The Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS 10,000 completed Round 2, and Heats 1 through 8 of Round 3. Massive performances lit up the event, subsequently rattling the QS elite.
Carlos Munoz (CRI) continued to unleash his powerful surfing upon Huntington Beach’s proper sets and bashed an outside section with perfect timing to earn a near-perfect 9.00. The Costa Rican was enveloped by the whitewater crashing all around him and escaped with momentum to hammer one last snap on the inside. Munoz is already a seasoned QS campaigner at age 24, but awaits his shot at becoming a qualification threat -- his best finish at No. 24 on the QS rankings in 2014.
“I know every heat out here is hard and when I stood up on that wave I saw that section coming back at me and I just had to go hard right into it,” Munoz said. “That whole heat the waves were kind of hard to read so after I got my backup I just sat on the guys with priority and I’m just so stoked to get that win. I’ve changed a lot of stuff in my life and staying focused on the positives -- staying with my family and just training a lot. Surfing is my passion, It’s changed my entire life and it’s provided such an amazing future just not being able to afford this dream without it. It would be amazing to get on the CT. I’m still hunting for it and I’m going to give it my best every year.”
Hometown hero Kanoa Igarashi (USA) continued the winning form of local surfers with a Round 3 win over a stacked heat that included fellow CT competitors Kolohe Andino (USA) and Ethan Ewing (AUS), both of whom were eliminated, and former CT surfer Ricardo Christie (NZL). Igarashi’s local knowledge paid off in a close heat with his wave selection making all the difference as he found proper outside connections that guided him toward the shore for big finishes.
“We don’t always get a lot of big swells in Southern California, but when they do it’s like this and you just want to be on the best waves,” Igarashi said. “It helps knowing which waves to pass up. I get to spend about three-to-four weeks at home between here and the Trestles contest so I don’t get to spend a lot of time here, but it’s great to see my family and friends. I’m doing both the QS and CT right now, and I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve been ticking all the boxes, but I’m wishing to get some better results since I’m not having a great year, but I’m learning so much and just enjoying it all.”
Davey Cathels on a mission. Photo: WSL / Morris
Former CT competitor Davey Cathels (AUS) got to work under the halfway mark of his Round 3 heat after a slow start had him in fourth place. But, the Australian found a pier-bowl left that allowed him to crank two critical snaps before connecting to the inside for a big finish -- earning him a near-excellent 7.60 to bolt him into first. Cathels then followed up with another 7.10 toward the end of the heat to solidify a big win over Josh Kerr (AUS), advancing in second, Victor Bernardo (BRA) and Lucas Silveira (BRA).
“Once you get a taste of the good life on Tour it’s pretty hard to come back to the QS,” said Cathles. “I was pretty deflated at the start of the year with a few bad results at home, which was disappointing before getting hurt. I was out for about ten weeks and lost a bunch of competitions in a row so to come here and make a few heats is great. This is only the second QS 10,000 and we’re already halfway through, but I feel like the season has just starting and I’m not counting myself out yet. Getting back on Tour is where I’m at right now and want to be back there within the next few seasons.”
Defending Vans US Open of Surfing winner Filipe Toledo (BRA) blasted his way to another heat win and is back into Round 4 for a chance at repeating here in Huntington Beach alongside former CT competitor Adam Melling (AUS) -- who topped current CT surfer Jack Freestone (AUS).
Alejo Muniz. Photo: WSL / Morris
Former Vans US Open of Surfing winners Alejo Muniz (BRA) and Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) will also advance to Round 4 after a big day of competition. They will join CT competitors Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Connor O’ Leary (AUS). The final horn of the day for QS competitors witnessed South African upstart Michael February (ZAF) and Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) continuing on as big threats.
But, action at the Huntington Beach Pier wasn’t done yet as the Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s Pro Junior Quarterfinals were contested and the world got a glimpse of up-and-coming threats making a name for themselves in the southside arena.
Cole Houshmand (USA) came out with a great start and earned a 6.83 by going to town on a lefthand runner that provided multiple opportunities the San Clemente, California native took advantage of. Fellow San Clemente surfer Kade Matson (USA) advanced behind him and eliminated international, rising threat Samuel Pupo (BRA). Both continue on with a chance at earning valuable points toward the Pro Junior rankings to begin the back half of 2017.
Cole Houshmand. Photo: WSL / Morris
“There’s a full crew of us San Clemente boys and I’ve had a lot of friends come down to support, and it’s been really fun to support all friends from home,” Houshmand said. “To see all the Women’s CT and Men’s QS, just all the people I look up to, has been an amazing experience as well. Having both here is a little intimidating and inspiring, seeing all the guys at the QS10,000 level is where I want to be someday so I’m continually working on that goal. I’m feeling really good after losing out in the Quarterfinals last year so it’s nice to redeem myself and move on to the Semis.”
2017 Australia/Oceania Pro Junior Champion Reef Heazlewood (AUS) has taken to the road following a dominating performance throughout his junior series and prepares for the World Junior Championships (WJC) -- along with his first full year on the QS next year. Heazlewood got to work early and kept his rhythm throughout the heat despite John Mel (USA) dropping the day’s highest single-score of an 8.67. The Australian looks to take this event out and continue the international dominance once again after Canary Island’s Luis Diaz (CNY) won last year.
“I was having a lot of fun out there and I’m stoked to win that heat,” Heazlewood said. “It’s pretty amazing to be standing here. I’ve got a great a support system here with my girlfriend Summer [Macedo], mom, as well as my team manager, so it’s a good crew and means a lot to have them all here. The Australasia events are done for the year so I’ve moved onto the QS events and it’s been grindy, but I’m enjoying it. It’s such a good experience and looking forward to what happens next year on the QS.”
The Vans US Open will kick of the Women’s Pro Junior heats tomorrow after the Men’s QS completes Round 3 (H9-12) and Round 4 (H1-8).