- WSL / Sean Rowland

Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) has been on a tear, moving up three spots on the elite women's Jeep rankings to World No. 6. After finishing runner-up at the Oi Rio Women's Pro in May, she earned four near-perfect rides in Fiji on her way to another runner-up finish there.

But growing up in South Africa, beachbreaks like the one in Huntington Beach, Calif. -- home of the women's next CT contest, the Vans US Open of Surfing -- pose a new challenge. Buitendag recently discussed how she's prepping for the Open, her religious faith, and what it's like being so tall (she's 6'1").

Catching Up with Buitendag
The South African and women's World No. 6 stops by the J-Bay Open.

World Surf League (WSL): How are you preparing for the beachbreak at the US Open?
Bianca Buitendag: It's hard because I grew up here [in South Africa]. I've been way more comfortable in pointbreaks in general. I did go to France for a long time during my junior career to get used to beachbreaks specifically so I think the best way to get used to a beachbreak is just to go there. I'm going to Huntington relatively early with a whole new quiver, a whole new mindset, a whole new way of surfing.

WSL: With back-to-back Finals do you feel more confident going into the next event? Do you feel another Final appearance coming?
BB: I never feel another one coming. It's heat by heat. I don't think you can expect anything. Obviously you work toward something but you can't expect it to happen. Plus, like I said, beachbreaks are very different than what I'm used to and very different than [the last women's CT event in] Fiji so I'm just going to try to do my best to adapt to the different waves.

WSL: As you move up the rankings do you feel more pressure?
BB: There's less pressure because I don't have to think about requalification.

Buitendag Charges Cloudbreak
Bianca Buitendag's power was on point in Semifinal 2 backing up a 9.23 with another excellent range score.

WSL: What's it like being so tall?
BB: It's pretty cool. You can see above everybody else. [Laughs]. No, I'm kidding. There's nothing you can do about it so you might as well just get comfortable.

WSL: You had a proverb written on the bottom of the board you had on the podium at the Oi Rio Women's Pro: "The grace he has offered so freely." What does that mean to you and what role does religion play in your surfing?
BB: It's about God and about how he offers us unconditional love and finding an identity in that. It's something I found when I first started competing and it's a priority in my life. It's an expression of the opportunities and talent he has given me. [Those things are] not mine. Religion plays a big role in my life and surfing's part of my life.

Don't forget to set your Fantasy Surfing lineup and be sure to watch the Vans US Open of Surfing LIVE here and the WSL App starting July 27.

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