I've always thought it would be funny if a bunch of San Francisco Giants fans showed up at the ballpark before the start of a game but the umpires determined that the wind out of McCovey Cove wasn't right; that the conditions to play a baseball game weren't 100 percent ideal. That's what happens on surfing's world tour level; conditions not right (or too big) call off the contest. Come back and check again tomorrow at dawn, organizers say. But prime, six-star and lesser-rated ASP events don't have this luxury. As was evident in Huntington Beach for the start of the U.S. Open on Tuesday, you run in anything.
As the hellish week that is the U.S. Open got underway, the fickle one-to-three-foot surf made for some interesting results. It could have been worse; the wind was all right througout the day, and there were the odd sets, but Pipeline it was not.
Mick Fanning, a former runner-up in Huntington, is out. "Couldn't find a wave to save my life," he muttered, getting in the elevator back up to his hotel room.
Earlier, Taj Burrow showed up with an armload of sparkly, beautifully white Mayhems. He's going to have to find somewhere else to ride them, because he's out too. Owen Wright, whose gangly limbs were never going to serve him well in the Huntington-hop fest that we're seeing, spent some time Tuesday filming down at Lowers. His services were not required in north Orange County, as he lost out in the first round. World tour warriors Bede Durbidge and Michel Bourez are out, and legends Rob Machado and Sunny Garcia won't be making inspirational headlines either.
People complain that the news these days is too negative, that it only focuses on tragedy. So here's some positivity. Dane Reynolds, riding a 5'8", stole the show. In waves reminiscent of something he'd surf on a crappy day back home on Ventura, he went out and ripped. Not ripped like Kelly Slater, who won his heat through calculation and experience, but Reynolds won for the reason that everybody loves; he went as big as he could on every maneuver. For example: He launches a nine-point air on the outside ramp section, then goofily falls on a relatively routine floater on the inside shore break. He knew his work had been done already.
And his remark, "I had fun out there."
Because the surf is small, and will remain relatively so throughout the week, this is going to be an aerial dogfight, which serves Reynolds well. It also serves Julian Wilson well, who started the day with a massive 9.8 frontside air. It's the highest wave score of the contest so far. Unlike Reynolds, who seems to just want to go out and have fun and prove that he can still win a heat or two, Wilson has motivation. After losing in the first round of the Nike Lowers Pro earlier in the year, he's determined. He's as an obvious contender.
"Things are good," he noted. "I'm feeling good right now, hopefully it's a good week."
Of course, there are others. Jordy Smith looks determined. He's surfing strong and with a good head on his shoulders. He's picking the right waves, making the right moves in the right places and has the power to hack away at the inside reform.
Joel Parkinson, who made his heat today, is taking a more relaxed approach. "The wife and I are on a bit of a vacation," he said. "I think she was still asleep when I left for my heat. The grandparents are watching the kids, so it's been good and relaxing."
But the Brazilians thrive in waves like this. It's too much like their home breaks not to. Miguel Pupo, Alejo Muniz, Gabriel Medina, Jesse Mendes and Filipe Tolido are going at this like it's the World Cup. They're going to be dangerous for the marquee names. They could all be surfing on the final day.
America does have its hopefuls too: Back-to-back champ Brett Simpson, Tanner and Pat Gudauskas, Timmy Reyes and Nathaniel Curran have some fight in them. Watch for Tanner Gudauskas, who's like our little Occy. Powerful goofy-footer with a grin you can't forget and the good-natured determination to just go out and surf. T-Bone Gudang, watch for him.
WOMEN'S NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.03, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.74, Sarah Mason (NZL) 11.00
Heat 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.60, Sage Erickson (USA) 13.67, Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.27
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.50, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.80, Dax McGill (HAW) 5.73
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.93, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 12.87, Paige Hareb (NZL) 10.56
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.83, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.44, Justine Dupont (FRA) 9.00
Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW) 10.10, Laura Enever (AUS) 9.70, Pauline Ado (FRA) 8.76
NIKE LOWERS PRO ROUND OF 48 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kai Otton (AUS) 15.93, Tim Reyes (USA) 13.00, Evan Geiselman (USA) 11.93, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 9.47
Heat 2: Jay Thompson (AUS) 12.43, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 12.27, Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.17, Alain Riou (PYF) 7.67
Heat 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.80, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.23, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.77, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.73
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 18.54, Nathaniel Curran (USA) 12.97, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 11.57, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 8.80
Heat 5: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 16.17, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 13.20, Daniel Ross (AUS) 10.13, Jay Quinn (NZL) 9.80
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.03, Stu Kennedy (AUS) 12.67, Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.50, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 11.60
NIKE US OPEN ROUND OF 96 RESULTS:
Heat 19: Brett Simpson (USA) 13.67, Nat Young (USA) 12.27, Jano Belo (BRA) 9.60, Heath Joske (AUS) 5.27
Heat 20: John John Florence (HAW) 12.87, Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 9.87, Sunny Garcia (HAW) 8.23, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 6.00
Heat 21: Julian Wilson (AUS) 18.54, Davey Cathels (AUS) 10.50, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 7.04, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 6.29
Heat 22: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.77, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 14.24, Brian Toth (PRI) 9.83, Richard Christie (NZL) 8.94
Heat 23: Travis Logie (ZAF) 14.10, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.83, Rob Machado (USA) 11.43, Kai Barger (HAW) 8.58
Heat 24: Keanu Asing (HAW) 16.76, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.33, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 11.60, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 10.73