Carissa Moore won the 2013 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing after a fierce fray with Huntington Beach local Courtney Conlogue on Sunday afternoon. This is the 20-year-old Hawaiian's second U.S. Open victory and third WCT win this season. With it, she gained $15,000 and 10,000 points, which once again put her ahead of Australian Tyler Wright in the race for an ASP world championship title.
Sunday was a virtually windless Southern California day with a building south swell. The semifinalists put on a brilliant show at Huntington Beach Pier in 2- to 3-foot surf, in front of an absolutely bonkers crowd on the beach.
A few hundred thousand of Conlogue's closest friends and relatives cheered as she comboed Wright in the first semifinal. Both surfers definitely had their game faces on, but Conlogue knows H.B. better than just about anyone. Her spirited surfing earned her the day's highest single-wave score of 9.27 and a spot in the final.
"I don't know how that happened," Conlogue said. "She's such an amazing surfer and I think H.B. kind of got the best of her in that heat, but it was definitely a good heat. She's such an amazing performer. I always love surfing with Tyler."
When Moore met France's Pauline Ado in the second semifinal, Ado's surfing was on point, but she had some more difficulty with timing than she has over the past week. Moore, on the other hand, was on another level. Her form was textbook and she flew across the waves' faces with what seemed like zero drag. Basically, she made it all look effortless. She was visibly thrilled to advance to a final with Conlogue.
Moore front-loaded the 35-minute final, riding out of a little hands-free air and put Conlogue into a combo situation just 10 minutes in. With all of about a minute left before the hooter, Conlogue racked up a 7.50, a 6.00, and a 7.77. She was ultimately just 0.73 shy of the win.
"To be honest, I'm a little shocked right now, because I actually thought Courtney won that thing. Everyone erupted on the beach after her last wave, and I [had] totally let her go -- I had priority. It was a bad decision on my part, but I'm stoked that it worked out in my favor," Moore said after her victory.
"It's definitely a little nerve-racking [going up against a local in front of these crowds]," she continued. "I was just stoked to be in the final. You know, Courtney's in the title race and everything's really close, so at this point, I think it's all between the ears and you've just got to have fun. I had fun."
"Title" is like a dirty word on the ASP Women's World Tour this season. No one in the Top 17 really wants to utter it and, believe it or not, no one ranked above fifth is even thinking about winning one. Earlier this week, Conlogue acknowledged that it would be nice, but maintained that it's not her focus. Not right now.
"I would love to get a world title -- everyone on Tour does [want one] -- but I just don't want to jump to the finish line before I'm out of the starting gate," she said.
Now that the sixth of eight Tour events has been locked in, the top two contenders, Moore and Wright, have definitely put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack, and the T-word is surely playing on the surfers' minds. However, there are still fewer than 10,000 points between Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons (ranked fourth), and I suspect that we're going to get more of the same "too soon to tell" line, which is fair enough, as it is, well, too soon to tell.
The next ASP WWCT event is the re-scheduled Roxy Pro France in late September.
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing women's final result
1. Carissa Moore (USA) 16.00
2. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.27
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing women's semifinals result
SF 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.07 def. Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.33
SF 2: Carissa Moore (USA) 14.70 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 10.23
2013 ASP Women's World Title Ranking