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Women's World Title Race to Resume at Vans US Open of Surfing

Tyler Wright Leads World's Best Surfers in Huntington Beach

HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Friday, July 28, 2017) - The Vans US Open of Surfing will welcome back the world's best surfers from July 31 through August 6, 2017 as they compete in Stop No. 6 of 10 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).

The famous beachbreak of Huntington Beach will serve as a midway point in the exciting hunt for the WSL Women's Title with the Top 17 headlining the event alongside the Men's Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 contest, and Men's and Women's Pro Junior event.

Tyler Wright (AUS), reigning WSL Champion, comes into this event wearing the coveted yellow Jeep Leader Jersey after taking the world ranking lead in Fiji. The Australian has earned incredible results this season, including a first place finish at the Oi Rio Women's Pro. A win at this year's Vans US Open of Surfing would mark a second CT win in Huntington Beach for Wright and further solidify her first place position over her elite competitors.

Stephanie GIlmore (AUS), six-time WSL Champion, is ready to earn her first win at the Vans US Open and reclaim the Jeep Leader Jersey from Wright, who took it from Gilmore after the Outerknown Fiji Pro. Interestingly, Gilmore's best result in Huntington is a runner-up finish to Wright in 2014, and Gilmore will look to surpass her previous results to vault back into the top spot on the leaderboard.

"It'll be great to be back in Huntington Beach," Gilmore said. "I am looking forward to the US Open. With a really nice forecast, I think we are set for a great event. It will be tough to beat the girls, especially Courtney (Conlogue) on her home turf, but I'll do my best."

Courtney Conlogue (USA), Santa Ana local, will be one to watch next week. A fantastic season so far for the 2009 event winner has seen her claim two wins on the 2017 CT and earn the fourth spot on the Jeep Leaderboard. Conlogue showcased her committed and fearless surfing when she won the Outerknown Fiji Women's Pro in massive waves and will carry that momentum into the hallowed sands of her homebreak. Conlgoue will face compatriot Sage Erickson (USA) and 2017 CT Rookie Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in Round 1.

"It was definitely great to finally win Fiji," said Conlogue. "That's been an event I've always wanted to win so I'm really happy I've accomplished that goal. The waves, of course, are very different, however it's always a good feeling to have a good result and carry it into your hometown. To win the US Open as a WCT event would be great. However, I enjoyed my US Open win when it was a WQS event. The conditions were amazing that year and Huntington Beach south side pier definitely delivered. I hold that win with pride."

2016 Vans US Open of Surfing winner, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), will face Gilmore and Pauline Ado (FRA) in Round 1. Weston-Webb will be eager to defend her event title after her runner-up finish to Conlogue in Fiji and to improve her 10th place position on the rankings.

"Winning the US Open was an experience I'll never forget because I had practically my whole support crew there and the vibe was indescribable," Weston-Webb said. "I wanted to cry -- the experience was that overwhelming -- but thankfully I kept it together. I'm taking the feeling that I had before winning, I remember that particular day something was different, everything was so in sync and it felt like nothing about that day was out of place for me. I was confident that I was going to win if I made the Finals, that's the feeling I want to have going into every contest."

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) put on stunning performances throughout last year's event and will look to improve her previous 9th place result at in Huntington Beach and repeat her victory in 2011. Fitzgibbons, who currently sits in second place, will battle against 2016 WSL Rookie of the Year Keely Andrew (AUS) and injury replacement Bianca Buitendag (ZAF).

Johanne Defay (FRA), 2015 event winner, currently sits in 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard. Last year, Defay earned a disappointing result at this event with an early Round 2 elimination while trying to defend her title. This year, however, Defay has not dropped below a Round 4 result and looks in great form to score another big win.

Three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) has yet to advance out of the Quarterfinals this season and will battle to jumpstart her 2017 World Title campaign after taking time to mentally prepare between events. Moore will be up against Defay and Silvana Lima (BRA) in Round 1 Heat 1.

"My goals are less result-based and more performance-based for the second half of the year," said Moore. "I spent most of my time off relaxing and not worrying about competition at all. It will take the right mental preparation and confidence to perform well at the US Open. Competition can be all consuming so I just wanted to press restart and feel refreshed coming into the second half of the season."

The Vans US Open Trials will be held on July 31, 2017. Alyssa Spencer (USA), Tia Blanco (USA), Maud Le Car (FRA), and the highest ranked North American QS surfer, which will be determined after the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro, will compete in a one-heat trials event for the opportunity to surf against Wright and Coco Ho (HAW) in Round 1.

Malia Manuel (HAW) will not be competing at this event due to an injury and will be replaced by Bianca Buitendag (ZAF).

The Vans US Open of Surfing will be broadcast LIVE from July 29 - August 6 via VansUSOpenofSurfing.com, WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL's Facebook page. Also check local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.

Recognized as the largest professional sports competition and action sports festival in the world, the Vans US Open of Surfing is currently sanctioned and operated by the World Surf League under license from IMG, the event owner. Official partners of this year's event include Vans, Jeep, Airbnb, Michelob Ultra, Hydro Flask, G-Shock, LifeProof, CLIF Bar, D'Angelico Guitars, Red Bull, Frontier, Ralphs, Peet's Coffee, and 7-Eleven.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com and for continued updates and scheduling for the Vans US Open of Surfing visit VansUSOpenofSurfing.com.

Vans US Open of Surfing Women's Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA), Carissa Moore (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Sage Erickson (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW), TBD
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Keely Andrew (AUS), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 6: Nikki Van DIjk (AUS), Lakey Peterson (USA), Laura Enever (AUS)

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