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The 2018 Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch continued today in Huntington Beach with the Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 (Round 2, Heats 9-16) and the Men’s Pro Junior Quarterfinals and Semifinals. The World Surf League (WSL) QS offers surfers the opportunity to qualify for the elite Championship Tour (CT), the world’s premier surfing series that crowns the world champions at the conclusion of each season, and today's early heats saw competitors to fight for critical points to put toward their global ranking.
It was fireworks from the start in tough conditions as Deivid Silva’s (BRA) forehand attack went to work and opened up with an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10). The Brasilian felt right at home in the beachbreak with his light-footed approach and lightning fast maneuvers helping to eliminate CT competitor Frederico Morais (PRT). Silva currently sits at No. 6 on the QS rankings after a big QS 6,000 win in Australia to start the year, and is looking to solidify his spot among the Top 10 with another massive result here.
“I’m feeling good and the waves are like the Sydney event so I have some confidence here,” Silva said. “I’m also really happy because my good friend Victor (Bernardo) made that heat with me even though it was really slow out there. This is an important event with 10,000 points on the line and I’m happy to be back in Huntington. There isn’t a lot of pressure since I did pretty bad here last year and I just want to improve myself, and my surfing, at this event.”
Former CT competitor Miguel Pupo (BRA) continued the Brasilian brilliance by earning a stunning 15.66 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Pupo fell off tour after the 2016 season and is fighting toward requalification. Pupo has been awarded multiple wildcards on the coveted CT this season, but hasn’t capitalized yet as he just sits at No. 14 on the QS with a handful of Quarterfinal finishes. However, the 26-year-old spent nearly a decade on Tour and has no intention on giving up his dream of returning there.
Happy days for Miguel Pupo. Photo: WSL / Rowland
“I’ve been in California for almost three and a half weeks now with my family just living each day, and surfing all over,” Pupo said. “I went up to the Surf Ranch and surfed down in Trestles for that swell last week. It’s a beautiful day here and I’m so happy to make it through that one. The past few years I’ve lost first round here and getting a result here is key looking toward the back half of the year heading into Hawaii. I’m looking to get back on track here, I have a good board under my feet, and I’m just in a good state of mind right now.”
Finn McGill (HAW) looked well on his way to halting the Brasilian force, but a dominant performance from Bino Lopes (BRA), earning an 8.17 and 6.23, and huge comeback by Thiago Camarao (BRA) in the closing seconds sent the reigning World Junior Champion packing.
QS elite and second-year CT competitor Joan Duru (FRA) garnered an astonishing, event best 15.83 heat total over Jadson Andre (BRA), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), and Hiroto Arai (JPN). The Frenchman is joined by fellow countrymen, CT veteran Charly Martin (FRA) in Round 3 and Duru’s hopes are high fir a big result in Huntington Beach for the first time in his career -- he hasn't bettered an equal 17th since 2011.
Joan Duru flys high. Photo: WSL / Rowland
“It feels really good with the waves being pretty slow this morning, but I was able to get a few good ones out there,” Duru said. “I made the right choices and if you do that you give yourself a good chance at picking off a few scores. I’m not doing so good on the CT right now so these big events are really important for me to get some points. It would be great to good result being the middle of the year and I’m just happy to make that one, hopefully make a few more since I’ve been losing a lot of heats this year.”
Also earning key debut wins were current World No. 4 Italo Ferreira (BRA), CT sophomoreEzekiel Lau (HAW), Mihimana Braye (PYF), who helped eliminate CT veteran Jeremy Flores (FRA) and former CT competitor Ricardo Christie (NZL), and current QS No. 1 Peterson Crisanto (BRA) with an electrifying performance that earned him the event’s highest single-wave score of an 8.77.
“I have a lot of confidence coming off that win in South Africa and I know if I make the Final here I’m pretty much on Tour next year so that’s my goal at this event,” Crisanto said. “It’s great to see all the Brazilian boys ripping today. Even though the waves are a little small and inconsistent, we’re all surfing the same conditions so I’m really happy to make it out of that one.”
Following the Men’s Qualifying Series action, the Men’s Pro Junior Finalists were decided with inspiring performances and big eliminations. A diverse field of talent now awaits the four-man Final for the prestigious Vans US Open of Surfing win. The Men’s Pro Junior Final will feature San Clemente locals Kade Matson (USA) and Cole Houshmand (USA), Hawaii’s Barron Mamiya, and Mexico’s Alan Cleland after their wins today.
A vital day of competition for the region’s best 18-and-under surfers began with a heavy upset courtesy of Jackson Butler (USA) as he helped eliminate current North America No. 1 Crosby Colapinto (USA) and No. 2 Eithan Osborne (USA) with 2017 standout Houshmand advancing alongside Butler. However, the Encinitas, California, native couldn’t finish out the day on top as a clutch performance from Matson, and Houshmand, earned him a spot into his second-straight Vans US Open Pro Junior Final -- his second Finals appearance of 2018.
“This is one of my favorite events and after I cracked the Final last year I just want to win it this year,” Matson said. “I feel really good right now after getting that Final in Los Cabos earlier this summer and I won an NSSA National title here a few weeks ago so I feel in-sync with this wave. To have all the San Clemente guys here is so good because we push each other really hard even though we’re all great friends, we all want to win so it’s a healthy rivalry that we all have.”
Kade Matson advances to the Junior Pro Finals. Photo: WSL / Morris
Alongside a well-represented San Clemente, California, crew, Hawaii will once again have a competitor in the Final as Mamiya smashed his way through Quarterfinal and Semifinal action. After Cody Young’s (HAW) victory last year, Mamiya has an opportunity to keep the US Open trophy on the islands, but knows the work is far from done.
“I’m psyched to be in the Final after I had a great start to the year, but I’ve been on a bit of a downer with some poor results since so this is great momentum,” Mamiya said. “For the Final I’m just going to try and find the best two waves of the heat and rip them as hard as I can. This is a big arena with huge crowds so I just put my headphones in and not try to think about it. Cody (Young) is one of my good friends and I wasn’t here last year unfortunately to be with him to celebrate that win, but hopefully I can win it this year and fly the flag for us again.”
Mamiya is joined by an in-form Cleland after a dominant Quarterfinal performance propelled him to the stacked Semifinal that he was able to advance from, marking his best career finish so far.
The Vans US Open of Surfing will continue tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. PST with Women’s Pro Junior Round 1 (H1-4), Quarterfinals (H1-4), and Semifinals (H1-2), followed by the Men’s QS Round 2 (H17-24).