The trials for the 2015 Vans US Open of Surfing's Qualifying Series contest wrapped Sunday at Huntington Beach with Kalani David (HAW) and Miguel Tudela (PER) emerging victorious. The two led the pack amidst a hotly-contested Final against Ezekiel Lau (HAW) and Evan Geiselman (USA).
Rippable, 3-to-5 foot (1 - 1.5 meter) surf and onshore winds were on offer throughout most of the day. Forty-eight of the hungriest surfers on the planet vied for two highly coveted wildcard spots in the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 10000 event beginning tomorrow.
David built momentum throughout the day, advancing in second position in both his Round 1 and Round 2 heats this morning before finding his form in Round 3 and finishing the Final with a win.
"I'm still kind of baffled that I just won that," David said. "I'm so stoked. It was a lot of work today. That was the gnarliest contest I've ever surfed, and everyone was just grinding, wanting to be one of the two guys to make it through. It's insane."
"We all got out there, and everyone was just exhausted," David continued. "My arms felt so weak, I could barely paddle. Huffing and puffing every time I paddled back out. We all had ones to start. No one had anything worthwhile. Zeke [Ezekiel Lau] got a 5 and then it was on. I was able to use priority to get my first score, with a combination of a turn and a blow tail on my backhand, going into the pier. I backed it up with something similar, and that was enough to take the win."
Despite his humble retelling of the Final, David's stellar form from Saturday's Pro Junior carried over into today's competition where the young naturalfooter secured a near-perfect 9.87 out of a possible 10 on his backhand during the Semifinals.
"I got a left and I just went for it," he said. "I had two sixes already, and I knew anyone could have gotten better than that. Zeke already had a nine. So I just threw the full rotation air reverse and stuck it, went up for another turn immediately and then got another section for a second air reverse. It was my best wave from the last two days, by far."
Tudela has spent the past two years emerging onto the world stage as one of the planet's most versatile surfers. As adept on 30-foot waves as he is pushing the boundaries of aerial surfing, Tudela's runner-up finish today earns the young goofyfooter a place into the main event Monday.
"I am really stoked," Tudela said. "I just came with that mission, to make it to the main event. Last year I lost at the last second in the Trials Semifinals, and I wanted to make it through today. Now I'm through and I can have fun with the rest of the event, take it one heat at a time.
"I had a zero in my ranking, so this result will help me a lot," he continued. "At least I now replace this with some points, and have an opportunity to get more. I'm 84th right now, so hopefully this is enough to keep my ranking in the 10000s now."