The Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O'Neill kicked off Round 2 competition this morning in improved two to four foot South swell at Huntington Beach Pier.
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star event enjoyed sunny skies and huge scores as competitors let loose in the improved, peaky conditions.
Adam Robertson (Victoria, AUS), current No. 93 on the ASP WQS, posted the biggest heat score of the day with a 16.24 out of a possible 20. The powerful natural-footer looked limber and fit as he man-handled the punchy beachbreak peaks.
“The conditions today are much improved over the last few days,” Robertson said. “Still not the greatest waves, but I think the swell is picking up and it just feels good to get into the next round. I'm sitting at 93 right now on the 'QS so I need to get a solid result in the next few events if I'm to make a run at the World Tour.”
Darren O'Rafferty (Coff's Harbor, AUS), former elite Foster's ASP World Tour competitor and current No. 88 on the ASP WQS, was another Australian who highlighted the day's activities, smashing a bowly righthander to grab the event high single-wave score of a 9.50 out of a possible 10.
“Stoked to grab that one and it had a bit more of a wall on it so I was able to really open up on a few turns, O'Rafferty said. “Didnt know it was going to be as high as it was, but the turns were committed so I think the judges really rewarded that.”
Other standout high-scorers for the day included Chris Davidson (Narrabeen, AUS) with a 9.33 and Nathan Yeomans (San Clemente, CA) with a 9.23.
Adrian Buchan (Avoca Beach, AUS), current No. 20 on the elite Foster's ASP World Tour, showed the rest of the draw just what surfing amongst the world's best will do to your form, racking up an impressive 16.10 out of a possible 20 in his early morning heat.
“It's pretty fun for Huntington today,” Buchan said. “I was talking to a few of the guys and they were saying it's the best it's been in a few days. You can't complain though. The waves are really rippable and the water is warm.”
Last year's U.S. Open was Buchan's first event back in the water following a serious ankle injury that prevented him from really digging into his rookie season on the Dream Tour. One year since, Buchan is back to full strength and looking sharper than ever.
“It's been a full year, almost to the day, that I got back in my first heat since the injury,” Buchan said. “My foot feels 100% better now and I'm really grateful for that. It took a while to get all my confidence back up, but now it's back to normal and I've never felt stronger. I'm really hoping for a good result here.”
Josh Fuller (Gold Coast, AUS – North Shore, HI), one of the eight surfers to advance to the main event through the Trials, continued his incredible run through Round 2 of the main event today.
“It's great to be in the main event as a lot of times you get to the round right before and miss out when the waves improve,” Fuller said. “I think it's good to surf through the Trials and get used to the break. I'm stoked that I'm still in it and I hope to get through a few more heats. I'm really looking to build my seed before Hawaii because that's where I'm focusing on this year.”
Fuller joins Greg Cordeiro (Santa Catarina, BRA) and Granger Larsen (Lahaina, HAW) as the remaining trialists left in the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O'Neill.
Sunny Garcia (North Shore, HI), former ASP World Champion (2000), competed in his first ASP-sanctioned event since his incarceration last January. The legendary natural-footer delivered on the excitement surrounding his much-anticipated return to competition with one of the most exhilarating heats of the day.
Down with moments to go, Garcia tore into a set righthander with reckless abandon and patented power gouges garnering huge applause from the thousands in attendance. The wave bolted Garcia from third to first, however the lead was to exchange hands twice more in the last 15 seconds leaving the Hawaiian back in third. Unfortunately out of U.S. Open competition, fans can expect to see much more of Garcia in the coming months.
Tomorrow will see the girls hit the water for the opening round of the ASP WQS 6-Star Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O'Neill. Elite tour standouts such as Sofia Mulanovich (Lima, PER) and Jessi Miley-Dyer (Sydney, AUS) will be squaring off against standout North American talents Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA), Anastasia Ashley (San Clemente, CA) and Christa Alves (Cocoa Beach, FL).
Surfline, official forecasters for the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O'Neill, have called for the surf to continue with modest improvements throughout the week, the result of Tropical Storm Dalila.
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