The elite women's Vans US Open of Surfing kicked off Tuesday with Hawaiian domination, some surprising upsets, and maneuvers that made the best of the variable conditions.
Hawaiians led the pack, at first. Malia Manuel opened the event with a win after a Herculean effort. She surfed a total of 10 waves, finding two keeper scores amid a string of low numbers.
Next up was Coco Ho, a Hawaiian with a family legacy of world-class surfing. (Her dad has been called the "godfather of the North Shore," her uncle was 1993 World Champ and her brother, Mason, is on the Qualifying Series.) Californian Lakey Peterson, who won the US Open in 2012, gave Ho a run for her athletic money, earning an 8.57 at the very end. But despite the high-scoring finale, Peterson didn't catch up. She'll go on to surf the do-or-die Round 2, while Ho advances directly to Round 3.
Hawaiian dominance, however, would prove to be short-lived. In the third heat of morning, three-time World Champ Carissa Moore (HAW) hacked and slashed her way to a point lead with a pair of performances that featured her signature power turns. But Australian Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) galloped out of second place to become the dark horse of the day: Her last wave of the heat threw a wrench in things. Earned 6.73 at the buzzer, she tipped the scales and defeated Moore by just .63 of a point.
By the time Round 1 was over, Moore wasn't the only Tour titan who had tasted defeat. Heat 5 saw Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) fall to French surfer Johanne Defay (FRA) who has found more power and assurance in the water with every contest. Defay was the 2014 Rookie of the Year, but has had mixed results so far this year. Her performance at Huntington Beach may bode well for the second half of her season.
Tune in Wednesday, July 29 at 7:30 a.m. local time for more women's CT surfing. Catch the US Open LIVE here and on the WSL App daily through August 2.