Reigning & Former World Champs Andy Irons & Sunny Garcia To Compete on Wednesday
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Tuesday, July 26, 2005 — Former Honda U.S. Open of Surfing champion Rob Machado was among several veteran surfers showing flashes of brilliance at the Huntington Beach Pier today, advancing to tomorrow’s much anticipated showdown with the world’s top-rated professionals. Conditions improved overnight as the swell increased slightly with consistent sets in the shoulder high (3-5 foot) range and much cleaner lines. The competition level turned up a notch, with more progressive surfing and aggressive maneuvers.
Machado, who won this event in 2001, waited patiently on the extreme boundaries of the competition area for the small southern hemisphere pulses that he’s relied on so heavily in prior years. Competing against Florida’s 17-year old junior phenom Eric Geilseman, the Cardiff native who turned pro in 1992 was able to locate and ride two long, stylish left-hander waves toward the pier to advance out of his heat with a total score of 11.27 (out of 20). Geiselman, who advanced out of the Trials, was not intimidated by Machado’s legacy at this event and won the heat with a total of 15.00 points.
“I love surfing this event. It’s the biggest surf I’ve seen in months since I’ve been back East doing promos, said Macahdo. “My first heat always gives me little butterflies; I just have to get into a groove.
Former World Championship Tour (WCT) competitors Kieren Perrow (Australia) and Dean Randazzo (New Jersey) won their heats today as did current world 41 rated Shea Lopez (Florida). Randazzo, who overcame a life-threatening illness two years ago, defeated San Clemente’s Patrick Gudauskas 14.60 points to 14.00. Perrow, also a noted fearless big wave rider, showed his moxie in the beach break conditions, finishing ahead of Hawaiian Gavin Gillette (12.60 to 10.87), who made it into the event as an alternate.
Notable: Australia’s Corey Ziems scored the day’s best wave, a 9.00 while South Africa’s Royden Bryson had the best two-wave heat total, a 16.50.
Due to the World Qualify Series’ (WQS) format change this year — heats from the quarter-finals on feature a man-on-man format — the world’s best male surfers including reigning world champion Andy Irons (Hawaii), reigning event champion Taj Burrow (Australia), Corey Lopez (Florida) and former world champion Sunny Garcia (Hawaii) compete tomorrow, much earlier than in prior years.
Irons, who was delayed for the past four days in Johannesburg, South Africa due to an airline strike, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m. Garcia, the 35 year-old elder statesmen on the WCT, competes against 19 year-old Alex Gray (Palos Verdes), a rookie on the World Qualifying Series (WQS). On Wednesday, women take to the water for the first time in the $30,000 Honda U.S. Open of Surfing.
The Honda U.S. Open of Surfing is the world’s largest professional surfing event, with six-star WQS rated men’s and women’s divisions. Competition continues on Wednesday, July 27th at the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing with the women’s round of 60 (heats 1-6) starting at 8:00 a.m. The men’s round of 96 (heats 1-18) gets underway at 10:00 a.m.
Surfline.com, the official surf report and forecasting service for the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing, is calling for a slight drop in swell over the next few days. A new south swell is expected to fill in on Friday with shoulder high waves and last through the weekend.
The “2005 Bank of the West Beach Games featuring the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill attracts more than 600 international competitors and features surfing, skateboarding, BMX, FMX and volleyball in world-class venues along with an interactive lifestyle festival spread over 12 acres. All events are open to the public, free of charge. The Honda U.S. Open of Surfing is sanctioned by Surfing America/ASP North America. Surfing ccompetition begins on Friday, July 22 and runs through Sunday, July 31. Consumer information is available at www.usopenofsurfing.com and www.bankofthewestbeachgames.com