For surfers at the U.S. Open of Surfing this weekend, rest has been a bad thing.
Consider: Thursday's Round 3 featured heats of three competitors. The winners of those heats skipped Friday's Round 4 and didn't surf again until Saturday's Round 5. The losers of those heats had to come back to the beach Friday and earn their spot in that fifth round.
There were eight surfers who won their Round 3 heat competing on Saturday after having Friday off. Seven of those eight surfers lost. Even then, the only Round 3 winner who advanced to Sunday's quarterfinals, Willian Cardoso, relied on a buzzer-beating ride to escape.
The local favorite, Huntington's own Brett Simpson, was one of the surfers who has surfed every day and still advanced Saturday. For him, sticking with the same routine has been helpful.
"I know some of these guys maybe went and had a fun night the previous night, and not that it changes anything, but sometimes it's good to take your mind off it and sometimes it's not," Simpson said. "Everyone is different. I don't really party and like to go to bed early, get up early and get into a rhythm and routine. But once that's broken, it kind of throws everything off a little bit."
Rhythm is particularly important at Huntington, where the waves have been small and scattered. There just aren't that many opportunities in a 30-minute heat, especially with the judges rewarding surfers who dominate good waves instead of trying to manufacture scores off mediocre ones.
Jordy Smith exploited that Saturday. The South African, another surfer who didn't get a round off, had one of the best heats of the day. After shooting out of the gate with a run the judges scored an 8.00 out of 10, he finished with an overall score of 17.17 — the second-best tally of the day.
Smith lives in San Clemente, about 35 miles away from Huntington. All of his heats have started before 9 a.m., so he's been waking up about 4:30 a.m. to drive up, get a practice run in, and "get it going."
It might be counterintuitive because of his early schedule, but Smith has preferred not getting the day off.
"Surfing every day definitely helps, because I think it just helps you maintain your rhythm," Smith said. "Sometimes when you have a great heat and then have a day off, you end up relaxing a little bit too much. It's hard to get back into that upbeat mode again.
"For me, it's worked out well I lost in that earlier round."
The biggest upset of the day came in the women's quarterfinals, when Carissa Moore was beat handily by Tyler Wright. Moore is ranked No. 1 in the women's World Championship Tour (WCT). Joining Wright in the women's semifinals are No. 2 Sally Fitzgibbons, No. 3 Stephanie Gilmore and No. 5 Malia Manuel … Notable eliminations in the men's field include Kolohe Andino, who is No. 9 in the WCT standings, Josh Kerr (10), Mitch Crews (25) and Jadson Andre (28) … After Andino's elimination, Simpson is the last American surfer remaining. There will be three Australians competing in the quarterfinals … The men's quarterfinals begin at 8 a.m. Sunday. The semifinals start at 11:10 a.m., and the finals kick off at 12:55 p.m. The women's semifinals begin at 10 a.m., the finals at 12:20.
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