The competition has kicked up several notches and the field of competitors battling for titles has been whittled down at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, which reaches its climax this weekend at the Huntington Beach Pier.
The nine-day event, which got under way Saturday, runs daily through Sunday, offering intense competitions in surfing, skateboarding and BMX bike riding.
The U.S. Open of Surfing is an important stop for the Men's Assn. of Surfing Professionals Qualification Series and the Women's World Championship Tour. The ASP Prime event offers valuable points toward a top 10 QS ranking for the men, and the U.S. Open is the halfway point of the World Championship Tour for the women.
There will be a new men's division winner at the U.S. Open this year. Last year's champ, Alejo Muniz of Brazil, finished third behind winner Alex Ribeiro (Brazil) and second-place Dane Reynolds (USA) in his Round 1 heat Monday and didn't advance.
On the women's side, 2013 U.S. Open champion Carissa Moore of Hawaii won her first two heats and has advanced to Friday's quarterfinals. Three other athletes, Malian Manuel (Hawaii), Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia) and Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), also have secured sports in Friday's quarterfinals.
Huntington Beach athletes got off to a great start in the U.S. Open Men's Prime at the Surf Stadium.
Tim Reyes who was coming off a win at the Prime-rated Mr. Price Pro Ballito in South Africa this month, won his opening heat Monday and finished second Tuesday in his second heat to advance to Thursday's Round 3.
Brett Simpson, a two-time U.S. Open men's champion, followed the same pattern as Reyes. He won his first-round heat Tuesday and was second in his second heat Wednesday to advance.
"These first heats are always tricky, so I'm glad to get this one out of the way," Simpson said after his heat Tuesday. "I didn't want to think about anything out there (in the water). The conditions here are tough, and I just wanted to take my time."
Kanoa Igarashi, a wild-card entry in the Men's Prime, scored a Round 1 heat victory Monday against 2012 U.S. Open champion Julian Wilson (Australia), Yadin Nicol (Australia) and Dillon Perillo (USA). The 16-year-old won his second heat Tuesday to secure a spot in Thursday's Round 3.
Athletes also are contending for titles in the Men's Junior Pro, Women's Junior Pro and Vans Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational, the latter a featured surf exhibition during the U.S. Open.
Igarashi earned a spot in Thursday's Men's Junior Pro quarterfinals.
The women's Round 4, men's Round 3 and men's Junior Pro quarterfinal heats are Thursday. Friday's schedule includes men's Round 4, women's quarterfinal and Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational quarterfinal heats. Saturday offers the men's Round 5, Duct Tape Invitational semifinals and finals, and the women's and men's Junior Pro semifinals and finals.
The U.S. Open winds down Sunday with the men's quarterfinals, semifinals and finals and the women's semifinals and finals. The women's final starts about 12:20 p.m., with the men's final to follow.
Skateboarding and BMX competitions go into full speed this weekend at the concrete Vans Pro Bowl. The Van Doren Invitational preliminaries and skate qualifiers are Friday. The skate semifinals and finals are Saturday, and the BMX final is Sunday.
Just outside Huntington Surf & Sport on Friday will be the final inductions of the 2014 class in the Surfers' Hall of Fame. Surfer and filmmaker Timmy Turner of Huntington Beach and renowned board shaper and entrepreneur Rusty Preisendorfer will be inducted.
Moore, the other member of this year's class, was inducted Friday.
Thursday's surfing schedule
Women's Round 4 heats
Heat 1: Tatiana Weston (Hawaii), Nikki Van Dijk (Australia).
Heat 2: Laura Enever (Australia), Tyler Wright (Australia).
Heat 3: Johanne Defay (France), Paige Hareb (New Zealand).
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA), Dimity Stoyle (Australia).
Men's Round 3 heats (round of 24)
Heat 1: Josh Kerr (Australia), Mitch Crews (Australia), Maxime Huscenot (France).
Heat 2: Beyrick De Vries (South Africa), Tim Reyes (Huntington Beach), William Cardoso (Brazil).
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (South Africa), Adam Melling (Australia), Charles Martin (Guadeloupe).
Heat 4: Keanu Asing (Hawaii), Aritz Aranburu (Spain), Bino Lopes (Brazil).
Heat 5: Matt Balding (Australia), Michael Dunphy (USA), Jadson Andre (Brazil).
Heat 6: Jonathan Gonzalez (Canary Islands, Spain), Filipe Toledo (Brazil), Kanoa Igarashi (Huntington Beach).
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (Australia), Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach), Ryan Callinan (Australia).
Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA), Garrett Parkes (Australia), Peterson Crisanto (Brazil).
Men's Junior Pro Quarterfinals
Heat 1: Cam Richards (USA), Jake Davis (USA), Kanoa Igarashi (Huntington Beach), Skip McCullough (USA).
Heat 2: Dylan Lightfoot (South Africa), Luan Wood (Brazil), Matt Banting (Australia), Koa Smith (Hawaii).
Heat 3: Yago Dora (Brazil), Kevin Schulz (USA), Taylor Clark (USA), Miguel Tudela (Peru).
Heat 4: Jake Kelley (USA), Nic Hdez (USA), Joshua Moniz (USA), Jake Halstead (USA).