Words: David “Crappy” Campbell
Day two of the mens competition resumed on Tuesday, like it was always going to. We don’t do waiting, here in Huntington Beach. Waves have backed off a bit and are looking more like the normal Huntington slop, in the three to four foot range with some bigger sets, which doesn’t sound too bad, had the wind not come up early and made it crummy. The first two rounds of the US Open have the surfers fight it out in four man heats. There is no priority ruling, like in most WCT events, so whoever is closest to the peaking wave has right of way. First and second place move on, making this a major hasslefest where everyone is weary of interference calls – the tension could be cut with one of the bros’ Frisbee blades. It’s good for the fans and the fierce competition makes this look like your local with the top surfers duking it out for bragging rights. The bigger sets today only delivered one or two good ones, and only a couple take off zones, which makes it just right for a dogfight. The morning crowd looked a bit thin but filled out throughout the day as if in sync with when the wind comes up. Each day the crowd gets thicker, towards who knows what end – more lame dudes, more lovely ladies, more shopping, more spectacles, but most importantly, more surfing.
Damien Hobgood was upset by Marc Lacomare and Matt Banting, which he (Damo) didn’t like and broadcast to the crowd via his body language. With the priority situation like it is, and not so many waves to share around, you have to be a cold, cut throat, hell of a surfer to survive, and today Damo wasn’t. Josh Kerr and Perth Standlick were, as was Felipe Toledo, the latter’s spindly frame revelling in the mushy beachbreak conditions. Mitch Crews won easily, which is good because, having spoken to him, I really like the guy, good for you Mitch. Today Jadson Andre beat Chris Ward, and Chris Ward beat Gabriel Medina yesterday, which means that Jadson is again the Brazilian wonderkid, queue Twilight Zone music.
The entity that is this event is starting to really pump out some very exciting surfing. The attractions this monster puts forth from every angle try and grab at you from every which way they can: BMX! Shopping! Skateboarding! Babes! Silly Bros saying dumb shit about tattoos! But all these things seem to fade away when a serious heat comes up to bat; a serious crowd will appear just to show us that this beast likes a serious surf event. And appear it did when heat two of round two took the water with Julian Wilson vs Dane Reynolds vs Alex Ribeiro vs Willian Cardoso.
In true hipster fashion Dane’s focus from Monday seemed askew. He decided that the US Open was so last week that he went off to surf a more obscure event in his mind, an event that you had never heard of before and you don’t even know about (Note to Dane, these are Crappy’s words, not ours! We still love you Dane, call us! – Ed). Julian Wilson and Alex Ribeiro, however, showed the fuck up. Both looked very comfortable, especially Julian who showed us he is intent on stealing the title again (he won last year) with his day’s-best heat. He scored a 9.83 on his finishing wave, with a smooth backside no-grab 360 air to an oh-so-clean landing. Definitely the best single manoeuvre of the event thus far. He attached that to his second highest score, a nice left with some solid turns, to get a total heat score of 18.03. With Dane’s final heat total ending at 6.26 I was left wondering, “Had the Huntington beast grabbed him? Where was the Dane from yesterday?” Something happened it has seemed, does the beast have something to do with this? And is he, after this loss, now in the belly with the rest of us? Highly unlikely.
Here’s a fact: Everyone in Huntington loves Brett Simpson. We all knew how badly he needed to win a heat, and if there was a place he could secure it, it was the south side of the pier. Some consider him to be the best surfer to ever come out of HB, he has won here two years in a row (2009-2010), which is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Kelly and Dane may be the major attractions at this surf zoo but the real surf citizens of HB really want a hometown hero like Brett Simpson to win this, especially when he most needed it most. And win the heat he almost did, until an unfortunate fin snap, and suspected “charlie horse” on his thigh pushed him back to third, behind Michel Bourez and Miguel Pupo. Sorry Huntington Beach, sorry Simpo, we hope you bounce back from this one.
Vincent Duvignac was ranked 130th this morning, and was facing the last heat of the day up against Kelly Slater, Mitch Coleborn, and Nathaniel Curran. After the heat he would move into the top 100. Vincent probably didn’t have a snail’s chance in Paris of making this heat, but with mere minutes to go put himself on a screamer and into the lead. Kelly, relegated momentarily to second, sensed the desperation from highly ranked ‘QS stalwart, Coleborn, and previous winner (2008 Honda US Open), Nathaniel, and decided something was to be done. Needing a 6.12 and catching what seemed like a blocking wave, he took off too deep, floated long across a section, coming down only to jam a fierce whack right where one of the pier pylons should be (he must have willled it into another position), to shoot the pier and “Huntington Hop*” his way to the reform on the north side of the pier, which he took apart with a series of small, yet clean, turns all the way to the beach. The north side security weren’t ready for the stampede towards the surfing legend, and all the tears for Simpo were forgotten when the true crowd favourite, the beast master, made his way through his creation toward the surf stadium. While Julian is reigning champion, and posted the day’s best scores, the event is still Kelly’s to lose.
*The ugly tic-tac manoeuvre that links the outside to the in down here at Surf City, has won and lost heats in the past.