HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Monday, July 28, 2003 — Former two-time Honda Element U.S. Open of Surfing champion Rob Machado (Cardiff) continued his improbable run towards an unprecedented third title today in Huntington Beach. Machado, who began the event on Sunday surfing in heat one of round one, advanced through another round (three total), notching the highest overall heat score (16.50 points on two scoring waves). Conditions were difficult with small, inconsistent waves throughout the day. Mother Nature also played a cruel trick on competitors as water temps dropped from a high of 72 degrees last week, to 59 degrees today.
The $175,000 Honda Element U.S. Open of Surfing Presented by O’Neill is far and away the largest World Qualifying Series (WQS) event for men and women. Ten former world and/or U.S. Champions headline a 288 person men’s draw that includes 31 of the world’s elite Top 44 and 74 of the top 100 WQS. In addition to Team O’Neill’s Cory Lopez (Florida), the world-class field features reigning world champion Andy Irons (Hawaii), reigning event champion Kalani Robb (Hawaii), C.J. Hobgood (Florida), Tim Curran (Ventura) and Shane Beschen (San Clemente).
While Machado was clearly the class of the field, young Brazilian Adriano de Souza kept pace, ripping off scores of 8.25 and 7.50. De Souza has now won all three of his heats heading into tomorrow’s round of 196. Hawaiian Kolea Fukumitsu also has won three straight heats, starting from the trials while doing double duty in the Lost Junior Pro division. Other competitors advancing out of round three included Ben Dunn (Australia), Patric Gudauskas (San Clemente), Mike Lossness (San Clemente), Brandon Tipton (Huntington Beach), Brad Gerlach (Encinitas), Danny Nichols (Huntington Beach), Richie Collins (Newport Beach) and Dane Reynolds (Ventura).
In the $10,000 Lost Junior Pro, Hawaiians ruled the day as Dustin Cuizon, Kolea Fukumitsu, Kekoa Becalso, Joel Centeio and Sean Moody all advanced to next Sunday’s final. Becalso led the charge, scoring 14.65 points. Also advancing were Mainlanders Dane Johnson, Andrew Gahan and Che Stang.
The Honda Element U.S. Open of Surfing anchors Philips Fusion, America’s original and largest oceanfront event of its kind. The $225,000 action sports, technology and music festival, sponsored by Philips Electronics, attracts more than 600 world-class athletes from across the globe and features surfing, skateboarding and BMX in innovative venues along with an interactive electronics festival area and live concerts. The U.S. Open is the highest rated event on the $500,000 Foster’s Pro Surfing Tour. Competition begins on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. with round 196, heats 1-16 of men’s followed at 1:30 by heats 1-8 of round 160.