A vital day of competition unfolded at the Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch, a World Surf League (WSL) Men’s and Women’s Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 event, and one of the largest action sports festivals in the world, in two-to-four foot (1 – 1.5 metre) swell to determine Quarterfinalists. The event lost some of its top-tier contenders and event favorites along the way including opening day’s standout Seth Moniz (HAW) and former CT competitor Caio Ibelli (BRA) in Round 4, but none more stunning than defending back-to-back event winner Kanoa Igarashi (JPN).
The hometown hero was eliminated at the hands of an in-form Barron Mamiya (HAW) and Liam O’Brien (AUS) on their way to a Round 5 appearance. Mamiya put the final stamp on the heat with a 6.23 (out of a possible 10) just before the ten-minute mark and before the ocean slowed down to offer little opportunity as the final horn sounded. The Oahu, Hawaii, native currently sits at No. 11 and now finds himself into the Quarterfinals at this event, following a Round 5 victory, for a shot at 10,000 points on finals day.
“Coming up against Kanoa I knew he was back-to-back champ but I want to make the CT and if I can’t surf against guys like him, I won’t be getting there,” Mamiya said. “I just went into it knowing that and just wanted to my thing. That’s what my Shaun Ward mentioned to me and I’m really excited to see it happen. I honestly don’t look at the rankings anymore just because I did that last year and would lose (laughs).”
Igarashi took this loss with great perspective, as he currently sits at No. 5 on the Championship Tour (CT), but felt the sting of not being able to secure a three-peat in front of his hometown crowd.
“The title’s going to leave Huntington this year but it was just a tricky heat with the tide coming up fast and not being able to find the wave I was looking for,” Igarashi said. “Staying next to your competitor is part of the competition and I thought it was great Liam did that. When it’s not firing out there every wave is super important and he was just following me around — I probably would’ve done the same thing if I was at his home break. But that got me excited to compete and it was just a really good heat.”
O’Brien wasn’t done yet and put one of the world’s best Jack Freestone (AUS) against the ropes throughout their Round 5 bout until the final horn and eliminated the CT competitor. The former World Junior Championship contender and Burleigh Heads, Australia, local currently sits at No. 55 on the QS and is looking to leap the herd following this result. This is the first real chance at getting into the major events for O’Brien after managing to finish No. 96 on the rankings at the end of 2018 by getting an alternate spot into the Triple Crown and now he’s looking to capitalize.
“This is by far my best result in the bigger competitions so I’m just learning from every experience I get and to make a few heats is unreal,” O’Brien said. “I’m not to sure what I’ll do to step it up in the Quarters (laughs). I’ll probably just stick to my plan and if it comes to it maybe try an air or something, but hopefully sticking to my guns works out. The goal is to qualify but I haven’t even thought on it too much and just want to give it everything.”
Last year’s runner-up Griffin Colapinto (USA) posted an excellent 8.93 (out of a possible 10) in Round 4 and sees his opportunity to take the event down as the last American standing. But, the San Clemente, California, native got a scare from Luel Felipe (BRA) in Round 5 as the two found whatever opportunities they could with Felipe holding the advantage into the last five-minutes. Colapinto’s composure garnered from his CT experience came into play and he opened up on his backhand in the final three-minutes to garner a 7.83 to turn the heat.
“That last win was huge for me and I haven’t had to come back like that in a while but it’s the best feeling ever when you do,” Colapinto said. “It was hard mentally because I fell on the wave before trying for the blow-tail and just really had to pull it together in the end. It’s great to be the last American but I wish some of my friends were still going. They’re down here supporting me which is amazing and I’m representing more for them than anything else at this one.”
Former CT competitor Alex Ribeiro (BRA) took down an all-Brasilian affair over fellow qualification threat Krystian Kymerson (BRA) to start Round 5 proceedings, but their countryman Yago Dora (BRA) broke through to the Quarterfinals for the first time in a QS 10,000 and came in from the water with pure elation. Dora had to overcome one of the QS’s top qualification threats each year, Evan Geiselman (USA), in a highly-anticipated battle. In the end, it was Dora’s signature aerial antics and powerful rail game that overtook the Floridian.
“It feels amazing, I think that’s my best result at QS 10,000 — I’ve made it to the Round of 16 but never to the Quarters,” Dora said. “I feel really good and confident, and having fun surfing the way I like to. My heat earlier had a lower tide and no wind so it was really glassy so I liked the little bit of texture that was on the water in my last heat, but I know I couldn’t make any mistakes against Evan. He’s a really good surfer so I knew I had to go big on my maneuvers and finish the waves off.”
Qualification threat Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) leads a list of noteworthy performances with a near-perfect 9.00, joining 2015 WSL Champion Adriano De Souza (BRA) on a buzzer-beater and former CT competitor and Connor O’Leary (AUS).
An incredible day wrapped up with the Rising Tide initiative sending nearly 30 young women out into the lineup that included local groms alongside some of the world’s best and emerging talents. The likes of defending Vans US Open winner Courtney Conlogue (USA), reigning World Junior Champion Kirra Pinkerton (USA), recent Super Girl Pro winner Samantha Sibley (USA) joined Super Girl Pro Adaptive Heat winner Olivia Stone (USA) along with Pro Junior talents Serena Nava (USA), Makena Burke (USA) and a plethora of young women helping the progression of women’s surfing to push it up to the next level. This initiative has inspired women around the world at each of the CT stops so far in 2019 and fans on the beach in Huntington Beach helped urged them on with applause and cheers.
The Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch will resume tomorrow, Saturday, August 3, at 7:30 a.m. PT in Huntington Beach. The event will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and Facebook.com/WSL. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners.
Alongside the surfing, the Vans US Open of Surfing also hosts skateboarding and BMX competitions alongside authentic community activations and artful entertainment in Surf City USA.
Recognized as the largest professional sports competition and action sports festival in the world, the Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch is currently sanctioned and operated by the World Surf League under license from IMG, the event owner. Official partners of this year’s event include Vans, Swatch, Jeep, ULTRA, Red Bull, Jose Cuervo, Barefoot Wine, Hydro Flask, Harley-Davidson, Polo Blue, BF Goodrich, CLIF Bar, and Frontier Communications.
Upcoming Vans US Open of Surfing pres. by Swatch Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Alex Ribeiro (BRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
QF 2: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)
QF 3: Liam O’Brien (AUS) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW)
QF 4: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Adriano De Souza (BRA)
Vans US Open of Surfing pres. by Swatch Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 11.57 DEF. Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 9.97
Heat 2: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.83 DEF. Charly Martin (FRA) 11.13
Heat 3: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.77 DEF. Evan Geiselman (USA) 12.10
Heat 4: Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 11.16 DEF. Kalani Ball (AUS) 9.56
Heat 5: Liam O’Brien (AUS) 13.34 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 12.03
Heat 6: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.03 DEF. Weslley Dantas (BRA) 8.80
Heat 7: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.13 DEF. Luel Felipe (BRA) 11.16
Heat 8: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 11.67 DEF. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 11.33
Vans US Open of Surfing pres. by Swatch Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Krystian Kymerson (BRA) 11.83, Charly Martin (FRA) 10.57, Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.90
Heat 2: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.43, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 10.24, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 9.00
Heat 3: Evan Geiselman (USA) 12.77, Kalani Ball (AUS) 12.43, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 8.43
Heat 4: Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 14.97, Yago Dora (BRA) 14.43, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.43
Heat 5: Jack Freestone (AUS) 13.23, Weslley Dantas (BRA) 10.53, Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 10.23
Heat 6: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.97, Liam O’Brien (AUS) 12.26, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.77
Heat 7: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 16.06, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 11.63, Mateus Herdy (JPN) 9.44
Heat 8: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 13.50, Luel Felipe (BRA) 13.03, Conner Coffin (USA) 11.17