HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Friday, July 24, 2009) – The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing saw ASP Dream Tour surfers capitalize on the increased six-to-eight foot (2 metre) surf on offer to post impressive scores. Reigning nine-time ASP World Tour surfer Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach , FL), 37, smashed the event’s highest heat total of 18.80 out of 20 in men’s competition while current ASP World Tour rookie and defending U.S. Open Champion Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard, CA), 24, posted the event’s first perfect 10-point-ride.
Surfers competing at the Hurley U.S. Open are not only looking to nab the valuable points on offer towards qualification for the 2010 ASP Dream Tour, but are also battling for the historic winner-take-all U.S.$100,000 prize purse.
Slater’s heat win came in dramatic fashion after he broke his board while attempting to complete a backside floater at the halfway point in the heat. The sweeping current from the solid south swell forced the icon the paddle through the pier pilings and retrieve a new board.
“It was action packed for sure,” Slater said. “I was out of order in the beginning, just couldn’t figure out what I was doing out there, and then I broke my board trying to hit the lip. When I hit the lip I felt my board pop and I thought maybe I could land it and get a score, but I felt it buckle and break on me. Then I had to swim through the pier with half of my board, and that was easy, but it’s like a trench over there, I couldn’t get in to the beach and I ended up just wasting a lot of time.”
Once back in the water, Slater earned two huge scores including a near perfect 9.67 for a beautiful carving-360 on a closeout section, launching him from third to first, claiming the heat win along with the highest heat total in the men’s Hurley U.S. Open.
“It’s weird because you can take off on a huge wave and get a 10,” Slater said. “You can find those little peaky ones and do five turns and only get a six or a seven, so it’s really about those bigger waves, but if you don’t make it you really waste a lot of time.”
Curran was awarded the first perfect 10-point-ride with an impressive backside barrel on a Huntington Beach lefthander and finished the wave off with a clean backside hook.
“It just kind of came out of nowhere,” Curran said. “It just kind of popped up and looked like a little Newport Wedge and I almost didn’t go. I decided to whip around at the last second and thought I’d try and get barreled, because it’s hard, it’s only one maneuver, so I’m stoked. I didn’t even know what the score was, I thought it was maybe a six and the guy on the ski told me it was a 10.”
Curran was not only thrilled with his perfect score, but was equally as happy to take advantage of the personal watercraft assistance on offer for all competitors today to eliminate the brutal paddles back out through the strong beachbreak current created by the solid swell.
“It’s so much easier,” Curran said. “It’s such a paddle that you can usually only get two or three waves and you’ve got to run up the beach, so it’s awesome that Hurley got the skis for us.”
Women’s Hurley U.S. Open Semifinalists were decided today and young defending event champion Malia Manuel (Wailua, HI), 15, continued her quest for a repeat crown when she ousted reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (Tweed Heads, AUS), 21, en route to her Semifinals berth. Local standout Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA), 16, put on an amazing performance in the bombing south swell conditions when she surfed a near-perfect heat of 19.63 out of 20, the highest of any division in this year’s Hurley U.S. Open.
Manuel got off to a quick start and was able to find two good scores to eventually take out the heat win over her idol, Gilmore. The reigning ASP Women’s World Champion was not able to find a rhythm in her heat and finished fifth overall at the Hurley U.S. Open.
“I thought Steph (Gilmore) would get that score easily,” Manuel said. “When I saw I was matched up against Steph in the Quarterfinals, I thought, wow, I’m surfing with my number one role model in women’s surfing. I respect her so much and it was amazing to be surfing against her.”
The young Hawaiian is not familiar with the man-on-man system utilized for ASP World Tour and premier ASP WQS events, but was able to quickly adapt from the four-man format she’s more familiar with to take out the win over her accomplished opponent.
“We had a really slow heat and it was tricky with the current and everything,” Manuel said. “If I were to go down to anyone in this contest I would have wanted it to be her. I’m really happy that it all pulled through because I’m not used to priority so I’m glad it all worked out for me.”
Conlogue, who is a rising Orange County local talent, surfed sensationally in her heat today and was awarded amazing scores with committed backside surfing to eliminate current ASP World Tour rookie Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, AUS), 18. Each of Conlogue’s nine-point-rides were earned with only one massive move on each wave.
“I’m pretty psyched right now, I can barely talk,” Conlogue said. “It’s so fun out there, I was just being me. I was definitely a bit nervous out there at the beginning going against Sally Fitzgibbons, because she can pull a nine out of nowhere. I knew I was going to have to do something spectacular to make her need that score and I was just out there having fun and catching the waves I wanted to catch.”
Hurley U.S. Open action will continue tomorrow with the Men’s ASP WQS Round of 16 before moving in to the women’s Semifinals heats. Women’s Hurley U.S. Open and Women’s Nike 6.0 Pro Junior Champions will be crowned by day’s end.
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Hurley U.S. Open Round of 24: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.00, Alain Riou (PYF) 13.10, Dustin Cuizon (HAW) 10.33
Heat 2: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 16.33, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.24, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 9.23
Heat 3: Eric Geiselman (USA) 14.60, Daniel Ross (AUS) 12.13, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 11.80
Heat 4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.23, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.84, Andy Irons (HAW) 12.67
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.04, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 9.93, Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.60
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.80, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 13.84, Granger Larsen (HAW) 7.83
Heat 7: Rob Machado (USA) 12.16, Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.93, Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 10.20
Heat 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.13, Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.83, Leigh Sedley (AUS) 13.77
Hurley U.S. Open Women’s Quarterfinals Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.23 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 6.17
Heat 2: Laura Enever (AUS) 14.17 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 5.77
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 19.63 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 8.07
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.67 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.46
Hurley U.S. Open Women’s Round of 12 Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.27, Laura Enever (AUS) 8.17, Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 3.17
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 9.73, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 5.87, Sayuri Hashimoto (JPN) 2.70
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.54, Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.64, Sage Erickson (USA) 10.20
Heat 4: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.60, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 8.33, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 7.44
U.S. Open Nike 6.0 Pro Junior Quarterfinals Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Nat Young (USA) 12.20, Tonino Benson (HAW) 11.80, Andrew Doheny (USA) 10.83, Evan Geiselman (USA) 7.67
Heat 2: Matt Pagan (USA) 11.77, Charles Martin (GLP) 10.14, Oliver Kurtz (USA) 7.16, Keanu Asing (HAW) 7.07