Huntington Beach is heating up with the maelstrom that is the Vans US Open of Surfing once again with a full schedule of surfing. From the world's best women, on the Championship Tour (CT), to some of the world's best men, in the QS10,000, it is also a showcase of who's emerging as the next crop of talent.
The Vans US Open Pro Junior winner list includes international surfers alongside some of the United States' next best hopes. This year is no different, with an array of groms ready to showcase what they have in the Huntington arena. Here's just a few to keep an eye on at this year's madness:
Che Allan. Photo: WSL / Ferguson
Recent Evidence: Allan's deadly backhand earned him a second WSL Pro Junior title at the Los Cabos Open of Surf to kick off his summer. The 18-year-old solidified his status as an up-and-coming threat with a Quarterfinal finish at the World Junior Championships back in January. That result came following his first-ever Pro Junior win on his native island of Barbados at Soup Bowl to earn a place into Worlds.
Word on the Street: With a growing talent pool of Bajan surfers, Allan is leading the next wave of his fellow Caribbean surfers alongside Dane and Bruce Mackie, Josh and Jacob Burke, and Zander Venezia. Allan's dynamic backhand attack has been finessed in the righthand reefbreaks he's grown up surfing and with a smooth style to compliment it, he's certainly finding his way among the competitive scene.
Brazil's ripper Sammy Pupo. Photo: WSL / Patterson
Recent Evidence: Miguel isn't the only Pupo on the surf scene that competitors should be worried about. His younger brother, Samuel, burst onto the QS last year -- earning an equal-17th at the Hawaiian Pro QS10,000. At just 16, Pupo has already earned himself a CT result as a Rip Curl Bells Beach wildcard earlier this year and sits at No. 89 on the QS rankings heading into Huntington Beach -- where he'll compete in both events.
Word on the Street: The surfing community saw Pupo's flashy air game when he first emerged as a serious threat making both the Vans Pro QS3,000 and Pro Junior finals. However, at Bells in April, the world was introduced to his rail game, which is only growing better with age.
Ryland Rubens. Photo: WSL / Morris
Recent Evidence: The Pacific Beach, Calif., native currently leads the North America Pro Junior rankings and for good reason: He won the first event of the year and followed that with a runner-up in Los Cabos to jet out for an early lead. His Semifinal appearance here at the Vans US Open last year was no fluke, as he posted a near-perfect 9.33 at Huntington Beach Pier during the Shoe City Pro QS1,000 earlier this year.
Word on the Street: Rubens' calm demeanor helps make him a well-rounded surfer as he finds his way onto the competitive scene.
Cole Houshmand. Photo: WSL / Nichols
Recent Evidence: As if San Clemente's talent pool wasn't deep enough, another name to get familiar with is emerging. Houshmand recently earned a spot into his first QS Final at the Powerade Surf Open Acapulco with a runner-up finish. He also claimed a big win at the Surfing America Championships in the U18 at Lowers earlier this summer.
Word on the Street: Houshmand's aggressive surfing is one you wouldn't foresee coming from the light-hearted teenager, but his prowess in a jersey is one of a rising threat to the QS. With a great crew of fellow San Clemente surfers around him, as well as his fellow Vissla teammate Che Allan, one of Team USA's representatives for ISA World Surfing Games will be one to watch in coming years.
The women of North America will be back competing against some of the world's emerging talents including reigning World Junior Champion Macy Callaghan and current European No. 1 Teresa Bonvalot.
Caroline Marks. Photo: WSL / Marenelmar
Recent Evidence: Repeat champion at the Vans US Open Pro Junior, countless amateur titles in the Huntington Beach arena, and former CT wildcard, the 15-year-old is never one to leave out of conversation. Marks still has an entire career ahead of her and already a resume that only continues to grow. The Floridian-turned-California transplant earned a fourth-place finish in Los Cabos and will look for her third US Open title to climb the rankings.
Word on the Street: Marks' balance of carefree spirit and competitive drive is a key factor in her success -- but her bubbly personality belies her competitive drive. The newest addition to San Clemente's surfing community, her Florida roots are strong, thanks to the unwavering support from her tight-knit family.
California's Alyssa Spencer. Photo: WSL / Marenelmar
Recent Evidence: Spencer kicked off 2017 firing on all cylinders once more on the Pro Junior circuit with a repeat win in Cocoa Beach, Florida. But, this time around she's backed up with a runner-up in Los Cabos and now sits firmly atop the women's rankings. After her 2016, debut season yielded a trip to World Junior Champions, the 14-year-old will settle for nothing less this year.
Word on the Street: Spencer has surfed alongside Marks and Houshmand as a Team USA representative and for good reason. The Carlsbad native's backhand is a style all her own, technical and near-flawless when taking a closer look -- Marks and Spencer will have a healthy rivalry in coming years alongside their fellow Pro Junior contingent.
Samantha Sibley. Photo: WSL / Marenelmar
Recent Evidence: Another 14-year-old the surfing world will begin to see more of is another rising talent from San Clemente, California. Sibley claimed a huge result to kick off her year at the Shoe City Pro in January with a runner-up finish. She continued that form into the first Pro Junior event with another runner-up and now looks to force the issue on her fellow juniors -- as she currently sits at No. 2.
Word on the Street: This marks Sibley's second year among the WSL ranks with a big career ahead of her. The pint-sized grom packs a punch with her explosive surfing in an array of conditions and has been known to turn heats in the dying minutes -- such was the case at Huntington Beach earlier this year for the Shoe City Pro.
Kirra Pinkerton. Photo: WSL / Marenelmar
Recent Evidence: San Clemente up-and-comer Pinkerton has continued to move up the ranks each year and now sits in the Top 50 among the QS elite and No. 3 on the North America Junior Tour rankings. Her performance last year at the Copa El Salvador Impresionante shined a light on the emerging talent after besting Coco Ho in Round 3 before finishing with an Equal 17th.
Word on the Street: Pinkerton rounds off the list of 14-year-olds leading the charge and already has the mindset of a seasoned competitor. Her technique on the forehand attack was displayed to its full potential in El Salvador's righthand pointbreaks and in freesurfing her home break of Trestles. But, don't let her smile and fun-loving spirit fool you, once the jersey's on it's an entirely different person in the water.