Action continued Friday at the Vans US Open of Surfing with the Men's QS 10,000 event. Two dozen of the world's top surfers battled through Round 3 in 2-to-3-foot waves at Huntington Beach Pier, with the top two from each heat advancing on.
Defending event winner Filipe Toledo (BRA) put on a clinic, opening up with a huge air rotation for a near-perfect 9.67, the highest single-wave score of the event. He quickly backed it up with another 9.00 for more hacks and small-wave skills. Opponents Alex Ribeiro (BRA) and former CT competitor Artiz Aranburu (ESP) battled for second place, but couldn't match the fleet-footed Brazilian, whose beachbreak prowess was too much to overcome.
"I've been training a lot, but just surfing, not anything else out of the water," Toledo said. "It feels good to be back home here with my family and my friends. I just got some boards, my boards are flying so I feel really confident and really excited about this competition and I hope to make it to the Final again."
Local standout Kanoa Igarashi (USA) found himself in third place in Round 3, despite a heat-high score of 8.27. Opponents Joan Duru (FRA) and Michael Rodrigues (BRA) -- currently ranked No. 4 and No. 12 respectively on the QS -- each went to the air to better their scorelines. Igarashi found a gem with just over 10 minutes remaining for a 6.83 and the lead and improved it with a 7.83 for a convincing win.
"I'm just stoked be out here and get the opportunity," said Igarashi. "I'm in a pretty good spot this year and I've got my seed so I'm safe for the back end of the year. The waves are fun and I can't really ask for more. I've got my little brother here and I just want to show him around and make sure he's watching heats and learning.
Tim Reyes (USA) upset Top 34 surfer Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW) and former CT competitor Mitch Crews (AUS) in Heat 3 with patience and composure, finding two solid scores on his final two waves. Crews, who claimed second place, will join Reyes in Heat 4 while Patacchia is eliminated from competition.
"I knew I had to be patient and wait for the waves to come," said Reyes. "I got my best wave of the heat. It was tough and those guys Freddy (Patacchia) and Mitch (Crews) are amazing surfers and they can make a small wave look insane so I'm stoked to make it. It's my hometown so there's a little added pressure with everyone cheering for you. I'm super excited to surf at home despite the added nerves."
Maxime Huscenot (FRA) stormed through his heat against South African Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) and CT surfer Miguel Pupo (BRA). His rail game and a pair of eight-point rides secured the win for Huscenot and a place in Round 4, equaling his best result of the year.
"I really like this left and I really like to go for the big turns," said Huscenot. "I think most of the other guys are not doing it so I knew I could be different with that. I enjoy the airs too but I think because of the conditions I just try to make the best out of it and make a good choice. It's been over four years since I won a contest so it would be great to win here."
Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) tore into a lefthander, riding it all the way through to the north side of the pier for an excellent 9.33 on his opening ride and an early lead over Kolohe Andino (USA) and Dion Atkinson (AUS). The Hawaiian maintained the top spot, and advanced along with CT surfer Andino to Round 4.
"Luckily I got those waves right at the beginning which gave me a nice lead," Hendrickson said. "They (Andino and Atkinson) both surfed really good too but just didn't get the waves. I'm stoked to get through."
Competition will continue tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. with Men's Round 4. The women's Vans US Open of Surfing will resume Sunday, August 2 at 10 a.m. local time with the Semifinals.