Championship Tour Rookie Kanoa Igarashi celebrated being back on home soil with a crucial Round Two win at the Vans US Open of Surfing Tuesday. Igarashi took a massive lead over his fellow competitors, putting all three in a combination situation (needing two scores to catch him) at one point during the match.
"It's fun and really nice to be home with this being the longest stint. I'll be here all year so I'm just enjoying time with my family and friends," Igarashi said. "I feel really comfortable surfing this wave a lot when it's like this. For me it's all feeling and just the knowledge of hanging around where I needed to be definitely helped."
Igarashi joined fellow Californians Griffin Colapinto, Conner Coffin, and Kolohe Andino in the Round Two winner's club. Florida's Evan Geiselman, who's now living in California, also earned a crucial Round Two win, and began closing in on QS frontrunners Leonardo Fioravanti and Connor O'Leary in the process.
Leo and Connor entered this event ranked No. 1 and 2 respectively, hoping to lock in their first-half gains with a strong result. But their road to qualification took a tough turn Tuesday. For starters, Leo was surfing with 20 stitches in his head, after suffering a collision with his board on Saturday. That they drew each other so early was a cruel twist of fate, too. But even that didn't matter, because Hawaiian powerhouse Granger Larsen and French firecracker Nomme Mignot got the better of both of them.
With the top two seeds out of the competition, Geiselman, Patrick Gudauskas, Joan Duru and Ethan Ewing are right there hoping to pounce on the opportunity. All four have already moved into Round Three. And Round Two's still not done, so there's a chance Beyrick De Vries and Deivid Silva could join that charge.
Meanwhile, the list of head-turners keeps growing. Hawaiian Kiron Jabour turned in one of the best performances of the day, along with fellow Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz. Tuesday was a rough-and-tumble day, with wind and current tearing the lineup apart. There was very little competitors could rely on in terms of finding a workable peak, so the only workable strategy was "seek and destroy."
The seemingly endless Round of 96 will be complete early Wednesday morning, before the competition zips into the Round of 48. Tune in at 7:30 am to watch it live.