The men's Prime-rated Vans US Open of Surfing completed Round 4 in waves of one-to-three feet at Huntington Beach Pier, whittling the field down to 16 surfers.
The Qualification Series (QS) event is the third of seven Prime-rated events on the 2014 calendar, offering maximum points towards qualification for the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT).
Josh Kerr (AUS), 30, current ASP World No. 10, looked electric in this morning's challenging conditions, connecting crisp snaps and lofty airs against South African dangerman Beyrick Devries (ZAF), 21. Kerr was on the winning end of the final lead change the lead and advances to the Round of 16.
â€œIt was one of those one mornings and I was hoping that one maneuver would get me into the nines but it didn't quite so I had to keep searching,â€ said Kerr. â€œFor today's conditions, it was tough. I'm lucky that I got a wave right at the end that gave me the opportunity. I just made sure I got the job done. It's all about timing with airs, the timing of your acceleration to the lip.â€
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 26, combated fellow ASP Dream Tour campaigner Aritz Aranburu (ESP), 29, in the Round of 24. The South African powerhouse relied on his refined small-wave equipment to secure his Round of 16 berth.
â€œI'm riding a board that's been shaped specially for these conditions,â€ said Smith. â€œIt's got the same dimensions as what I normally ride but I just beefed it up and made it thicker. I'm really excited to be here and I've been living in Newport Beach for the last few years so I've had lots of opportunity to surf at Huntington Beach. Each wave on the Tour takes a little getting used to but I focus on being familiar with the boards I'm riding so I'm well prepared.â€
Filipe Toledo (BRA), 19, entangled in a tight battle with Virginia Beach darkhorse Michael Dunphy (USA), 24, utilized his classic air game to prevail. Dunphy held the lead until the dying seconds of the affair, but the Brazilian connected a clean outside snap followed by an air-reverse, overtaking the American for a Round of 16 spot.
â€œThat was a tough heat and (Michael) Dunphy is an amazing surfer, especially in these conditions,â€ said Toledo. â€œI just got that little one and hit the lip on the outside and the air-reverse on the inside. Luckily I made it. I got hurt in Ballito and twisted my ankle on a backside air-reverse. I've been going to the physio and it's feeling better. Good confidence for the next round and I'm feeling good.â€
Another WCT campaigner Brett Simpson (USA), 29, capitalized on his local knowledge of the Huntington Beach lineup, catching crucial waves under the priority of Peterson Crisanto (BRA), 22. While Simpson fell on a crucial wave at the dying minutes of the bout, he was able to edged out the Brazilian by a score of 10.83 to 10.20.
â€œI did everything wrong,â€ said Simpson. â€œMy first wave could have been a good score and I fell. I was pushing a little too hard and the waves are really flat and you have to skate across. I was trying to chase him into the worst waves possible. He only needed a 2.90 in the end and I think I was able to fluster him a bit and he wasn't able to sit where he wanted to sit. Either way, I'm stoked to be making rounds and sometimes you need a little bit of luck. It's been a rough year competing and I'm stoked to be home.â€