The Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s QS 10,000 completed their Round 5 head-to-head match-ups to determine the Quarterfinal draw for tomorrow’s finish.
Hometown hero Kanoa Igarashi (USA) is back into another finals day at his beloved Huntington Beach after a dominant performance over fellow CT competitor Stuart Kennedy (AUS). The 19-year-old’s local knowledge is nearly unmatched at this event and Igarashi continues to utilize it to advance through each heat.
“I just wanted to make sure I stayed in the lead and when that south wind started kicking up I knew it would make conditions tough, so I’m glad I got those first two waves,” Igarashi said. “Even though the wind is light, this lineup gets super sensitive so I knew the opportunities would become more scarce and that I had to capitalize on the ones that came. I’m excited to be in finals day again for the third year in a row. Huntington’s just that special place for me and I love the feeling of being at home. It’s great to just see and hear all that support from the beach so I always look forward to seeing them on finals day.”
Defending event winner Filipe Toledo (BRA) nearly met his match in a relentless Davey Cathels (AUS) that witnessed the two exchange leads numerous times until the final buzzer. It was no easy task for Toledo against the fighting spirit of Cathels, whose power-surfing edged out the Brazilian’s air-game on a critical exchange that earned him a 7.00 over Toledo’s 6.87. The exchanges continued as the five-minute mark drew closer and Toledo’s 6.07 put him out front, but Cathels’ 6.00 earned the Australian another lead change. But, Toledo wasn’t done and found a critical forehand snap before two quick maneuvers on the inside to earn a massive victory.
“That was a really close heat against Davey [Cathels], he’s just such a good surfer and I felt my scores were a little low, but I’m stoked to make it through after that last right got me the score,” Toledo said. “There were some close priority calls that are part of the game so you just have to stay focused on your own surfing and I’m so stoked to be down here with all my family and friends, along with all the fans cheering me on. It’s just an awesome day to get back into finals day and I’m looking forward to it tomorrow.”
Ricardo Christie (NZL) began the day with a big performance over 2015 event winner Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) as he looks to requalify for the Championship Tour (CT). The New Zealand representative is searching for his best result at a QS 10,000 since 2015 where he earned an equal third. But, Christie’s momentum may be something to help carry him against the in-form Igarashi in a rematch from Round Three earlier this week.
Ricardo Christie. Photo: WSL / Rowland
“Every heat I make just gives me that much more confidence because everyone here could win this event,” Christie said. “Coming up against Hiroto [Ohhara], I knew he was going to be one of the standouts just with all the speed he can generate out of nothing. I’m just such a fan of the sport -- I watch all the CTs and it’d be so cool to be back there with my mates. They really help push my surfing and I’ll give it my best go this year once again.”
Michael February (ZAF) is on his way to another big QS 10,000 finish with his Quarterfinal berth today. The current QS No. 4 has room to move with both QS ranked No. 3, Yago Dora (BRA), and No. 2, Willian Cardoso (BRA), out of the event. February’s explosive surfing continues to impress at Huntington Beach with his signature style -- earning a huge win over Dusty Payne (HAW) with the round’s only excellent score of an 8.00.
South Africa's Michael February is slowly making a name for himself. Photo: WSL / Morris
“It was definitely a bit more tricky than it’s been the last few days with some smaller conditions and a higher tide this morning, but the wind was coming into the rights so I took advantage of that,” February said. “I knew Dusty [Payne] is crazy in the air as well and I knew I had to do something different, and luckily it paid off when I landed that air. This has been one of my best years and just thinking about what’s different, we usually have a big gap between events after Australia, but this year we had about four or five events in South Africa. Just to be able to surf a lot of heats has been nice to get that practice in leading up to Ballito, getting a result there, and really just enjoying surfing, which is always great.”
Former CT competitor Patrick Gudauskas (USA) dispatched Italo Ferreira (BRA) on a buzzer-beater 6.70, needing a 4.90 heading into the dying minutes. But, Gudauskas’ fellow San Clemente surfer Griffin Colapinto (USA) was not as fortunate with Brazilian threat Tomas Hermes (BRA)taking a big win.
Carlos Munoz (CRI) continues to keep his hopes of a major breakthrough alive here in Huntington after taking down CT competitor Jadson Andre (BRA). Seasoned veteran Josh Kerr (AUS) is also onto finals day of the Vans US Open of Surfing QS for a chance at his first-ever win in Huntington
The Vans US Open of Surfing will see its final day of competition tomorrow with the Women’s CT and Men’s QS Finals Day called on. The Men’s QS will start the day at 7:30 a.m. with the Quarterfinals.