The opening rounds of the World Surf League (WSL) Menâ€™s Qualifying Series (QS) Vans US Open of Surfing QS 10,000 ripped into action at the famed Huntington Beach Pier. Four-to-five foot (1.5 – 2 metres) swell filled into the pier and competitors reveled in the conditions on offer with high-performance surfing throughout the day. Rounds 1 and 2 (Heats 1 – 8) were contested with top seeds beginning to make their debuts in defining fashion.
Championship Tour (CT) veteran Jeremy Flores (FRA) went to work as soon as the opening horn sounded. The Frenchman blasted two massive backhand attacks on one of the bigger set waves that came through Huntington Beachâ€™s lineup in critical sections that earned him a near-perfect 9.17 (out of a possible 10). The single-scoring wave was the highest of today along with his excellent 16.20 (out of a possible 20) heat total that rocketed him into Round 3 in great form. Flores continually returns to Huntington and has posted some memorable results, but has not earned better than an equal 13th since 2010. Flores will work to find his rhythm this year and break through to the Final series.
â€œIâ€™ve been coming here for a while now and already made that Final with CJ [Hobgood] and had some good results when I was 16, 17, and 18 years-old, but the last five years Iâ€™ve barely made any heats,â€ Flores said. â€œIâ€™m just trying to take it differently this year and I havenâ€™t had time to surf this wave in recent years, so Iâ€™d rather not surf it until my heats. That was my strategy coming in and it worked out in that first heat. When it comes to a break you may not surf well at this point in your career, I think itâ€™s best to not surf it and just keep that energy for the competition. Itâ€™d be amazing to win here with all the legends who have already gotten titles and I remember growing up watching this event with all the best surfers winning here.â€
2016 Vans US Open of Surfing runner-up Ethan Ewing (AUS) found his form at Huntington once again with a massive backhand smash on the outside and finished his efforts in shallow waters for an excellent 8.47. The 18-year-old hasnâ€™t found any results during his rookie year on the Championship Tour (CT) and will have to shift his focus toward the QS for re-qualification. But, heâ€™s never one to count out, especially at the beachbreak that help propel him toward CT qualification last year.