The Pacific Ocean unloaded on Huntington Beach Pier with power and heavy winds to challenge an international field of competitors on opening day at the Jack's Surfboards Pro Qualiyfing Series (QS) 1,500. Surfers took full advantage of the conditions on hand and posted brilliant performances throughout the day.
Micky Clarke ripped through his debut Round One heat with an excellent 8.50. The Ventura, California-native has built up his surfing outside the jersey and brought that back to competition for a chance at gaining solid points.
"For these types of events, everyone is stacked and this being a 1,500 there's some big guys here so it's a little more intimidating," Clarke said. "But, I've been doing more personal travel and really getting into my freesurfing which is helping my mindset coming into these events. When you have a good section to get off a good turn and you freesurf all the time, you know the feeling of what a good turn feels like so taking that into a heat you feel a lot more confident."
Eithan Osborne capped off Round One with the biggest performance of the day and earned highest heat total, a 14.80 (out of a possible 20). After a devastating knee injury last Fall, Osborne's back in a jersey and looked to be in great form with aggressive lines off the lip and critical maneuvers when the wave demanded them.
"I'm just pumped to be back and it's great confidence to win your first heat in the water -- hopefully I can keep it going," Osborne said. "I've been out nearly five months and being away for that long just makes everything feel that much better. Getting a good result here would be a big confidence moving forward into the year. I know if I do good here than I can do good other places just with everyone showing up for this -- hopefully get to surf against some of the bigger guys here and try to give it my best."
The Japanese contingent is back in Huntington and Rinta Oooto led the charge with a great performance in Round Two. The Tokyo-born, now Chiba-native, is used to these type of beach breaks and put that knowledge to use finding two gems. Oooto's backhand was relentless in the heavy conditions and may be a threat to some of the QS elite this weekend at just 16-years-old.
"I've been here for the NSSA competitions in the past, but this is my first QS I've competed in at Huntington," Oooto said "It's a great experience getting to see all these good surfers from around the world here, it's super helpful to watch them and learn what I can. It's really important to build experience in the QS at an early age so I can get points and set myself up for the future."
Jhony Corzo has grown up through the WSL Junior Tour and now finds himself on the QS hunt for vital points of his own. Though limited to travel, the Mexican surfer takes full advantage of contests just across his home border in California and did just that today. Corzo posted an excellent 8.17 with his powerful backhand snaps and sweeping cutbacks, but knows the challenge that's laid before him at this event.
"It's such a good feeling to make it through a Round on the QS and be into Round Three here," Corzo said. "It's been really hard this year, I haven't gotten the results I'm looking for so I'm hoping to change that here. My backside is my weapon since my homebreak is a lefthander at La Punta so I'm really confident on the lefts. I'm so stoked to see more events like this coming to California since it's a quick, cheap flight to get here and compete. It really helps with building some points and making some rounds close to home."
The remaining Round Two heats will finish tomorrow beginning at 8:00 a.m. PST before moving into Round Three -- and the top seeds. Tune in live for another full day of competition through the WSL live stream and watch some of the QS's top talents.