HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Monday, July 20, 2009) – The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing ran the first 18 heats of the Round of 144 and saw Santa Cruz standout Nat Young, 18, crush the event’s highest scores en route to his Round of 96 berth. Reigning ASP World Junior Champion Kai Barger (Haiku, HI), 19, also displayed an impressive performance on the way to his heat win.
All surfers competing at this year’s Hurley U.S. Open are not only looking to take advantage of the crucial ratings points on offer towards qualification for a spot on the 2010 ASP World Tour, but are also out to claim the historic winner-take-all US$100,000 prize purse which Hurley has put up for this year’s main event winner.
Young utilized his deadly backhand attack on a Huntington righthander to blast the event’s top single wave score of 9.47 out of 10 with three massive beyond-vertical turns. The Santa Cruz standout attached the near-perfect score with an additional impressive forehand ride to earn the highest heat total of the day as well, a 16.23 out of 20.
“The waves are really fun and I kind of sat off by myself a little bit,” Young said. “There are waves coming in everywhere and it’s just who gets the waves. Luckily they came to me. On that nine, it was a nice peaky one that wasn’t too closed out. I did three turns and I think it was one of the bigger waves, so that’s probably why it was a good score.”
The lightning-fast goofy-footer is often a standout in both the ASP Pro Junior and ASP WQS events and he’s hoping that he can use the momentum built in Saturday’s ASP Pro Junior competition to help him succeed in both the Hurley U.S. Open and U.S. Open Nike 6.0 Pro Junior.
“I like surfing a lot of heats in contests,” Young said. “I don’t really get too tired and I feel like the more heats I surf, the more momentum I can build throughout the events. Hopefully I can do well in both this ‘QS and the Junior.”
Young will face a brutally tough heat in the Round of 96 when he faces off against former ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia (Oahu, HI), 39, current ASP World No. 5 Damien Hobgood (Satellite Beach, FL), 29, and former ASP World Junior runner-up Tonino Benson (Kona, HI), 17.
Dane Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 23, was another goofy-footer to issue a vicious backhand attack at South Huntington Beach Pier today, earning a solid 15.10 heat total to take his opening Hurley U.S. Open heat win. After struggling through the last few events on The Grind, Guduaskas was satisfied with his advancement into the Round of 96.
“I knew it was going to be a really hard heat,” Gudauskas said. “Everyone surfs really well out there and the conditions are kind of tricky. There are a bunch of random peaks and it’s kind of shifty. I was just stoked to get that one good score and get my rhythm going. I haven’t made my heats in the last few contests and it felt good to get that one under my belt.”
The San Clemente local has just flown back to the states after competing in two ASP 6-Star events in Brazil and spent the day recovering yesterday before hopping back in to competition mode today.
“I had a really great day with my friends in San Clemente yesterday,” Gudauskas said. “I surfed all day and got really sunburned, but it was just what I needed and it’s always great when you feel at home.”
Barger was able to capitalize on the tough afternoon conditions to take out a victory over former ASP World Tour veteran Nathan Hedge (Narrabeen, AUS), 30, and fellow Hawaiians Jason Shibata (Oahu, HI), and Makuakai Rothman (Sunset Beach, HI). The explosive talent utilized a single critical maneuver on each of his two scoring waves to take the heat win, including a massive frontside reverse as well as a solid forehand aerial to take out the win.
“When it’s that tough out there you’ve kind of just got to rely on one maneuver,” Barger said. “It’s all about a good fast takeoff and launching off one turn or air if you can. It’s do-or-die for anyone, so whether I’ve got my friends or heroes out there it doesn’t really matter because there’s US$100,000 on the line and everyone’s got to do what they’ve got to do.”
The current ASP World Junior Champion is capitalizing on his Round of 144 seed earned from his win in Narrabeen, Australia and is out to climb the ratings on the ASP WQS.
“I’ve got a 144 seed in to every 6-Star event this year, so I’m just going to do them all,” Barger said. “It’s really great because it’s my first year and I don’t really have much to lose so I just swing away.”
Tomorrow’s action will pick up with Heat 19 of the Round of 144 before the event’s top seeds hit the water in the Round of 96. For all of your Hurley U.S. Open inquiries log on to www.usopenofsurfing.com
For additional ASP information check out www.aspworldtour.com or www.aspnorthamerica.org
Hurley U.S. Open Round of 144 Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Paulo Moura (BRA) 9.60, Dylan Melamed (HAW) 9.17, Matt Pagan (USA) 9.00, Darrell Goodrum (USA) 5.73
Heat 2: Bobby Hansen (NZL) 13.40, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 10.50, Micah Byrne (USA) 10.10, Ricky Whitlock (USA) 7.74
Heat 3: Dane Gudauskas (USA) 15.10, Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 13.17, Nathan Carroll (HAW) 11.97, Sean Marceron (USA) 9.60
Heat 4: Kieran Horn (USA) 15.90, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.83, Evan Valiere (HAW) 8.00, Devon Tresher (USA) 6.97
Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) 16.23, Marco Polo (BRA) 11.57, Shaun Burrell (USA) 10.17, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.46
Heat 6: Blake Howard (USA) 13.34, Tonino Benson (HAW) 12.13, Shaun Ward (USA) 11.90, Justin McBride (USA) 9.13
Heat 7: T.J. Barron (HAW) 12.70, Alain Riou (PYF) 12.40, Dillon Perillo (USA) 12.33, Chad Compton (USA) 5.60
Heat 8: Cory Lopez (USA) 11.54, Casey Brown (HAW) 10.00, Richie Collins (USA) 7.70, Paul Fisher (AUS) 1.67
Heat 9: Evan Geiselman (USA) 11.30, Charles Martin (GLP) 11.27, James Taipan Wood (AUS) 10.30, Nick White (NZL) 5.00
Heat 10: Corey Ziems (AUS) 13.67, Rudy Palmboom (ZAF) 10.53, Dylan Graves (PRI) 10.50, Tommy O’Brien (USA) 10.34
Heat 11: Eric Geiselman (USA) 14.66, Asher Nolan (USA) 11.84, Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) 10.56, Kyle Knox (USA) 10.34
Heat 12: Kiron Jabour (HAW) 13.83, Luke Munro (AUS) 8.93, Kellen Ellison (USA) 8.37, Matt Mohagen (USA) 6.60
Heat 13: Travis Logie (ZAF) 14.33, Jason Harris (USA) 9.17, Ola Eleogram (HAW) 9.10, Jesse Heilman (USA) 9.00
Heat 14: Granger Larsen (HAW) 11.67, Noi Kaulukukui (USA) 11.46, Hugo Savalli (REU) 10.03, Travis Mellem (USA) 9.23
Heat 15: Anthony Petruso (USA) 12.90, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 9.74, Dean Randazzo (USA) 7.64, Alex Smith (HAW) 7.63
Heat 16: Kai Barger (HAW) 13.30, Nathan Hedge (AUS) 11.70, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 9.17, Jason Shibata (HAW) 9.10
Heat 17: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 13.26, Russell Winter (GBR) 9.93, Sterling Spencer (USA) 6.60, Ian Walsh (HAW) 4.05
Heat 18: Luke Campbell (AUS) 13.26, Shea Lopez (USA) 11.34, Mason Ho (HAW) 8.40, Shey Yates (USA) 6.43