On a day that saw American men dominate the Philips U.S. Open of Surfing, local competitors Brett Simpson and Danny Nichols delivered standout performances. Conditions at the $150,000 World Qualifying Series (WQS) event held at the famed Huntington Beach Pier ranged from 4-5 foot glassy sets in the morning to challenging 3-4 foot wind driven waves in the late afternoon.
Local knowledge played a big role for 17 year-old Simpson, who defeated New Zealand’s Jay Quinn 15.79 points to 11.77 points. Simpson, who’ll be a senior at Huntington Beach High School this fall, trains at the pier and was unfazed by the rough going. “I’m used to the conditions, I surf here every day before school and after school,” said Simpson. Well on the way to his best showing in a non-junior competition, Simpson added, “The pressure is on the older guys right now. Some day it will be the other way around.”
Nichols, another product of the esteemed Huntington Beach High surf program coached by Andy Verdone, left no doubt of his intentions by winning two consecutive heats. Nichols looked at ease in throughout the day, knocking off Australian James Catto in the morning, 16.10 to 15.51 points, and again in the afternoon, 15.13 to 11.97 points. Both surfers advanced to Trials Round five on Tuesday.
Former Bud Surf Tour veteran Doug Silva (Encinitas) put in good showing, defeating Hawaiian Macy Mullen in the morning and afternoon. Another San Diego competitor, Ian Rotgans, also won his heat to advance. Overall, the Hawaiian contingent made a good showing today with Nathan Carroll, Kekoa Bacalso, Garrett Bonner, Macy Mullen and Dustin Cuizon advancing.
With its six-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) rating, the Philips U.S. Open men?s division boasts a $100,000 total prize package, $10,000 winners purse, and offers competitors the largest points allocation of any Mainland event this year. The $30,000 Havaianas Women?s Pro, also a six-star WQS, is the Mainland?s highest rated qualifying event. The combined contests play a critical role in the composition of the Association of Surfing Professionals’ (ASP) 2003 World Tour and America’s reemergence as an international powerhouse.
Later in the week featured competitors include reigning world champion C.J. Hobgood (Satellite Beach, Fla.), six-time world champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), four-time world champion Lisa Andersen (Ormond Beach, Fla.), three-time world champion Tom Curren (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and former world champions Sunny Garcia (Hawaii) and Pauline Menczer (AUS).
The Philips U.S. Open launches the bi-coastal Philips Fusion series, a $350,000 action sports, technology and music festival that attracts more than 600 world-class athletes and features surfing, skateboarding and BMX in innovative venues along with an interactive festival area and live concerts. Philips Fusion commences in Huntington Beach, July 29 ? August 4 and continues on the East Coast, August 22-25 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Competition at the Philips U.S. Open of Surfing continues on Tuesday, July 30, 2002 at 7:00a.m. with heats 7-16 of men’s trials round five followed by 1-8 of men’s trials round six. The $10,000 Billabong/Boost Mobile Juniors round 2 (heats 1-8) begins at 1:00 p.m. followed by round 1 (heats 1-2) of the $30, Havaianas Women’s Pro.