The Van’s US Open of Surfing got its hands dirty with some gardening these past few days. Losers were weeded out from the field and heat-by-heat, Huntington Beach’s nearby bar district became more and more crowded. By Thursday night, it was standing room only in most pubs. And the party was thumping.
Meanwhile, in the ocean, the competition raged onward. Less than enticing conditions on Wednesday lead to fun, and building, surf on Thursday. The men’s field was whittled down to 24, with 13 World Tour Surfers still in the mix. Adriano de Souza won the first heat of the Round of 24, in a heated matchup of Brazilian twenty-somethings.
“I was nervous because I creased my board twice, but I knew I couldn’t leave Jadson [Andre] and Alex [Ribeiro] out there alone,” de Souza said. “For me this year this event’s so much fun because I’ve had a big year already and I’m happy to be making my heats here at the US Open. I was happy to get my two scores in that one. Everyone’s fighting for one spot out there and outside of the water we’re all friends, but in the water it’s business. We’re all there for the same thing and it involves money and points. I’m stoked to get that heat win.”
In that same round, Kolohe Andino, just 19 years young, found himself in a throwdown between World Tour surfers Julian Wilson and Sebastian Zietz. He used his Orange County prowess to shake a win out of Huntington Beach.
“I have so much respect for Julian (Wilson) and Seabass (Sebastian Zietz),” Andino said. “I wanted to beat them really bad. The waves are more fun today, they’re more peaky and I’m stoked on that. This contest is so hard and all of the Primes have WCT guys and then guys that want the money or points. I like these waves, I’ve surfed these waves my whole life and I’m really excited to make it to the next round.”
On the Women’s side, Sally Fitzgibbons smoked her Round 3 heat to earn a direct flight to the Quarters. World title hopeful Carissa Moore narrowly lost to cohort Coco Ho, and now she’s got to battle it out with Lakey Peterson to earn her spot in the QFs.
With swell on the come-up, expect to see some extraordinary things as we come upon the business end of the event. Winners, who will be declared on Sunday, will have to pull some ballsy maneuvers to keep the crowd, and the judges, content. And as for everyone else? Well, the HB nightlife is only one heat loss away.