With no knockouts in the third round of the women's side of the event, it's all about who puts on the best show, and Tyler Wright and Coco Ho took top honors on Thursday at the Vans US Open with their matching 15.67 totals and easy advancement into the quarterfinals. Two to three-foot waves gently nuzzled Huntington Beach Pier on the third day of women's competition. It's essential not to mistake easy-going for lame: The surf was clean and very contestable as the women punched through the third round.
In the first heat, Courtney Conlogue startled a couple of swimmers after casually shooting the pier for a 7.93. She just added it to her 7.50, which meant five-time world champ Steph Gilmore was in a combination situation. A few uncharacteristic errors from Gilmore and incomplete airs from Silvana Lima left Conlogue's path to the quarterfinals wide open. She advanced by a not-insignificant 5.43.
"With the high tide, I know how inconsistent it can get, and I just wanted to get moving fast and get a couple of fives and sixes under the belt," Conlogue said. "That 7.50 was kind of a treat. I think that training here at Huntington all the time, you start to really understand the banks and the flat spots, and how to use the pylons and stuff. There was actually a wave where I got so close to the pier, I was even a little sketched out. I think I was a couple of inches, it was pretty close."
Wright looked her serene and self-assured self as she opened her heat with an 8.50 and secured her spot in the quarters with a fresh air reverse. Meanwhile, her opponents Bianca Buitendag and Laura Enever collided (literally) while trying (unsuccessfully) to apprehend her.
"The girls have been pushing women's surfing so much this year and I'm just trying to keep up," Wright said humbly after her win. "I watch Carissa and Coco and Lakey and Sal, and they're all going to the air, and when you get a section, you just want to--I just want to go to the air and try stuff. That's what I love. That's what keeps me entertained in the heats and I hope it's entertaining for everyone else to watch."
The third heat was an all-Hawaiian affair as Carissa Moore, Coco Ho, and Alana Blanchard caught like a million waves between them. Ho began with a handful of low scores, but as the heat reached the halfway point, she posted a 7.17 and an 8.50 in rapid succession and took the lead.
Sally Fitzgibbons overpowered Lakey Peterson and Pauline Ado in the round's final heat. The fourth heat was a tight one, with each surfer taking the lead in turn until Fitzgibbons grabbed it with five minutes remaining and, to the others' frustration, wouldn't relinquish it.
VANS US OPEN OF SURFING WOMEN'S ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.43, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 10.00, Silvana Lima (BRA) 9.03
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 15.67, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 11.00, Laura Enever (AUS) 6.33
Heat 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.67, Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.24, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 10.10
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.33, Pauline Ado (FRA) 14.20, Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.63