Things just got spicy at the pier. As the U.S. Open's Mens QS 10,000 continues to bang through heats, the passion, pressure and plot lines are becoming more and more evident.
"I love surfing, that's my motivation, and I'd love to do it as a job again," said Maui's Tanner Hendricksonafter beating Italo Ferreira and Joan Duru in their Round 3 heat. "I'd love to do it as a job again. I don't get paid to surf anymore, but I'd love nothing more than to get back to that stage where I am getting surf."
After finishing runner-up at the U.S. Open in 2015, Hendrickson has since been battling on the QS without the support of any sponsors. When presented with the opportunity to go against two top-tier CT surfers in Ferreira and Duru, he put everything he had into the effort.
"Before the heat started he was kind of kicking water in my face, so halfway through we were kind of in a paddle battle and I was like, ‘Let's see how you like getting water kicked in your face,'" said Hendrickson of a brief scuffle with Ferreira in the water. No hard feelings, it was just a good heat. It got really fired up, that's for sure."
That was the theme of the day. Back and forth heats ensued between elite Tour surfers going up against a savvy pack of QS grinders.
Seth Moniz. Photo: WSL / Morris
Surging young Hawaiian Seth Moniz, who currently sits second on the QS ratings, was another one to rattle the CT cage when he beat Patrick Gudauskas. Both surfers advanced into the next round.
"Coming up against those guys can be a lot harder, but I feel like a lot of the QS guys are hungrier in these big QS events," said Moniz. "The CT guys may be focused more on the CT. It's not that they're not giving it 100-percent, but it might not be their big goal."
Finding his rhythm after the first three rounds, he's now looking to push on through to the Quarterfinals or better and solidify his position on the QS.
Evan Geiselman flying to the next Round. Photo: WSL / Morris
"After getting through the first two heats I start to feel less pressure," explained Moniz. "Getting through that first round yesterday was tough, I'm always a lot more nervous in the first heat. I feel like I build up good energy as I go through."
In a stacked heat featuring Michael February, Nat Young and Ian Crane, Evan Geiselman started slow but found his groove as the time ticked off the clock. Currently ranked eighth on the QS, he took the win to advance.
"These Primes are just so big," said Geiselman. "In years past I've had big results, but I haven't really seized opportunities where I almost got ahead of myself a little bit. I'm just taking each heat as it comes and trying to leave it all in the water."
Reef Heazlewood, on fire. Photo: WSL / Rowland
As the day wound down the plot continued to thicken when U.S. Open Trials winner Reef Heazlewood dug deep and bested CT surfers Griffin Colapinto and Yago Dora to kick off Round 4. After fighting his way through four heats in the trials and three heats in the main event so far, the rising Australian star is definitely on a roll.
"A couple nerves come here and there, but before that heat I was just getting super excited because I knew that they were both amazing surfers and I just wanted to put on a good show. I felt really good before I went out and I just wanted to go hard," said 18-year-old Heazlewood.
Reef and coach Rainos Hayes. Photo: WSL / Rowland
"You're not going into a heat like that thinking about building house. You have to start big and go from there. You can't underestimate them. You need to go big," continued Heazlewood.
Into Round 4 of the Men's QS and waiting for the Women's CT to get underway, the next call will be Friday morning at 7:00am PDT.