Though a typically more easy-going affair, the bragging rights of this event bring out the best of each competitor and current WSL No. 1 Justin Quintal left everything in the water. Quintal powered through his Quarterfinal bout over David Arganda before unleashing a near-perfect heat 9.43 and 17.60 heat total. The Jacksonville Beach, Florida, native displayed incredible footwork in the afternoon conditions, moving from rail-to-rail with ease and showcasing his ability to hang ten in stylish fashion en route to 9th Duct Tape Invitational win.
"It feels pretty good to put together a heat like that in some challenging conditions during that Semifinal," Quintal said. "This isn't necessarily a good day back home, back we would be out there surfing today and surf with a lot of wind, shorter period swell all the time. Sometimes I'll have a game plan together before I go out when it's like this, sometimes I won't because it's easy to overthink it instead of just going out and having fun."
2017 WSL Longboard Champion Honolua Blomfield was all smiles following her Quarterfinal and Semifinal victories. It was deja vu of last year's Final as Blomfield and good friend Kelis Kaleopaa shared a ride together, Kaleopaa losing her board and Blomfield generously leaving hers while chasing down Kaleopaa's. Though it's all fun for Blomfield, her inner-competitor still shines through and has another win in her sights.
"Those girls I surfed with are some of my very best friends and they surf so amazing, all of them inspire me," Blomfield said. "It was just the best time ever out there. I would be so happy if Kirra (Seale) and I surfed a Final together since we pretty much grew up surfing together. With Kelis in the Final and Kirra, it'd be so cool to have another Hawaiian girl in there -- I can't even talk just with how exciting that would be."
Blomfield's ideal scenario played out and Seale found her way to the Final alongside Quarterfinal standout Haley Otto to make it an all-Hawaii affair to finish the event.
The Finals will run Saturday, August 3, to determine this year's victors.
The Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch will resume tomorrow, Friday, August 2, at 7:30 a.m. PT in Huntington Beach. The event will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and Facebook.com/WSL. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL's broadcast partners.