Nathaniel Curran Wins The 2008 US Open

CONDITIONS: Waist to head with a light onshore flow (for Huntington). Textbook HB reforms on almost every set wave.
EVENTS HELD: Mens Round of 16 through Finals, Corona SUP Surf Challenge, US Open Junior Pro Final, Longboard Final ... a promo bag full of other action sports exhibitions
NATURE'S CALL: So you were really convinced that HB was a waveless, wind-chopped, over-hyped surf spot? Well, you're only half right. Finally, waves. Good ones. Seriously!
PREDICTION: Forget all the Florida boys on the 'CT, Southern California's up-and-comers are about to take over the ranks.

Ah, yes, the US Open. So much history, so many years, so much tradition, so many memories. From boob flashes and rioting and filthy reputations to teeny-bopper cheerleaders rallying throngs of moms, dads, kids, OC socialites and the occasional chipper junky, this crown jewel of competitive surfing history has (pardon the phrase) seen it all, defying the typical ill-fate of so many other sub par WQS tournaments that have come and gone in its time.

Perhaps the only consistency in this now-behemoth event is a lack of surf. But not this year. Yep, this time around the Huntington Hop was replaced with the air reverse. The foam climb with the 10-yard, high velocity floater. The pissed competitive glare with the content 'at least I got some good ones' shrug. So, while the only rebellious activity on hand today was a couple of groms sneak-pegging unsuspecting Mid-Western tourists with beach balls, there were plenty of memories made and another set of champions crowned. Here's the deal:


Lucky for the Junior Pro boys today, they went first. It was a final that pitted an electrifying contingent of the world's best surfers - Australia's mini/mega-Taj Julian Wilson; 2008 NSSA Open Mens Champ Nat Young of Santa Cruz, CA; San Clemente's Tanner Gadauskas; and Australia's Chris Salisbury. With speed, precision and aerial shenanigan's that were arguably superior to the ranks of the Pro division, not one of these four soon-to-be superstars failed to get the crowd roaring.

But, it was Tanner that blazed best. With two heavy scores that touched off with air reverses and ended in speed blur snaps, Tanner silenced the typically unstoppable Wilson, who held the lead from early on.

"That was pretty sick, it was my first chair," Tanner said, describing his very first victory lift up the beach from brothers Pat and Dane. "And the final was so good, so I just tried my hardest and here I am." Here you are indeed young man, $2,500 bones the richer and squarely on top of the amateur surfing world.


From 192 surfers kicking off the Mens division almost a week ago, we were left with just 16 to battle it out in the semi-walled lefts and reform rights driving into South Side this morning. Early on, it was clear that local boy Brett Simpson was in the running, as he displayed a noticeably keen sense for picking and linking the very best - and high scoring - heat waves. WCT rookie Gabe Kling put his Florida skills to work in the tricky stuff and spun together a few memorable shwack-to-float-to-shwack's. But it was Kling's final second attack and winning wave by ten one hundredths of a point in his Quarter Final heat against Frenchman Joan Duru (12.17 to Duru's 12.16) that got the crowd stirring.

And that wasn't the only nail-biting French/American battle royale. Simpson faced off with Duru's fellow countryman Tim Boal in Semi 1 and until the final seconds, had the entire HB beach mob cheering their homeboy's finals berth. Not so fast says the Boal Man. On the hooter, Boal did his best Simpson impression and chopped one to the sand, snagging enough points to oust Simpson and secure a seat in the final, much to the sporadic boo's and hisses trickling through the grandstands. Finally, with no buzzer beaters or hometown street cred, Oxnard CA's Nathanial Curran quietly dissected his way through everyone in his path, including an amping Kling in their Semi Final match up.

So, there it was: Curran vs. Boal - a French/American clash repeat (last year it was {{{CJ}}} Hobgood and Jeremy Flores). As if fearing its rebellious break from tradition, however, Huntington Beach decided to keep things consistent and turn the wave switch off. The thousands of spectators sweating, burning and pushing each other to the side for a peak at some high action under the scorching mid-day sun witnessed exactly the opposite, as high tide beveled the south swell into a soft roll. The epic battle of the country's turned into a pillow fight as Nathanial Curran found the right ones and nailed down his first major victory, leaving the clock and Mother Nature handle Boal. Wa-waa-waaaa.

"I was watching the heats before [the final] and I knew the tide was coming up," Curran said on stage, after claiming fifteen thousand bucks, 2,500 point and the number one spot on the current QS rankings. "So I just wanted to get a quick start because I know how flat it gets out there sometimes. My secret was to just line up with the spot where everyone runs out of the scaffolding for their heats."

Once again, strategy wins the US Open. Tradition upheld. Dreams come true and memories sealed. See ya back here next year.

Full Results:

1 - Nathaniel Curran (USA)
2 - Tim Boal (FRA)

Semifinals (1st advances)
Semifinal 1: Tim Boal (FRA) 12.00 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 11.93
Semifinal 2: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 14.00 def. Gabe Kling (USA) 11.27

Quarterfinals (1st advances)
Quarterfinal 1: Tim Boal (FRA) 15.93 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.34
Quarterfinal 2: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.00 def. Eric Geiselman (USA) 11.76
Quarterfinal 3: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 15.66 def. Chris Waring (USA) 10.53
Quarterfinal 4: Gabe Kling (USA) 12.17 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 12.16

Round of 16 (1st advances)
Heat 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.13 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 8.16
Heat 2: Tim Boal (FRA) 12.84 def. Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) 6.10
Heat 3: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.17 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 14.34
Heat 4: Eric Geiselman (USA) 15.17 def. Dane Gudauskas (USA) 9.67
Heat 5: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 17.{{{57}}} def. Roy Powers (HAW) 9.83
Heat 6: Chris Waring (USA) 15.17 def. Torrey Meister (HAW) 9.97
Heat 7: Gabe Kling (USA) 15.94 def. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 13.17
Heat 8: Joan Duru (USA) 14.66 def. Marlon Lipke (DEU) 12.50

O'Neill U.S. Open Pro Junior presented by {{{Honda}}} Results:
1 - Tanner Gudauskas (USA)
2 - Julian Wilson (AUS)
3 - Chris Salisbury (AUS)
4 - Nat Young (USA)

O'Neill U.S. Open of Longboarding presented by Honda Results:
1 - Taylor Jensen (USA)
2 - Tony Silvagni (USA)
3 - Ned Snow (HAW)
4 - Noah Shimabukuro (USA)