The 2018 Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch got back underway with an exciting, inaugural Women’s Duct Tape Invitational event and heavyweight Round 3 Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) matchups before the first two heats of Round 4 were contested. Big names stumbled on the men's front as QS newcomers continue making a name for themselves on one of surfing's biggest stages, but the day began with a more light-hearted approach before tense heats ensued.
Some of the world’s best women longboarders displayed their elegance and style as they decided their Finalists with a few surprising upsets. Most notably, 2016 WSL Longboard Champion Tory Gilkerson (USA) was eliminated in a wave-for-wave battle to start Semifinal action. Kaitlin Maguire (USA) got the best of Gilkerson in a great Quarterfinal start, and stole an advancing position from her once more in the heated Semifinal.
It was Hawaiian competitor Kelis Kaleoppa (HAW) who earned both a big Quarterfinal and Semifinal victory, showcasing her grace through long noserides to the inside and finishing off each wave. Now, the Oahu, Hawaii, native looks poised for the first-ever Women’s Duct Tape Invitational Final.
Good vibes and smiles at the Vans Duct Tape Invitational. Photo: WSL / Rowland
“That was so fun and this is an honor to be a part of the first ever event for the women,” Kaleoppa said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is my first time here and I just surfed for the first time out here this morning so I don’t know what good Huntington is, but that was fun. I didn’t know this event was as big as I thought it was and it’s crazy. It’s good though because there’s been a lot of heavy contest at home and to have all these girls here is incredible so I can’t wait to surf again. If I win that’d be great, but we’re all here to have a god time.”
Fellow Oahu competitor, and reigning WSL Longboard Champion Honolua Blomfield (HAW) displayed why she holds that title with brilliant form throughout the morning. Blomfield, 19, looked calm and prepared for the day’s event, winning both her Quarterfinal and Semifinal heats. But, looks could be deceiving as the young surfer was amid some of her idols and did her best to stay focused on the task at hand.
“It’s such a big deal to be a part of this, it’s the best loggers in the world and women I’ve looked up to since I started surfing so I’m really happy to make the Final,” Blomfield said. “I’ve never done one of these kind of contests, and it’s the first one to be held here like this, which is really exciting. I was actually really nervous out there, because I’ve idolized them and to have them in a heat is really intimidating. Plus, just being a Duct Tape event, having Joel Tudor here, and all these women here -- to be invited to the biggest one is just awesome.”
QF 1: Kaitlin Maguire (USA) 13.73, Tory Gilkerson (USA) 11.83, Mele Saili (USA) 10.64, Hallie Rohr (USA) 4.83
QF 2: Kelis Kaleoppa (HAW) 10.60, Sierra Lerback (USA) 7.80, Karina Rozunko (USA) 6.96, Ivy Thomas (AUS) 3.77
QF 3: Makala Smith (USA) 8.70, Jennifer Smith (USA) 7.94, Ashley Lloyd (USA) 6.97, Mia Larson (USA) 5.40
QF 4: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 12.90, Kassia Meador (USA) 11.17, Summer Richley (USA) 6.04, Erin Ashley (USA) 4.46
SF 1: Kelis Kaleoppa (HAW) 12.00, Kaitlin Maguire (USA) 9.83, Tory Gilkerson (USA) 9.44, Sierra Lerback (USA) 7.67
SF 2: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 11.60, Jennifer Smith (USA) 6.16, Kassia Meador (USA) 4.53, Makala Smith (USA) 4/23