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Courtney Conlogue won a Qualifying Series event in Huntington Beach when she was 16-years-old and, at the time, it was her biggest win yet - earning her a 6-star title and catapulting her into the successful career she has today.
In 2013 she came close at the US Open, making it to the Final but losing out to Carissa Moore during a heat that went down to the wire with the victor being decided after the buzzer sounded. She's had a couple of good runs since but the SoCal native has never stood on top of the podium at Huntington Beach during a Championship Tour (CT) event. And, after being sidelined by an injury during the first few events of the year, the 25-year-old is still looking to kick start her 2018 season. She's currently sitting at No. 16 on the Jeep Leaderboard, which is a far cry from the World No. 4 standing she had at the end of last year. If there is anyone that is looking to capitalize next week at the Vans US Open of Surfing - it's Conlogue.
Courtney Conlogue's fan base in Huntington Beach. WSL / JACKSON VAN KIRK
"I remember walking down the Huntington Beach pier for the first time with my dad when I was about five or six years old," said Conlogue when asked about her first Huntington experience. "We had just got done surfing at Blackies, which is a mellow spot down the road in Newport. We were checking out the North side of the pier and everything looked so big. My dad looked down at me and said, 'I'm going to teach you how to surf that'. I was in awe. But eventually I did learn how to surf it and we moved onto Lowers shortly after that."
Growing up in Santa Ana, Huntington Beach is the closest thing Conlogue has to a home break. The pier is a little under 30 miles from where she grew up meaning she's spent countless hours mastering the inconsistent conditions that plague the region. On top of that, all her friends and family will be on the beach cheering her on. If we've learned anything about Conlogue over the years, it's that she doesn't shy away from an audience. The loud cheers on offer will only fire her up more.
"The crowds motivate me," continued Conlogue. "My family travels a lot so it's always hard to get everyone in one place but my sister is getting married next month so there's a lot of planning going on right now. Everyone is in town and I'm so excited to have them here. They're always really encouraging, which makes me want to perform."
Conlogue bought a house in Santa Ana last year, so she'll be able to sleep in her own bed while competing in next week's event - a welcomed change to the foreign lands of South Africa. During the Corona Open J-Bay - Women's Conlogue was surfing as good as ever, putting up a high 8.77 during her Round 1 heat. Unfortunately, the winds picked up and conditions started to die out by Round 2. She wasn't able to find the scores needed and was eliminated by Carissa Moore on the first day of competition.
Courtney Conlogue Photo: WSL / DAMIEN POULLENOT
"Coming off the injury, I'm looking to build some type of rhythm," said Conlogue. "Next week, I'm going for it. I feel like a grom at heart right now. I'm surfing everyday and loving it. I'm excited for the Supergirl Pro over the weekend too. I'm taking it back to the simple roots of surfing and the joys of putting a jersey on. Don't get me wrong though, I'm down for the win."
The US Open has been running as a Championship Tour event in Huntington Beach for 24 years and 11 of those years, a competitor from the United States has won. Australia follows with 7 wins and then Hawaii with 3. So the odds are in Conlogue's favor here. With the current Jeep Leaderboard standings and an early exit in J-Bay, she has every reason to be motivated heading into next week. And a motivated Courtney Conlogue is a dangerous thing.