As I’ve said before, I think Rob Machado is becoming a kind of mystic guru of surfing. One day, surfers will seek him out at secret surf spots for nuggets of surf wisdom. He’s not surfing on the world circuit anymore, but he does show up as select contests. Today in his heat, he really seemed to be surfing just for fun of it. The waves he took and the way he rode them did not seem to be for the judges, just himself. Yet, he still took second and moved on to the next round. He’s definitely super graceful in his surfing style compared to the other competitors. He glides into turns and peaks, rather that crashing them or snapping into them like the others. Cool to watch.
The last heat in the Round of 96 was definitely a stacked affair. Mick Fanning, Rob Machado, Brent Reilly and Owen Wright in the same heat and only two guys can move on. When all was said and done, it was Mick Fanning who took first and Rob Machado who slid into second. But based on everything I saw in the Round of 96, Mick Fanning definitely impressed me the most. At this point, if he keeps surfing with the speed, vigor and verve he did this morning, he is my pick to win the US Open this year. Seriously, he scored a 17. The next highest score in the whole of the Round of 96 was in the 15s. The 17 came from two 8+ waves with a 7 to spare. He’s surfing fast, he’s surfing big.
Watch the action live! They have the video feed up now too.
There was a lull right at the beginning of the heat. Each surfer had one waves and there there was a good 5-10 minutes of waiting. It was starting to look like the biggest second wave was going to take the heat. But then the swell rolled in and Kelly Slater exploded with a 9.3. From there on out it was just a scramble for second and Slater started playing with the waves and having fun.
What was most amazing though was the crazed frenzy that happened when Slater tried to get out of the water. Ladies of all ages flooded the shorebreak causing the 9 time champ to head back into the water and wait for security to come and escort him out. Poor, poor dude. I heard one old bitty say, “I just want to touch him.” It was madness!
Also note that Kelly Slater is riding a quad fin board here…not unlike my Harbour Electric!
The lulls between sets are still excruciating at times, but the wave size is really starting to pick up. Lots of 4s and 5s out there for the surfers to really cut loose on. Stephanie Gilmore scored an 8.6 on a nice overhead wave. She secured first place with that wave alone. Jessi Miley-Dyer and Malia Manuel took first and second from heat 3, Stephanie Gilmore and Megan Abubo took first and second from heat 4. Heat 5 (sorry, no pics) was won by Paige Hareb with local favorite Sage Erickson grabbing second.
The fog finally lifted this morning and the final heats of the Round of 144 were completed. The Round of 96 began and some of the bigger names started showing up to surf. Some of the bigger shocks so far are that Bruce Irons, Damien Hobgood and Sunny Garcia are all out already. There have been some good waves out there, but some of the heats are definitely getting better sets than others. The swell is still inconsistent. But the storm in Tahiti is promising some extreme end-of-competition action. Local boys Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach) and Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente) competed in the same heat. Both succeeded and will be moving on to the Round of 48. We’ll have to keep our eye on those two… Hope to get back down there tomorrow and get some pictures of the ladies in their next heats.
Can you feel it? Can you feel the swell building? Oh Jack Lordy, things are going to get nuts and they are going to get nuts quick. The Oakley iPhone App predicted 1-3 today in Huntington. Donnie and I went out at 9th Street to steer clear of the pier since the US Open is currently running the round of 144. (Keep track of the heats.) But those were no 1-3s out there today. They were solid 3s and great fun. It was a logging day for sure. Crumbly a-frames rolling in and making for long, fun rights and lefts. (Get out there before it gets crowded!) Donnie and I got some great waves out there and we definitely had a high wave count today.
Down by the pier things were probably just as good or better. What great waves for a contest. It’d been junk up until today so I was curious what was in store for the rest of the competition. I went on Surfline.com to check out the forecast for the rest of the week. Dude. It’s going to get nuts. Look at Friday! “Occasionally 10ft.” I like that this sentence ends with a period. Apparently, it is just a statement and not at all an exclamation as in, “Holy Crap! Occasional 10 footers! Are you even kidding me?!”
El Porto, although not “occasional 10ft,” will also be at code orange on Friday. So don’t be surprised if all I come back with this week are some pics.