HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Wednesday, July 22, 2009) – The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Hurley U.S. Open saw reigning ASP World Champions Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 37, and Stephanie Gilmore (Tweed Heads, AUS), 21, put on a show for the Huntington Beach crowd today with their dynamic skills to post top scores while advancing through their respective rounds at the famed event in the two-to-three foot surf at South Huntington Beach Pier today. Coco Ho (Sunset Beach, HI), 18, who is a rookie on the Women’s ASP World Tour, was also a leader in the women’s ASP 6-Star event, posting the highest scores amongst the top seeds.
All surfers competing in the premier event are looking to capitalize on the bevy of points available towards qualification for the 2010 ASP Dream Tour, while the winner-take-all U.S.$100,000 historic prize purse has attracted the likes of ASP Dream Tour Surfers such as Slater and former ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (Tweed Heads, AUS), 28.
Slater is fresh off of his ASP Dream Tour campaign and has crossed the globe from South Africa alongside his fellow ASP World Tour surfers to compete in the prestigious Hurley U.S. Open. The iconic regular-footer wore a U.S. Open singlet for his first heat in approximately a decade and appropriately bashed the day’s highest single wave score of 9.33 out of 10 en route to his heat victory.
“I just few in from JBay to get here,” Slater said. “Usually, I stay in Jeffreys Bay a lot longer and there’s a really good swell there right now. It’s a lot warmer here though, a lot better weather. I’ve had a lot of fun here in the past and have a lot of good memories. The first time I surfed in front of a big crowd was here and I used to surf a lot of amateur events here in the past. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I surfed in this event. I’d say 10 years.”
Slater’s experimentation with new equipment continued today, as he was competing on a unique quad-fin design including a carbon-fiber strip and creative stinger placement.
“I actually just got this last night and it felt pretty good,” Slater said. “It’s a four-fin that I’m experimenting with.”
Reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore was also part of the all-star lineup to dazzle the Huntington Beach crowd when she crushed a solid lefthander with critical backhand surfing to earn her heat win today. Despite the experience gained by earning two ASP World Titles, the young Australian still gets nervous before competing in front of the massive gatherings at the Hurley U.S. Open.
“The whole setup at Huntington is really quite nerve-wracking,” Gilmore said. “I remember the first time I came here, I thought it was the most crazy contest I’d ever seen. I still did well, but even today I was really nervous with all of the people on the beach. I just hope I put on a good show.”
After only two years on tour and coming in at only 21-years-old, Gilmore is often considered a veteran on tour due to the new flock of prodigious youth to break on to the international scene on this year’s ASP Women’s World Tour. Gilmore surely has a lengthy career in front of her as well and enjoys the heightened competition brought on the by the youngsters which she feels improves her surfing.
“I’ve only been on tour for a couple of years and I’m already out of the class of the new generation,” Gilmore said. “It’s scary, but they’re pushing me along and making me surf better and they’re incredible to watch. I’m pretty happy because I’m still at the top and I’m going to lap it up while I can now because it’s only going to get more difficult as time goes on.”
In addition to sharing ASP World Titles with Slater at the moment, Gilmore also opted for a quad-fin in her heat today as well.
“This board seems to go good and the whole time I’ve been in California I’ve been using this,” Gilmore said. “My shaper Darren Handley gave me this right before I came over and it’s actually a Bobby Martinez model and it goes good.”
Ho was in domineering form this morning and put on an impressive show by surfing the south peak, or ‘Machado’s’ peak by herself during her heat where she donated the day’s top scores in the women’s ASP 6-Star competition of a 9.10 single-wave-score en route to earning the highest heat total of 16.93 out of 20. The talented regular-footer attributed her seamless-maneuvers to a magic-board which she has been utilizing since her inaugural ASP Dream Tour event in Australia.
“I was really fortunate to have the south peak alone,” Ho said. “I’m actually riding the same Matt Biolis board that I got in February for my first World Tour event and my Dad has been keeping it on the ice for me. It’s going really good out here in Huntington.”
The young Hawaiian was a dual-finalist in both the ASP WQS and Pro Junior divisions last year and the benefits of surfing in both divisions seem to allow Ho to pick up steam as the event progresses.
“It definitely gave me confidence to surf the junior heats before I started in the ‘QS,” Ho said. “It’s good to know how my equipment goes and I’m not a stranger to Huntington, but it has been a year since I surfed here. I’m really stoked to be a part of the Junior because if any of the wheels fall off in the ‘QS, I still have my Junior final.”
Tomorrow’s action will pick back up with the remaining Round of 96 before jumping in to the Round of 48. Also included in tomorrow’s action will be the Women’s Hurley U.S. Open Round of 24 and the first two heats of the U.S. Open Nike 6.0 Pro Junior Quarterfinals.
Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing will begin with LIVE webcast tomorrow and Fuel TV will be providing its spectators with the first true high definition webcast of any surfing event.
To watch the Hurley U.S. Open LIVE log on to www.usopenofsurfing.com
For all of your ASP inquires check out www.aspworldtour.com or www.aspnorthamerica.org
Hurley U.S. Open Women’s Round of 48 Results:
Heat 1: Amee Donohoe (AUS) 11.13, Claudia Goncalves (BRA) 9.70, Amandine Sanchez (FRA) 8.76, Leilani Gryde (HAW)
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 16.93, Laura Enever (AUS) 16.57, Gabi Cope (HAW) 8.27, Airini Mason (NZL) 8.20
Heat 3: Jesse Miley-Dyer (AUS) 12.90, Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.63, Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 8.30, Wini Paul (NZL) 7.94
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.50, Megan Abubo (HAW) 8.50, Angela Keighran (AUS) 5.80, Sarah Beardmore (GBR) 5.17
Heat 5: Paige Hareb (NZL) 9.90, Sage Erickson (USA) 9.33, Mizuki Hagiwara (JPN) 7.40, Nicola Atherton (AUS) 7.10
Heat 6: Bruna Schuitz (BRA) 10.37, Anastasia Ashley (USA) 7.76, Paige Alms (HAW) 7.40, Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 6.17
Heat 7: Ornella Pellizzari (ARG) 11.70, Leila Hurst (HAW) 10.93, Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 8.43, Tammy lee Smith (ZAF) 7.60
Heat 8: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 10.17, Sayuri Hashimoto (JPN) 9.53, Francisca Santos (PRT) 7.70, Jessica Hickson (AUS) 5.40
Heat 9: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.17, Caroline Sarran (FRA) 9.33, Pauline Ado (FRA) 7.93, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 5.67
Heat 10: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.33, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 11.46, Erina Taniguchi (JPN) 6.47, Serena Brooke (AUS) 4.70
Heat 11: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.87, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 10.56, Karina Petroni (USA) 8.50, Nikita Robb (ZAF) 5.90
Heat 12: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.77, Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 10.47, Brittani Nicholl (AUS) 6.20, Erica Hosseini (AUS) 5.83
Hurley U.S. Open Women’s Round of 60 Results:
Heat 1: Amandine Sanchez (FRA) 10.33, Gabi Cope (HAW) 10.06, Quincy Davis (USA) 9.20, Ashley Smith (AUS) 6.54
Heat 2: Wini Paul (NZL) 10.07, Angela Keighran (AUS) 10.40, Tian McNeven (AUS) 9.67, Jamie Hannula (USA) 9.53
Heat 3: Sage Erickson (USA) 11.77, Anastasia Ashley (USA) 11.27, Monyca Byrne-Wickey (HAW) 6.10, Paige Houden (AUS) 6.10
Heat 4: Leila Hurst (HAW) 10.90, Sayuri Hashimoto (JPN) 7.07, Jessica Grimwood (AUS) 6.97, Maria Gonzalez (PRI) 4.73
Heat 5: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 11.00, Erina Taniguchi (JPN) 7.77, Cyrstal Vail (AUS) 4.94, Bo Stanley (USA) 4.60
Heat 6: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.84, Brittani Nicholl (AUS) 8.50, Dara Penfold (AUS) 7.74, Anne-Cecile Le Tallec (FRA) 7.43
Hurley U.S. Open Men’s Round of 96 Results:
Heat 17: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 14.00, Taylor Knox (USA) 11.44, Chris Waring (USA) 10.27, Shea Lopez (USA) 9.23
Heat 18: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.33, Leigh Sedley (AUS) 10.24, Russell Winter (GBR) 8.94, Luke Campbell (AUS) 6.07
Heat 19: Jarrad Howse (AUS) 13.84, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 10.30, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 9.97, Jean Sebastien Estinne (BLM) 7.50
Heat 20: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.77, Brad Ettinger (USA) 12.63, Jack Perry (AUS) 10.94, Fred Patacchia (HAW) 6.27
Heat 21: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.70, Adam Virs (USA) 11.84, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.56, Jay Thompson (AUS) 8.74