It's said that all good things must come to an end.
Late Wednesday morning at the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, Brett Simpson's two-year reign did just that.
The Huntington Beach athlete was among the Men's Prime Draw, Round 1 heat competitors on day four of the Nike U.S. Open of Surfing, but did not advance after placing third (10.24 score) in a heat headed by two young hotshots: first-place Thiago Camarao of Brazil, who won with a 13.17 score, and John John Florence of Hawaii, who finished second (12.26). Davey Cathels of Australia was fourth (7.00).
The top two finishers in each heat advance in the competition.
There will be no three-peat for the disappointed Simpson, who gave his board a quick pound with his right fist after the horn sounded to end his 30-minute heat.
He found no break at his home break.
"I made a mistake on a wave that I had a good opportunity on," said Simpson, who, despite being frustrated with his performance, showed his usual class by smiling and posing for photos with well-wishing fans as he exited the water. "You don't get a ton of opportunities out there, so you need to take advantage of what's there."
Simpson might not be in the running for the 2011 Men's crown, but he still is the only surfer to win consecutive U.S. Open Men's titles.
"I'm stoked with my achievement," he said. "I'll be back next year to get it."
The nine-day Nike U.S. Open of Surfing extravaganza, which, in addition to surfing, includes skate and BMX competitions, gets into the meat of its schedule Thursday. The event runs through the weekend, culminating in championship finals Saturday and Sunday.
In early opening-day Round 1 heats of the Men's Prime Draw on Tuesday, Evan Geiselman of the USA successfully maneuvered through conditions he found to his liking, and Richard Christie of New Zealand was thrilled to make his way through to surf again.
"I'm happy to be moving on," Geiselman said after winning the fourth heat of the day Tuesday in the Men's Round 1 competition.
The New Smyrna Beach, Fla., native, who also lives in San Clemente, managed to combine his two top wave scores (6.60, 5.77) to take a heat that included second-place Blake Thornton of Australia advancing.
Geiselman said that he and Thornton competed in the same Men's Prime Draw heat a year ago and finished with the same placements. Geiselman also won last year's Junior Pro Men's title, but was eliminated from this year's competition in his first heat Sunday.
"The conditions were a little inconsistent out there, with a lot of lefts and it was mushy, but those types of waves suit me," he said. "That's to my liking.
"It's great to be moving on. Not advancing in the Junior event left a little bit of a sour taste, but I've put that behind me and am focused on this competition. This is my favorite contest to come to all year. It's crazy out here, and the support everyone shows is incredible."
Christie followed Geiselman by winning the next heat. Jack Freestone of Australia advanced with Christie, but Americans Damien Hobgood and Nathaniel Curran were eliminated. Curran, of Oxnard, won the 2008 U.S. Open Men's title.
Christie's wave score of 8.93 Tuesday was the best single wave score of the Men's competition through Wednesday morning.
"The guys in my heat are all great surfers, and I was just trying to go out there and do what I could," Christie said. "This is the first time I've advanced in the Main Event, and it feels amazing."
The Men's ($310,000 total purse) semifinals and finals heats are Sunday.
The Women's U.S. Open ($110,000 prize purse) started Monday with 18 top-rated competitors, but was whittled down to 12 heading into Wednesday. Among the final 12 was 2009 Women's champ Courtney Conlogue of Santa Ana, who won the first heat of the competition. Reigning Women's champ Carissa Moore of Hawaii, who last month wrapped up the 2011 Assn. of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Women's World Title, also was still in the running as of Wednesday.
The Women's semifinals and finals heats are Sunday.
The other 10 finalists in the running for the Women's title were 2007 U.S. Open Women's champ Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), 2006 winner Sofia Mulanovich (Peru), Tyler Wright (USA), Silvana Lima (Brazil), Lakey Peterson (USA), Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia), Laura Enever (Australia), Melanie Bartels (Hawaii), 2008 Pro Junior Women's winner Coco Ho (Hawaii) and Rebecca Woods (Australia).
The Junior Pro Men ($20,000 total purse) semifinals field is set. Advancing to the final eight are Florence, Conner Coffin (USA), Tanner Hendrickson (Hawaii), Filipe Toledo (Brazil), Keanu Asing (Hawaii), Kolohe Andino (USA), Dylan Goodale (Hawaii) and Colin Moran (USA). The division's semifinals and finals are Saturday.
The Junior Pro Women ($6,000) semifinals and finals also are Saturday. The semifinalists are Ho, Peterson, Pauline Ado (France), Leila Hurst (Hawaii), Laura Enever (Australia), Alexa Frantz (USA), 2009 champ Malia Manuel (Hawaii) and Alessa Quizon (Hawaii).
The Pacifico Noseriding Invitational (longboarding competition) qualifying round takes place at noon Saturday at Surf Stadium. Invited to this year's competition is 1960s surf legend David Nuuhiwa, who in 2005 was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame as Surf Champion. Nuuhiwa, born in Hawaii but now living in Huntington Beach, is known as an icon of the noseriding era.
The Pacifico Noseriding Invitational ($10,000 prize purse) final is at noon Sunday.
Skate and BMX competitions take place Saturday and Sunday. The Converse Coastal Carnage, featuring some of the world's most talented riders competing in a state-of-the-art skate bowl, has its final Sunday. BMX riders will go head to head in the Nike 6.0 HB BMX Pro, which concludes Sunday.