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.
â€œIt feels great to win over Mitch,â€ said Huscenot. â€œI'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.â€
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.
â€œI definitely had nerves in that heat,â€ said Cardoso. â€œI 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.â€
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.
â€œI feel comfortable because I surf out here a lot,â€ said Simpson. â€œBede 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.â€