At the US Open of Surfing a person could walk around Huntington Beach for two hours and not have the slightest suspicion that one of the biggest surf contests in North America is unfolding just a hundred yards away. The scene at the beach seems like a scrambled batch of brightly colored tents, extravagant promotional campaigns, and extremely tan human beings slowly boiling together in the heat. Though it may be a difficult feat to accomplish, if one successfully wades through this swamp and reaches the oceanfront, they will receive a well-deserved treat: U.S. competitive surfing at its finest.
The final day of competition began with steel skies and sounds of Sublime as twelve surfers took to the water with dreams of conquest. Only one man could materialize these hopes, and this California mop-head was none other than Rob Machado. Machado took the title with four of the highest-scoring, crowd-pleasing heats of the day.
In the round of 12 Machado ousted Luke Munro by posting an 8.5 early in the heat, which was incidentally the third highest scoring wave of the day. His consistent surf in the choppy four to seven foot waves proved enough to advance to the quarters where he would face Josh Kerr in a no-holds barred assault on the Southside of the HB Pier.
Aussie Mick Campbell tallied the Round of 12’s biggest highlight with the only perfect ten of the contest. Right as the horn blew to kick-start his heat, Campbell fired down the face of an overhead righthander. With three vertical turns on the wave of the day, the crowd shook off the morning’s grogginess with huge cheers from the bleachers. To add to the excitement, Josh Kerr barely edged Timmy Curran by .57 in the same heat to proceed to the quarterfinal.
The first two quarterfinal heats were marked by what seemed like an hour long lull. Roy Powers overtook Tanio Baretto in a wave-starved thirty minutes, and in heat #2 the eighteen year old from Reunion Island, Jeremy Flores, upset current WCT no. 4, Bobby Martinez. Martinez spent much of the heat waiting patiently for a few quality waves that unfortunately never arrived.
The South swell and high action surf returned for Rob Machado’s showdown with aerial specialist Josh Kerr. Machado connected two winding lefts to the inside, and posted the second highest scoring wave of the day with an 8.67. The wave ended with Machado flying through the pilings of the pier and stamping the ride with a seal of approval by flicking his fro with Lopez-like style. With Machado wielding two solid scores, Kerr needed an 8 in the waning minutes. Kerr valiantly ripped his way through a set wave, but feel just half a point short as the air horn blasted.