The 2013 ASP Prime Vans US Open of Surfing kicked off in pulsing four-to-six foot (1.5 metre) waves at Huntington Beach Pier with several ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) surfers leading the day’s highlights with dominant Round 1 performances.
Kelly Slater (USA), 41, 11-time ASP World Champion, reveled in the windy afternoon conditions, notching the day’s high scores with surgical wave selection. The iconic regular-footer took to the lefts breaking in to the Pier, earning an 8.00 for a committed backhand tube, backing the ride up with the day’s high single-wave score of 8.67 for several polished backhand turns.
“There are a few barrels out there,” Slater said. “There’s a lot going on and it’s a busy week and you kind of hope for those morning glassy heats, especially when there’s some swell. There’s some energy out there now, but it’s really windy so you’ve got to wait for the second, third or fourth wave and that’s where I got that barrel.”
Slater, two-time US Open of Surfing Champion, admitted that the combination of competitive icons, the next generation and energy from the packed crowd makes the Vans US Open of Surfing incomparable to any other competition throughout the season.
“This event has a long history,” Slater said “You get the best juniors, best pros and it’s one of the best fields of the year as far as Primes go,” Slater said. “It’s a competitive contest. You get guys that you don’t see in lots of contests and they’ll do well, young guys busting big airs and then the crowds can be intimidating, but you get used to it after awhile.”
Michel Bourez (PYF), 27, current ASP WCT No. 8, stormed through his opening heat at the Vans US Open of Surfing, unloading powerful backhand combinations to take an impressive 16.00 heat total. The talented Tahitian enters the event with a relaxed approach following a successful first half among the ASP Top 34 and is out to enjoy this week’s festivities.
“I’m just back from Bali and waves were amazing over there,” Bourez said. “The waves were amazing out here for my heat too. Following Bali, I went home and was training at a beachbreak to get used to similar conditions and it worked well. I’m just here to have fun, see my sponsors and surf this event, it’s one of the biggest of the year and also to see the crowd.”
Julian Wilson (AUS), 24, defending event champion, started his Vans US Open of Surfing campaign in strong form with a commanding Round 1 victory. The talented natural-footer took to the rights during his early-morning heat, earning a 14.77 heat total to secure the win.
“I felt pretty good, but I didn’t feel in synch with the waves,” Wilson said. “With 30 minutes, I knew there would be plenty of waves and I knew I’d get my chances. My board feels really good and I knew that if I got two fun rights I could make scores. Kanoa (Igarashi) surfed really well for a young guy and put some pressure on, Wiggolly (Dantas) got a score and Jonathan Gonzalez as well, so it was a tough heat. There was plenty of opportunity out there and it’s good to get that heat out of the way coming back to defend the title.”
Jadson Andre (BRA), 23, perennial standout at Huntington Beach Pier, put in a strong opening performance at the Vans US Open of Surfing, eliminating ASP WCT talent Adam Melling (AUS), 28, with a powerful backhand attack.
“I was looking for the big sets close to the pier,” Andre said. “Some of the rights are good and I knew it was going to be a hard first round. It’s all about being on the set waves and Huntington is a tough place to compete. We saw it in Adriano’s (de Souza) heat and I wanted to make sure I was on the good waves. I’ve been spending a lot of time here, I always stay with friend here and I love Huntington.”
Andre, current No. 25 on the rankings, suffered an injury plagued 2012 season, failing to requalify for the 2013 ASP Top 34. The progressive Brazilian has been blitzing the ASP Qualifying Series upon his return to health this year and knows a top result at the Vans US Open of Surfing is crucial in his attempt of rejoining next year’s elite.
“This event means a lot to me,” Andre said. I’ve been training a lot to get back on tour. Last year was a hard year for me. I had three injuries and wasn’t able to requalify. I’m getting stronger and learning from my mistakes. There are five Primes left and every single one is really important. I hope I can do well.”
Chris Ward (San Clemente, CA), 34, former five-year ASP WCT veteran, issued the day’s biggest upset, besting current ASP World No. 6 Adriano de Souza (BRA), 26, who advanced in second while eliminating Gabriel Medina (BRA), 19.
“It’s my second time riding this board and it felt really good yesterday, and I rode it in my heat this morning and had to get used to it,” Ward said. “I adjusted to the board during the heat and got my waves. I got one lined up wave and just tried to do what I could and surf well. I had a slow start, but it all came together in the end. It was a slow heat for everyone.”
Tomorrow’s Vans US Open of Surfing schedule will see the men’s ASP Prime competition kick off at 7:30am local time followed by Round 1 of the ASP Women’s WCT. Watch the action LIVE via usopenofsurfing.com/surf
In addition to all of the ASP action, the 2013 Vans US Open is a massive action sports festival that will also include the Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational, BMX and Skate Competitions, performances from Modest Mouse, The Faint, Matt Costa and more.