HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Sunday, July 28, 2013) - Alejo Muniz (BRA), 23, has won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Prime Vans US Open of Surfing over Kolohe Andino (USA), 19, in peaky one-to-three foot (1 metre) waves at Huntington Beach Pier.
The Vans US Open of Surfing is the fourth of eight ASP Prime events on the 2013 calendar, offering crucial points towards surfers' ASP World Ranking and a coveted US$100,000 first place prize purse.
Muniz would get the best of an opening exchange with Andino, belting a 8.43 for a series of seamless frontside turns. The Brazilian would quickly backup the ride on his backhand, scalping a 7.80 on a left breaking in to the pier to solidify the victory.
"I'm so happy, I can't believe it," Muniz said. "Today marks the four-year anniversary of my grandfather's passing and I'd like to dedicate this win to him. This is the biggest win of my career and it's the biggest crowd I've ever surfed in front of. I knew I had to get scores and the waves were dying a little bit with the high tide and the ocean really cooperated with me today."
Muniz, who entered the Vans US Open ranked No. 24, had struggled to find a big result throughout the first half of his ASP season, but vaults to No. 15 on the rankings compliments of his win in Huntington Beach today.
"I've been really focused because I hadn't really had big results coming in to this event," Muniz said. "I was putting everything in to this event and the work paid off. I focused more on myself rather than who I was surfing against and what scores they were getting. I've been getting good scores, but losing heats for some reason. I knew inside that I just needed to get the good waves and surf how I could. I'm stoked that I was able to do it this week. I think I surfed smart all week and it's been amazing."
Kolohe Andino was the last Southern Californian remaining in men's competition and was in dangerous form entering the final. The progressive regular-footer would open his final exchange with a 7.77 but was unable to find the second score needed to surpass Muniz, finishing runner-up overall.
"Congratulations to Alejo," Andino said. "He surfed amazing all week. It would have been nice to win, but I just couldn't find a second wave and I'm happy that I made the final."
Bede Durbidge (AUS), 31, unloaded signature power-surfing throughout Vans US Open, besting fellow ASP WCT standout Michel Bourez (PYF), 27, while advancing to the Semifinals. The Australian was unable to surpass Andino in the Semifinals, but hopes to take his success in Huntington Beach to the back half of the year.
"Not many people would have picked me to make the Semifinals in this event so it was a good result for me," Durbidge said. "I came over here to just get back to winning heats and I got four or five wins under my belt and I'll just take that momentum in to the back half of the year."
Matt Banting (AUS), 18, proved to be darkhorse of the 2013 Vans US Open of Surfing, besting a flock of the world's best surfers on his way to an incredible equal 3rd place finish. Banting went on to eliminate Jordy Smith (ZAF), 25, in the Quarterfinals, but was unable to surpass Muniz in their Semifinals clash. Banting's result launches him from from 92 to 41 on the men's ASP World Ranking.
"I've dreamt of that heat against Jordy (Smith) my whole life and to surf against him and to beat him, I'm so happy," Banting said following his Quarterfinals win. "I was just wishing that no waves would come and to just better that 3.77 on my final wave. I'm just frothing. I'm not trying to qualify just yet. I'm taking it heat-by-heat and to beat Jordy, anything after that would have been a bonus."
For Vans US Open of Surfing highlights log on to www.vansusopenofsurfing.com.