Round 5 of the men's Prime-rated Qualification Series (QS) contest kicked off Saturday at the Vans US Open of Surfing, with just 16 competitors still vying for a spot in the Quarterfinals.
Maxime Huscenot (FRA), 22, 2009 ASP World Junior Champion, has had a breakout performance in Huntington Beach so far. Capitalizing on his momentum, he opened the Round of 16 by ousting WCT rookie Mitch Crews (AUS), 24.
“It feels great to win over Mitch,” said Huscenot. “I’m stoked on the way I managed the heat. There’s a lot of WCT guys here and I’ve beaten three of four of them so I’m really pleased and this is where I want to be.”
Huscenot will face Willian Cardoso (BRA), 28, in the first heat of the Quarterfinals. The Brazilian earned the day’s second upset, defeating Gold Coast flyboy Josh Kerr (AUS), 30, with a last-minute heat win.
“I definitely had nerves in that heat,” said Cardoso. “I made a lot of mistakes, I started with the wrong waves and I made a mistake with priority. I was so furious, but I tried to stay focused, get two turns, and do my job. I’m really happy with the final result.”
Brett Simpson (USA), 29, two-time US Open champion, claimed a crucial Round 5 victory in a wave-starved heat against fellow ASP Top 34 competitor Bede Durbidge (AUS), 31. The local hero started strong with an 8.60, but could not find a backup ride until the dying minutes of the heat. Simpson rode only two waves, but still managed to oust the Australian.
“I feel comfortable because I surf out here a lot,” said Simpson. “Bede is a tough competitor because he always puts up big scores. I’ve felt good physically all year but I’ve had some tough draws and made mistakes that have been frustrating. I just need to let it go and focus on making heats.”