South African Michael February (ZAF) got a dose of the CT at J-Bay and came out with a clutch performance to earn his way into Round 3 as CT rookie Ian Gouveia (BRA) was eliminated. February found himself in fourth place heading into the five-minute mark and got to work on his backhand to earn a 7.10 and get back into the heat. But, the 24-year-old wasn’t done yet and exploded through two more critical backhand attacks on a set wave that he finished off in the shorebreak, receiving a near-perfect 9.17 to complete his comeback run.
“That wave at the end was such a blessing,” February said. “Those last two waves and then that 9 just really helped put me at ease. It’s been the best start of my career ever. Coming into the US Open last year, I started in the Round of 112 because of my seed, and now here being 4th on the QS is a completely foreign feeling for me. I’m just trying to feel it out and get sorted, but I’m really happy to get that first heat out of the way. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t want to qualify, everyone on the QS is trying to do that and I’m stoked with results from my last few events and just want to keep the positives alive going into the next few.”
QS veteran Carlos Munoz (CRI) came up with a big performance of his own over top seeded surfers, former CT competitor Keanu Asing (HAW) and 2017 standout Yago Dora (BRA). The Costa Rican lit up Huntington’s lineup, smashing bottom-to-top turn combinations to earn a 14.10 heat total. Munoz and Asing will continue through to the next round. Munoz comes into the Vans US Open of Surfing fresh off a win at the Surf Open Acapulco QS 1,000, his first-ever QS victory.
“I’m very happy to start this way with a heat win and it’s been a tough year for me, but that win in Acapulco gave me a lot of confidence,” Munoz said. “I’ve been training and surfing a lot these last couple of months and I just wasn’t making any heats so I’m excited to come here to the big show with a win to start. Everybody wants to be in Top 10 by the end of the year and these last few events everyone’s going to be training hard to try and qualify.”
Fellow Costa Rican Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) and South African Beyrick de Vries (ZAF)continued the upsets by eliminating CT rookie Ezekiel Lau (HAW) and top seeded surfer Michael Rodrigues (BRA).
Jadson Andre boosting. Photo: WSL / Morris
Jadson Andre (BRA) stayed clear of an early exit by finding a classic Huntington Beach barrel that sling-shotted him out and through the pier pilings to finish off his 8.33 ride with forehand snaps. The CT competitor is in a slump at the elite level and now turns back to the QS for a spark and found just that in his opening heat.
“I saw a couple waves that had proper barrels and I was actually looking to find them out there after joking with Miguel [Pupo] saying I was out of my mind,” Andre said. “ I really love to compete on the QS and this event is always one of my favorites for the whole year so I’m definitely going to try for a good run here. I’m not in the position I want to be on the Championship Tour so I’m looking for a good result on the QS.”
Griffin Colapinto (USA) continued that trend by advancing on, despite Miguel Pupo’s (BRA) early exit at the hands of former CT competitor Dusty Payne (HAW). Colapinto’s massive backside rock-n-roll floater on a bomb set him up for an inside finish that earned the San Clemente standout a 7.67 to begin his heat. At just 19-years-old, Colapinto is already a name known around the surfing world and is on his way to becoming a threat to some of the world’s best.
San Clemente's Griffin Colapinto. Photo: WSL / Morris
“I’m feeling really good and that heat was super fun even though there weren’t that many open corners, but that first left I got into the pier that let me get my big turn had me psyching they gave me a 7 which got my confidence going,” Colapinto said. “I’ve had success here and just sleeping in my own bed, hanging with my friends and family, it’s just the best thing to have a big contest at home. I’ll just keep it light this week and keep laughing while taking it one heat a time to give it my best go.”
The final heat of the day witnessed one last upset as CT rookie Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) fell victim to an in-form Soli Bailey (AUS) and Marco Giorgi (URY).
Top seeds Pat Gudauskas (USA), Mitch Crews (AUS) and Tomas Hermes (BRA) survived debut upsets alongside CT competitors Connor Coffin (USA), Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Italo Ferreira (BRA), who are also into Round 3.
Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS10,000 action will recommence at 7:30 a.m. PDT with Round 2 Heat 23 before the Women’s CT Quarterfinal bouts get underway.