A lot of the top surfers have been knocked out of the Nike US Open at Huntington Beach in conditions that have been far from perfect.
96 surfers are battling in one-to-three foot waves to progress through the ASP Prime event and gain valuable points before the upcoming mid-season World Tour cut-off, but the big upsets are that despite their excellent performances at the Billabong Pro J-Bay, Ace Buchan, Matt Wilkinson, Michel Bourez, Damien Hobgood, Dan Ross and Kai Otton were knocked out of the Open after failing to make the top two in their four-man heats.
This leaves the field wide open for up-and-comers to come through although Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning, Josh Kerr, Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds, Julian Wilson and Adam Melling all posted top scores in their heats and are through, as is Jack Freestone who has stepped up to the seniors from the Pro Juniors last year.
Burrows enjoyed some fierce competition against the newcomers in his heat. “I luckily started with a pretty decent wave out the back and finished up in the shore-pound,” he said. “It’s great surfing against the young guys. They’re so high-fi out there. They’re really light on their feet and can do every trick in the book, I love it. I want to go out there and mix it up with them in these small little waves. It’s always a challenge and I love surfing with those guys.”
This is the last ASP Prime contest before the midyear cut-off for the elite ASP World Title Series, making the event crucial for surfers’ qualification campaigns for the back half of the year.
17 year old Brazilian, Gabriel Medina, is in an excellent position to join the elite ASP Top 34 at the midyear cut and is trying not to let the pressure get to him. He is currently placed 19th on the ASP World Ranking and got two 8’s in his heats which got him through to the next round.
The day’s highest single-wave score of 8.93 was achieved by New Zealander Richard Christie.
The women’s Nike US Open of Surfing runs alongside the men’s ASP PRIME event as well as men’s and women’s ASP Pro Junior competitions. Of course their surfing conditions were just as difficult, but the crowds were treated to some explosive performances with both the World’s #1 and #2 Title holders, Carissa Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons, going through.