Photos by Jimmicane
The US Open is sensory overload. Two-story scaffoldings hover above you featuring the face of their brands. Kolohe Andino was larger than life. He must have been riding at least an 11'4". Airplanes are whizzing around overhead – their brand message prominently displayed to woo an unassuming victim. Preachers are preaching. Marijuana advocates were - well, happppppy. Cars were gridlocked. And the sea of humans on the sand were awestruck by every attempted maneuver from local boy Brett Simpson. The will of the people weren't going to have it any other way. Brett had already won the contest weeks before it had started.
Featured in every news publication in Southern California in the weeks leading up to the US Open, Brett Simpson was touted as the man to beat. Local support, natural ability, and thousands of hours put in at the Southside of the Pier was everything Brett needed to double down on his stellar performance last year.
The morning of the final day started off slow. A long period and weakening South swell resulted in very inconsistent scoring waves. This gave the peanut gallery in the VIP area the time needed to discuss and evaluate every move – watch multiple replays and score the heat as if we were top-tier judges. Often, we were spot on. Maybe we have a future on the judging panel. Probably not.
In the first semi final - Jordy Smith vs. Mick Fanning - Jordy got to work early while Mick Fanning patiently waited. Jordy rode smaller waves with ease. With Jordy as a leading example, we've had to throw out the preconception that smaller humans = better small wave surfers. Jordy advances. Could he make it three ASP wins in a row?
Last month in J Bay, Kelly Slater lost to local wildcard Sean Holmes by a mere .04 points. This month at the US Open, he loses to local phenom Brett Simpson by .04. Mental strength will be tested.
In the second semi final - Kelly Slater vs. Brett Simpson - the heat started off with a split of the peak. Kelly going right and Brett left. Brett gets the better of the exchange, a 6.5 on a steeper left hander. Kelly a 5.5. Brett Simpson retains priority and secures another quality score of a 6.87, much to the escalating excitement of the crowd. Kelly follows up with one of the biggest waves of the heat and completes it in the inside shore break with a backside 360 floating reentry. At least that's what Rockin' Fig on the mic called it. Kelly comes up just short. Again.
The Mens Pro Junior is up next. It's a USA vs Brazil battle - Evan Geiselman and Kolohe Andino representing the red, white and blue while Alejo Muniz and Miguel Pupo the green and yellow. Evan opens his final with an 8.0 displaying his mastery of aerials and technical surfing. Alejo makes a run for the title but comes up just short. Evan Geiselman is the Pro Junior Champion.
The Mens final was a different story. Brett Simpson flowed effortlessly through Huntington Beach's flat spots and warbles, while Jordy Smith had trouble putting together a complete wave. After the commencing of the final, Brett was mobbed in knee deep water by friends, family, fans, and security guards. Hoisted onto their shoulders, Brett looked like he was at a concert crowd surfing back to the stage. He thanked everybody for their support. He noted this just might be the confidence boost he needed to help him get in a requalifying position for the mid-year cut off on the World Tour. He's stoked. He lived up to the crowds expectations. He's $100,000 richer.