Slater, Fanning, Gudauskas, Curran, and Wilson move on to Round 5. Andy Irons, Yadin Nicol, and Stephanie Gilmore bow out of competition.
Courtney Conlogue. Photo: jackenglish.com
By Casey Koteen
We’ve got surf!! If you were anywhere in Southern California today, you know the much anticipated south swell hit hard this morning. Reports poured in from south swell magnets like the Wedge, Newport, and Lowers with talk of double-overhead-plus bombs. And yes, it was pumping at Huntington Beach, too.
Hurley picked a hell of a year to pick up the U.S. Open, with the biggest swell of the summer lighting up the HB pier. This morning saw the biggest surf at the U.S. Open since 1997 when Category Five hurricane Guillermo positively wreaked havoc on the west coast. How big was it? Big enough to spray people standing on the pier. And to send a handful of competitors scrambling back to the beach with half their boards. Big enough for Kelly Slater to claim it as the biggest he’s ever seen it here for a contest. Big enough so that they put PWC-assists into action. And tragically, big enough to cost a bodysurfer at the Wedge his life earlier in the day.
Now, this is California, so we’re not talking long, perfect J-Bay walls, but the swell is reasonable peaky considering the size, making for some vicious end-section hits for those that wanted them.
No surprise, Slater won the award for most ridiculous end hit. Actually, it wasn’t even a hit, but a blistering, mach two carving 360 on the lip of a solid six-foot right. After popping out of the whitewash, he looked to the crowd and threw up an energized fist pump. Now, there’s been a glut of claiming on tour this year, but this one was completely warranted. The judges agreed, throwing down a 9.87, putting his heat total at 18.8, the highest of the round, and contest (until Courtney Conlogue one upped it later in the day in her quarter. See the women’s story below for the story on that crazy heat). This, after snapping his board early in the heat, and having a rough time getting to the beach to get his back up board. “It didn’t take me long to get my board,” he said. “It took me a long time to get to the beach. I swam for at least five minutes, I was dragging half a board – I didn’t want to lose the fins and the leash off it.”
Slater’s board choice was not nearly as interesting as earlier in the event. He went back to a more standard shortboard, a rounded pintail thruster – a trusty workhorse. Probably not a bad call considering 100 grand is on the line.
So far Slater is looking dominant. He would’ve won the heat even if you erased his top two highest-scoring waves. In fact he would’ve won nearly every heat in the round on his backup scores.
Slater stole the show, yes, but there were some other very worthy highlights. First off, Nathaniel Curran got the best barrel seen at the U.S. Open in a long, long time – probably ever. It was an early morning drainer, and the defending event champ made clear he’s keen to return to the dais, pig-dogging his way through a long section, shooting out the end and delivering a precise lip hit for the first, and only perfect ten of the event. Needless to say, he advanced.
The eldest and last remaining Gudauskas brother, Pat, also added a nice clip to his highlight reel in heat 4. Good timing too, considering it was the most stacked heat of the round, with C.J. Hobgood and Andy Irons.
Solid sets had been coming in all morning, but all of a sudden massive, long period lines stood up a good half mile out. While the crowd rose to attention and ooohhed in amazement, Pat G was busy focusing on paddling into one of the beasts and deciding what the hell to do with it.
It looked like a big wall, with just a hint of a seam before the end section. He dropped in left, and screamed off the bottom, the lip already beginning to pitch. He hit it hard, at full speed, hoping to be quick enough to beat it to the bottom, but as he freefell the lip landed first and spiked up hard underneath him. He fell backwards, engulfed in a giant mound of whitewash. But then a little red speck flashed, then a split second later another. The whitewash bounced, and somehow Pat and his red jersey emerged out of it, to the roar of the crowd. 9.17 was the score, which saw Pat through the heat.
Slater may have had the maneuver of the round, but Pat might just steal some headlines in his next heats. You may remember back in June he landed a rodeo in a WQS in the Maldives – the first one ever landed in competition – and it was definitely in his back pocket today. “I was thinking about it in that heat, actually,” he said. “It’s on my mind for sure, I really want to do one. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance.”
Others big names that advanced included Brett Simpson, Eric Geiselman, C.J. Hobgood, Adriano de Souza, Rob Machado, Julian Wilson. And oh yes, Mick Fanning, who is looking very sharp. He’ll be up against Julian Wilson in the last heat of Round 5 tomorrow, sure to be a mind-boggler.
Round 5 starts at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, and with the swell looking like it’s holding strong and the weekend kicking into full throttle, it will be a banger.
Video: Tom Aiello/Aaron Lieber/hurley.com
17 And Under: You Must Be This Young To Be In The Women’s US Open Final
By Ryan Brower
The fresh breed of female surfers that are the future of women’s surfing further proved themselves as also being the best right now. The Women’s semifinalists were determined today (Malia Manuel, Laura Enever, Courtney Conlogue, and Carissa Moore), and only one of them can get into a rated R movie without parental supervision (Laura Enever, who just barely makes it into those at 17). And it was no easy feat for them – the swell filled in this morning showing ten-foot+ faces at it’s peak height. “It was huge out there,” defending US Open champ Malia Manuel stated. “There were 20 wave sets closing out on top of us, it was nothing I expected Huntington to be this year.”
Just ask Carissa Moore about the size today. In her Round of 12 heat she lost her board amidst the biggest set of the day that blasted white water through the bottom of the pier. The set then proceeded to unhook one of the huge inflatable competition buoys, sending it through the pier and into the blackball zone full of swimmers to the north. While HB was doing it’s best Pipeline closeout impression, Carissa was taking those very sets on the head swimming to the lifeguard boat on the outside. “It was a little shocking,” Carissa said. “I wasn’t sure what to do. Swim to the pier? Do I swim in? Do I wave someone?” Carissa ended up making it through the heat though and then took out ASP World Tour competitor Rebecca Woods in the quarterfinals.
A few other World Tour competitors went down today, including two-time defending world champ Stephanie Gilmore. Malia Manuel was the giant killer in that quarterfinals match-up, cementing herself a legitimate shot at a repeat. “Steph’s my idol, and when I saw the draw I was like “I’m surfing against my number one idol?” Malia stated. But Malia stuck to her game plan and showed some veteran-like surfing today.
Another World Tour competitor that fell today was Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons, though through no fault of her own. Sally’s quarterfinal set against Courtney Conlogue was owned by the Californian, as Courtney posted the highest heat total of the entire event this year – in any division – with a 19.63. Courtney’s two 9+ rides were walled up lefts that were running her into the pier. But she set her rail, powered through her bottom turns, and threw a big ol’ backside hook on each, showing impressive skill and commitment in extremely critical situations. “When I got out there with Sally I knew I was going to have to do something spectacular, go big, and set the standards high,” Courtney said.
The semifinals action kicks off tomorrow at 11:20 a.m., and if you want to see the best female surfers in the world make sure you’re in Huntington or on the webcast. Malia Manuel is going up against Laura Enever and Carissa Moore is taking on Courtney Conlogue. No matter what the outcomes of those two semifinals, there will be at least one girl in the Women’s final tomorrow of Hurley’s US Open of Surfing that is 16. The youngsters sure do know how to take over.
Hurley U.S. Open Round of 24: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.00, Alain Riou (PYF) 13.10, Dustin Cuizon (HAW) 10.33
Heat 2: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 16.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.24, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 9.23
Heat 3: Eric Geiselman (USA) 14.60, Daniel Ross (AUS) 12.13, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 11.80
Heat 4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.23, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.84, Andy Irons (HAW) 12.67
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.04, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 9.93, Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.60
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.80, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 13.84, Granger Larsen (HAW) 7.83
Heat 7: Rob Machado (USA) 12.16, Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.93, Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 10.20
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.13, Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.83, Leigh Sedley (AUS) 13.77
Hurley U.S. Open Women’s Quarterfinals Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.23 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 6.17
Heat 2: Laura Enever (AUS) 14.17 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 5.77
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 19.63 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 8.07
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.67 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.46
Hurley U.S. Open Women’s Round of 12 Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.27, Laura Enever (AUS) 8.17, Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 3.17
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 9.73, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 5.87, Sayuri Hashimoto (JPN) 2.70
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.54, Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.64, Sage Erickson (USA) 10.20
Heat 4: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.60, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 8.33, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 7.44
U.S. Open Nike 6.0 Pro Junior Quarterfinals Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Nat Young (USA) 12.20, Tonino Benson (HAW) 11.80, Andrew Doheny (USA) 10.83, Evan Geiselman (USA) 7.67
Heat 2: Matt Pagan (USA) 11.77, Charles Martin (GLP) 10.14, Oliver Kurtz (USA) 7.16, Keanu Asing (HAW) 7.07