US Open Of Surfing: Day 8 Highlights

Nike U.S. Open Of Surfing: Men’s Round Of 16

Huntington Beach dawned hungover—chilly and overcast, with a heavy cloud cover and light mist greeting the morning. It shouldn’t be any surprise, really—this is the eighth straight day of abuse HB has weathered, and even Surf City USA has its breaking point.

But regardless, the show must go on—and in today’s first heat Brazil’s Filipe Toledo quickly brightened things with a nine point frontside banger, a score that helped him dispatch local boy Timmy Reyes. It’s amazing that one-year ago Toledo was a complete unknown who stormed to a US Open juniors victory, and he’s now sitting in the quarters with a legitimate shot to win the whole damn thing.

A few heats later, Nathaniel Curran paddled out versus Dane Reynolds—a rematch from the same round at this contest in 2010. Just as he did two years ago (when he won the heat) Nate started with two solid scores—a well surfed pier bowl right and an overhead left, putting almost 16 points on the board right off the bat. But Dane kept his composure and surfed smart (sounds weird, right?), capitalizing at the end under Nate’s priority by hucking a massive backside tail blow reverse to the tune of an 8.6 and advancement—setting up a bout with Slater in tomorrow’s second quarter final. If there’s one heat you don’t want to miss, it’s that one.

Speaking of Slater, many were surprised to see him compete this year, especially considering the dismal swell forecast and the amount of obligations he’s constantly juggling. So what brings him here? “I’m good friends with Bob Hurley, and he always invites me to do this contest. And as far as crowds go, Huntington is the main stage to showcase what we do.” But does it bother him to watch trains of swell march towards other locales around the world while he’s competing in fairly average HB? “I do get depressed when I see good surf going elsewhere [laughs], but it is what it is. Even small it’s good here with two directions of swell, and that might happen tomorrow by midday, so we’ll just have to see.”

With that small combo swell in the forecast—the final rounds should at least offer more puntable peaks and provide solid opportunity for the remaining eight. With the way both have been surfing—the winner between Dane/Kelly will be a solid bet to take the win; but here in Huntington it’s nearly impossible to predict a winner. John Florence is throwing automatic forehand shorepound air threes (he never falls), Adriano De Souza is looking hungry (when doesn’t he?), and Julian Wilson is riding a wave of momentum after a clutch win over hometown hero and crowd favorite Brett Simpson.

Hopefully Huntington Beach can hang in there one more day, because tomorrow—amidst a sea of religious fanatics, ‘Free Hug’ tattoos, Chik-Fil-A protestors, and Mister T (even he’s here)—someone is going to win the Nike U.S. Open Of Surfing and leave the beach $100,000 richer. —Zander Morton

Conner Coffin

2012 US Open Pro Junior winner Conner Coffin. Photo: Checkwood

Conner Coffin Wins The US Open Junior Mens Division
“Make it nasty,” said the bikined girl who swayed side-to-side while staring out past the pier from the crowded beach of the US Open. She was drunk enough to be under the impression that the Junior Boys final was still going on in the water, while keen enough to describe Conner Coffin’s performance much more accurately than anyone else on the beach.

The sunny California afternoon smiled at the crowning of Conner Coffin as the 2012 US Open Juniors champion. His domination was noted, analyzed and accepted just to the left of coach Brad Gerlach, behind brother Parker and to the right of his father, who looked as though he may burst from the pride that now filled him inside.

Together Conner’s team sang but one song- Go Conner. “This is so cool,” says Gerlach. “This is really happening. I’m so happy right now.”

Conner was as deserving of the roars and cheers as two heaving turns and a good end section finish in slow, slightly textured low-tide conditions is deserving of the highest of scores from the judging booth.

“I’m stoked to just still be here on the last day of the contest,” said Conner before paddling out to warm up for his semi final heat in the early part of the day. “There’s just so many good guys who have showed up to this thing.”

Today we learn that a modest outlook draws anything but modest results. That power is only as strong as the people who support it the closest. And that California has perhaps found its torchbearer, the noble advocate, in the future of professional surfing. For he has finally found his wings.—Alex Ryden

Nikki Van Dijk Wins The US Open Junior Women’s Division
Australian Nikki Van Dijk, who recently nabbed the ASP Australiasia Pro Junior Championship, is 14th on the women’s world ranking. That’s just three spots from qualifying for the Women’s WCT, and today she demonstrated elite-level chops and won her first contest on U.S. soil: The Nike US Open of Surfing.

Nikki dominated an ultra competitive four-woman final, going up against Quincy Davis, Kaleigh Gilchrist, and current World Junior champion Leila Hurst. Leila chose to compete in the 4-star Open over Rip Curl’s 6-star Movistar Pro in Peru because she feels it’s important for women to have a strong showing in what is arguably one of surfing’s largest arenas. The US Open is also the fifth of seven events on the North American Pro Junior Series, so a win here can be crucial in qualifying for the ASP World Junior Tour.

“It’s crazy. I’m just so happy,” Nikki said after her win. “I just feel like I’m surfing good at the moment and I’m happy to win in front of all of these people. It’s such a huge event for everyone. It’s my first time over here, as well, so it’s a good first year! I’ve had wildcards into a few of the CT events and this year, I did the QS’. I’ve still got four comps to go, so hopefully I can get a few good results and try and actually make the World Tour. But if not, this event is still great. I’m just having fun and not really thinking about that. Enjoying this moment.”—Casey Butler

Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.90 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 8.66
Heat 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.07 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 8.70
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.50 def. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.37
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.90 def. Nathaniel Curran (USA) 16.70
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.90 def. Granger Larsen (HAW) 9.93
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.74 def. Nat Young (USA) 11.40
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) 16.70 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 14.10
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (USA) 14.93 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 14.00

1 – Conner Coffin (USA) 17.10
2 – Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.60
3 – Cooper Chapman (AUS) 11.97
4 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 3.03

Heat 1: Conner Coffin (AUS) 17.96, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.53, Michael February (ZAF) 11.37, Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 11.17
Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.60, Cooper Chapman (AUS) 12.00, Kalani David (HAW) 9.67, Taylor Thorne (USA) 8.93

1 – Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.90
2 – Leila Hurst (HAW) 12.33
3 – Quincy Davis (USA) 11.83
4 – Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) 11.30

SF 1: Quincy Davis (USA) 17.00, Leila Hurst (HAW) 14.20, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 10.49, Chandler Parr (USA) 8.71
SF 2: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 18.34, Bailey Nagy (USA) 11.50, Frankie Harrer (USA) 7.50