Date: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Schedule: Round 1 (Heats 1-6)
Conditions: Peaky one-to-three foot waves
Heat 6: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) logged a few small scores on her forehand while rookie Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) did the same, but 2012 US Open Champion Lakey Peterson (USA) earned the first scores of substance, belting a 6.50 for a big backhand turn and a 6.43 for backhand combination followed by two hacks on the inside reform.
Peterson's big push at the start gave her a strong early lead, but the rookie battled back, bashing a 5.00 and 7.67, and narrowing the gap in points.
Peterson continued to improve on her performance, adding an excellent 8.00 to her scores and a spot in Round 3.
â€œSteph (Gilmore) was watching it for a long time before my heat and she's really good at knowing where to sit,â€ Peterson said. â€œI was looking at the lefts, that's the spot, the lefts into the pier. I'm glad I got a couple and it feels good to be home. This is the event that is awesome for Californians. The crowd is amazing, the fans are amazing and I've always done well here. I won here in 2012 and haven't won since. It'd be nice to get back up on the podium.â€
Results: Lakey Peterson (USA) 14.70, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 12.84, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 8.00
Heat 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Hawaiian Coco Ho (HAW) took the first wave of the heat, staying active to take an early lead with combo scores. Five-time WCT champ Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) moved in next, showing off her strong maneuvers in smaller surf. Alana Blanchard took the first wave of a smaller set, but an incomplete ride left her with a 1.0, and trailing the pack.
Before the halfway mark, Gilmore hung on to a set wave for the re-form, taking it up into a snap that saw her score an 8.50, to move into the lead with a combined 15.77.
Gilmore continued to command the heat with a combination of wave selection, connection, and an ability to find the steep faces in finicky waves. At one point she fell, but tried to paddle into the inside section and find whatever corner might appear. At the five-minute mark, Ho maintained her second-place position and Blanchard lagged further behind with a combined total of 4.00; she found waves but couldn't manage to hang on.
"My strategy was to go out there and stay active, but you also have to have an open mind and look at waves that might not be an option when you're free surfing," Gilmore said.
"Sometimes they'll give you the opportunity to get a score. I got a wave that Coco didn't want and that luckily turned into a score. It's hard out there, but you just have to be positive about it and find the best waves you can.
"To be able to perform in front of the fans is what I love about what we do. It's the best part. To feel the energy of the fans give you incentive and gets you excited to try that much harder."
Results: Stephanie Gilmore 15.77, Coco Ho 12.50, Alana Blanchard 6.57
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
2011 event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Dream Tour rookie Alessa Quizon (HAW) and replacement surfer Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) waited patiently to open their campaigns, with no rides unfolding in the first five minutes.
Inconsistent conditions continued, but Fitzgibbons, current World No. 2, found two small scores to take pole position.
Weston-Webb got on the board next, posting a modest 4.17, taking a quick lead with the addition of a 3 while Quizon remained scoreless throughout the first half of the heat.
The Australian locked in the first score of substance, posting a 5.67 to regain the lead.
Fitzgibbons's two modest scores proved enough to send her straight to Round 3.
Results: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 8.67 vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 7.87 vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 2.23
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA) vs. Leila Hurst (HAW)
Defending Vans US Open of Surfing Champion and current ASP World No. 1 Carissa Moore (HAW), European standout Pauline Ado (FRA) and Vans Wildcard Leila Hurst (HAW) battled next and Moore set the pace with a 5.83.
The wildcard answered back, snagging a 5.80 and 7.50 of her own, quickly taking the lead with strong backhand snaps on the outside and polished forehand snaps on the inside re-form.
Despite her scores, the former ASP World Junior Champion's lead was short-lived. Moore -- the reigning, two-time ASP Women's World Champion -- smashed a 7.33 of her own, while Ado struggled to find a rhythm.
With just two minutes remaining, Hurst picked off a clean set, starting strong with two backhand turns, but a stumble on the inside section saw the wildcard fall short of the score needed to surpass Moore for the heat win.
"You have half an hour and I was watching the waves and knew there would be some lulls," Moore said. "It's hard to be patient when Leila only needed a five. All of the girls are surfing really well and you have to look at what they're doing for inspiration. Sally is surfing really well and I'm going to have to do my best if I want to do well here."
Results: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.16, Leila Hurst (HAW) 12.60, Pauline Ado (FRA) 10.00
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)
As Surf City's sets rolled in with heightened strength and consistency, the second heat's competitors took turns testing the waves with quick kickouts. Tyler Wright's wave selection paid off, notching the only significant scores in the first 10 minutes; a 5.50 and a 4.33 for strong snapss.
After a long lull, Paige Hareb did the Huntington Hop for her longest ride, notching a 2.60, improving her two-wave total but keeping her in third place with a hundredth of a point separating her and Laura Enever with four minutes remaining.
A quick exchange under the 60-second mark saw Hareb and Wright go for final takeoffs. Hareb managed a solid snap and an unfinished cutback, enough to pass Enever with a 3.93. Wright replaced her bottom score with a 4.77 as the horn sounded, pumping down the line with a few backhand turns.
"There's not a lot coming in and I just tried to pick off the ones that look the best and ride them all the way through," Wright said. "That was the first time I've surfed the bank this year. I've surfed it the last few years and it hasn't changed that much."
Results: Tyler Wright 10.27, Paige Hareb 6.53, Laura Enever 5.86
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Defay and Stoyle found their feet first, locking in a pair of fours to start their rhythm while Manuel waited patiently. The Hawaiian would get the best of the opening scores, connecting an outside turn and the re-form for a committed snap on the closeout, inside section.
Manuel built on her opening ride with a 6.27, while the rookies kept the heat close, notching a share of midrange scores as well. Stoyle pulled out eleventh-hour heroics, bashing the highest score of the heat with just seconds left on the clock. The Australian took to her forehand, combining a series of strong snaps for an 8.10, and scoring a spot in Round 3.
"Huntington Beach is similar to what I surf at home on the Sunshine Coast and I'm used to these conditions," said Stoyle. "I came a few days early, but I've been surfing the North Side of the pier mostly. I can't believe it's the second half of the year already. I'm having the best time and I'm going to try not to change that and take the same mentality in the back half of the year."
Results: Dimity Stoyle 14.03, Malia Manuel 12.97, Johanne Defay 10.74