Nathaniel Curran Wins Honda U.S. Open Of Surfing presented by O’Neill and takes WQS ratings lead.
“This is the biggest win of my life!” exclaimed an overwhelmed Nathaniel Curran after a victory hoisting courtesy of brothers Tim and Josh on Sunday afternoon. It marked the crescendo of a competitive hot streak for Curran, who bested Frenchman Tim Boal in the final. A win at the U.S. Open means lots of things; precious WQS points, a big payout, media hype, and so on. But Nathaniel Curran’s win at this year’s contest went above and beyond all that. For starters, it shot him up to number one on the WQS ratings, a place that every young pro dreams of being.
Perhaps more importantly though, it served as proof that the Ventura ripper is back in a big way. He’s the youngest of the Curran brothers, and has lived in older brother Tim’s shadow coming up. But on Sunday he stepped confidently out of that shadow, pulling off what Timmy never could despite making multiple finals here over the years: a win at the U.S. Open, the biggest surf contest in the world.
“It was the best contest of my life,” said Nathaniel. “Tim’s had some bad luck in the finals here before, but I’m just so stoked to take it.”
As a young pro just entering the ranks, Nathaniel was being touted as one of the next big things to come out of California. But after suffering multiple shoulder injuries a few years back, he slowly faded out of the limelight. After having his last surgery more than a year ago, he trained hard for the rest of the year and put his mind to coming out of the gates strong on the WQS the next year. He got a couple of decent results early in 2008, but it was his decision to go to the Brazil leg instead of the Maldives that kick started his year.
Instead of going to the Maldives for one big six star like nearly every other American on the WQS did, Curran strategized with his brothers and decided going to Brazil, where there would be multiple contests, might offer a better opportunity. “That was a big decision,” said Curran. “I had a long talk with my two brothers and talked about which was the better thing to do. We decided Brazil might be a bit under the radar and not as many people there, and it paid off.”
It certainly did pay off, and it marked the beginning of a searing hot streak for Curran, who’s previous year-end best on the WQS was 42nd a few years back. Curran came into Brazil rated in the 30s, and by the time he finished that leg plus another good result at the South Africa comp, he had quietly rocketed up to fourth place.
Still, coming into the U.S. Open, few would’ve picked him to win. But he ripped his way through some heavy heats en route to a spot in the final, along with France’s Tim Boal. It was only slightly ironic that last year’s final also had a Frenchman in it, with Jeremy Flores coming in runner up to C.J. Hobgood. Even the conditions were similar; inconsistent and crumbly four foot peaks courtesy of high tide Huntington.
Curran started things off quick with a wave less than a minute into the heat, a soft right that he destroyed on the inside reform for a 6.8. And then right under Boal’s nose he snagged another one, and racked up another decent score. And then it went flat, eerily like last year’s final.
The few traded a few more scores throughout the heat, but heading into the final minute Boal found himself needing a 6 and change. With ten seconds left, he tracked down a smaller set wave, and found a solid reform section and managed a speed float on the end. Then the scoring computers went down, and the crowd was left to guess whether or not the Frenchman got the score.
After a few minutes of waiting at the water’s edge, Nathaniel’s brothers hoisted him up on their shoulders, perhaps anticipating that he’d won, or maybe they’d got the inside scoop. But since the result hadn’t been announced yet, the crowd was confused as Nathaniel took his victory ride up the beach. Before long though, everyone figured out that Boal didn’t get the score and that Nathaniel had just capped off the biggest win of his life.
The massive points infusion catapulted him into the number one slot on the WQS. Will it be the contest that put Nathaniel Curran on the 2009 WCT? We’ll have to wait and see, but if he keeps this hot streak going, it’s just a matter of time before another regularfoot from Ventura joins the Dream Tour.
Results of the Honda U.S. Open Of Surfing Presented By O’Neill
1. Nathaniel Curran (USA)
2. Tim Boal (Fra)
=3. Gabe Kling (USA), Brett Simpson (USA)
=5. Dusty Payne (HAW), Eric Geiselman (USA), Chris Waring (USA), Joan Duru (FRA)