead away from the defending event winner. Weston-Webb quickly fired back with a 6.80, leaving Defay no time to challenge. Defay, current World No. 5, will exit with her second consecutive 5th place result.
“I feel like Johanne [Defay] and I are really strong contenders out here and she’s such a great surfer,” said Weston-Webb. “She’s been on a roll, but I felt like I had some momentum backing me. I just wanted to take what I learned from the judges yesterday and put it in my surfing. I didn’t get that one really good wave I wanted, but I did my job and I’m so stoked. We were really exhausted from yesterday with a long day on the beach and had to take it step-by-step today.”
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), current World No. 2, fell victim to the in-form Sage Erickson (USA), who began her Quarterfinal bout with a series of backhand attacks to post a 6.67. Fitzgibbons responded with back-to-back 4-point rides that had Erickson in need of a minimal score — which she acquired on the dot with a 2.43. But, the Californian found a gem to unleash another searing backhand snap that she was able to bash a closeout maneuver for a 5.03. With time winding down, Fitzgibbons was left waiting out the back with no opportunities and the final horn sounded — sending Erickson to her second CT Semifinal of 2017.
“I feel like I’ve come up against girls like Tyler [Wright] and Courtney [Conlogue] quite a bit this year and I feel like I know their respect level and space” said Erickson. “I don’t compete that much against Sally [Fitzgibbons] besides last year and it was aggressive. I was feeling it. We’re going old-school elbow-to-elbow, which was cool to see from her. She’s always so kind and gracious, so to see her fired up was fun so I knew I had to keep level-headed and not get too much into the aggressive game.”
The Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS 10,000 completed Round 2, and Heats 1 through 8 of Round 3. Massive performances lit up the event, subsequently rattling the QS elite.
Carlos Munoz (CRI) continued to unleash his powerful surfing upon Huntington Beach’s proper sets and bashed an outside section with perfect timing to earn a near-perfect 9.00. The Costa Rican was enveloped by the whitewater crashing all around him and escaped with momentum to hammer one last snap on the inside. Munoz is already a seasoned QS campaigner at age 24, but awaits his shot at becoming a qualification threat — his best finish at No. 24 on the QS rankings in 2014.
“I know every heat out here is hard and when I stood up on that wave I saw that section coming back at me and I just had to go hard right into it,” Munoz said. “That whole heat the waves were kind of hard to read so after I got my backup I just sat on the guys with priority and I’m just so stoked to get that win. I’ve changed a lot of stuff in my life and staying focused on the positives — staying with my family and just training a lot. Surfing is my passion, It’s changed my entire life and it’s provided such an amazing future just not being able to afford this dream without it. It would be amazing to get on the CT. I’m still hunting for it and I’m going to give it my best every year.”
Hometown hero Kanoa Igarashi (USA) continued the winning form of local surfers with a Round 3 win over a stacked heat that included fellow CT competitors Kolohe Andino (USA) and Ethan Ewing (AUS), both of whom were eliminated, and former CT surfer Ricardo Christie (NZL). Igarashi’s local knowledge paid off in a close heat with his wave selection making all the difference as he found proper outside connections that guided him toward the shore for big finishes.
“We don’t always get a lot of big swells in Southern California, but when they do it’s like this and you just want to be on the best waves,” Igarashi said. “It helps knowing which waves to pass up. I get to spend about three-to-four weeks at home between here and the Trestles contest so I don’t get to spend a lot of time here, but it’s great to see my family and friends. I’m doing both the QS and CT right now, and I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve been ticking all the boxes, but I’m wishing to get some better results since I’m not having a great year, but I’m learning so much and just enjoying it all.”
Former CT competitor Davey Cathels (AUS) got to work under the halfway mark of his Round 3 heat after a slow start had him in fourth place. But, the Australian found a pier-bowl left that allowed him to crank two critical snaps before connecting to the inside for a big finish — earning him a near-excellent 7.60 to bolt him into first. Cathels then followed up with another 7.10 toward the end of the heat to solidify a big win over Josh Kerr (AUS), advancing in second, Victor Bernardo (BRA) and Lucas Silveira (BRA).
“Once you get a taste of the good life on Tour it’s pretty hard to come back to the QS,” said Cathles. “I was pretty deflated at the start of the year with a few bad results at home, which was disappointing before getting hurt. I was out for about ten weeks and lost a bunch of competitions in a row so to come here and make a few heats is great. This is only the second QS 10,000 and we’re already halfway through, but I feel like the season has just starting and I’m not counting myself out yet. Getting back on Tour is where I’m at right now and want to be back there within the next few seasons.”
Defending Vans US Open of Surfing winner Filipe Toledo (BRA) blasted his way to another heat win and is back into Round 4 for a chance at repeating here in Huntington Beach alongside former CT competitor Adam Melling (AUS) — who topped current CT surfer Jack Freestone (AUS).
Former Vans US Open of Surfing winners Alejo Muniz (BRA) and Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) will also advance to Round 4 after a big day of competition. They will join CT competitors Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Connor O’ Leary (AUS). The final horn of the day for QS competitors witnessed South African upstart Michael February (ZAF) and Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) continuing on as big threats.
But, action at the Huntington Beach Pier wasn’t done yet as the Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s Pro Junior Quarterfinals were contested and the world got a glimpse of up-and-coming threats making a name for themselves in the southside arena.
Cole Houshmand (USA) came out with a great start and earned a 6.83 by going to town on a lefthand runner that provided multiple opportunities the San Clemente, California native took advantage of. Fellow San Clemente surfer Kade Matson (USA) advanced behind him and eliminated international, rising threat Samuel Pupo (BRA). Both continue on with a chance at earning valuable points toward the Pro Junior rankings to begin the back half of 2017.
“There’s a full crew of us San Clemente boys and I’ve had a lot of friends come down to support, and it’s been really fun to support all friends from home,” Houshmand said. “To see all the Women’s CT and Men’s QS, just all the people I look up to, has been an amazing experience as well. Having both here is a little intimidating and inspiring, seeing all the guys at the QS10,000 level is where I want to be someday so I’m continually working on that goal. I’m feeling really good after losing out in the Quarterfinals last year so it’s nice to redeem myself and move on to the Semis.”
2017 Australia/Oceania Pro Junior Champion Reef Heazlewood (AUS) has taken to the road following a dominating performance throughout his junior series and prepares for the World Junior Championships (WJC) — along with his first full year on the QS next year. Heazlewood got to work early and kept his rhythm throughout the heat despite John Mel (USA) dropping the day’s highest single-score of an 8.67. The Australian looks to take this event out and continue the international dominance once again after Canary Island’s Luis Diaz (CNY) won last year.
“I was having a lot of fun out there and I’m stoked to win that heat,” Heazlewood said. “It’s pretty amazing to be standing here. I’ve got a great a support system here with my girlfriend Summer [Macedo], mom, as well as my team manager, so it’s a good crew and means a lot to have them all here. The Australasia events are done for the year so I’ve moved onto the QS events and it’s been grindy, but I’m enjoying it. It’s such a good experience and looking forward to what happens next year on the QS.”
The Vans US Open will kick of the Women’s Pro Junior heats tomorrow after the Men’s QS completes Round 3 (H9-12) and Round 4 (H1-8).
The Vans US Open of Surfing will be broadcast LIVE from July 31 – August 6 via VansUSOpenofSurfing.com, WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page. Also check local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com and for continued updates and scheduling for the Vans US Open of Surfing visit VansUSOpenofSurfing.com.
Surfline, official forecaster for the Vans US Open of Surfing, are calling for:
Fun run of waves on tap through the back half of the event window. S/SSE swell from the Southern Hemisphere eases Thursday as small NW windswell blends in. A reinforcing blend of S/SSE and SSW swells level size off Friday through the final weekend of the event, as small NW windswell energy lingers. Conditions remain favorable for the mornings, but we’ll see the return of a light to moderate Westerly sea-breeze in the afternoons.
Vans US Open of Surfing Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 12.80 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.90
QF 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 12.86 def. Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.50
QF 3: Sage Erickson (USA) 10.74 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.10
QF 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.07 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 10.47
Vans US Open of Surfing Women’s Semifinal Match-Ups:
SF 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
SF 2: Sage Erickson (USA) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Vans US Open of Surfing Remaining Men’s QS10,000 Round 2 Results (H23-24):
Heat 23: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 12.10, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.43, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 10.00, Billy Kemper (HAW) 6.67
Heat 24: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.37, Joshua Moniz (BRA) 12.33, Brett Simpson (USA) 10.80, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 9.50
Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS10,000 Round 3 Results (H1-8):
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 11.83, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 11.13, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.34, Ethan Ewing (AUS) 10.70
Heat 2: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.50, Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 11.83, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.40, Joan Duru (FRA) 8.67
Heat 3: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 11.50, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.20, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 10.44, Sebastian Zeitz (HAW) 8.64
Heat 4: Davey Cathels (AUS) 14.70, Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.00, Lucas Silveira (BRA) 10.33, Victor Bernado (BRA) 8.40
Heat 5: Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.63, Nat Young (USA) 12.43, Marc Lacomere (FRA) 11.70, Ian Crane (USA) 11.44
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.26, Adam Melling (AUS) 9.87, Jack Freestone (AUS) 7.77, Michael Dunphy (USA) 4.40
Heat 7: Carlos Munoz (CRI) 13.97, Connor O’ Leary (AUS) 13.30, Heitor Alves (BRA) 10.50, Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 9.67
Heat 8: Michael February (ZAF) 13.57, Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) 13.00, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 12.53, Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.00
Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS 10,000 Remaining Round 3 Match-Ups (H9-12):
Heat 9: Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI), Michael February (ZAF), Keanu Asing (HAW), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP)
Heat 10: Maxime Huscenot (FRA), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Tomas Hermes (BRA), Mitch Crews (AUS)
Heat 11: Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Soli Bailey (AUS), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 12: Joshua Moniz (HAW), Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Marco Giorgi (URY), Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s Pro Junior Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Cole Houshmand (USA) 13.30, Kade Matson (USA) 13.26, Te Kehukehu Butler (NZL) 10.10, Samuel Pupo (BRA) 8.67
QF 2: Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 13.50, John Mel (USA) 12.74, Yuji Nishi (JPN) 12.43, Luke Gordon (USA) 12.23
QF 3: Cody Young (HAW) 13.26, Che Allan (BRB) 11.40, Tyler Gunter (USA) 10.40, Ryland Rubens (USA) 9.70
QF 4: Crosby Colapinto (USA) 14.23,Elijah Fox (HAW) 12.87, Eithan Osborne (USA) 11.84, David Economos (USA) 9.63