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SURFING / U.S. OPEN : Beschen’s Meal Turns Out to Be a Breakfast of Champions

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Shane Beschen wanted to stay light on his feet going into his second-round heat Thursday at the U.S. Open of Surfing.

So it was understandable why Beschen, a few hours before his do-or-die heat, ate a light breakfast. Any edge could make a difference in whether Beschen surfed today or packed his boards and went home to San Clemente.

“When the waves are this small, you can’t be heavy on the board. You have to be light,” said Beschen, the defending champion and the ninth-ranked surfer on the World Tour. “I didn’t want to eat a big breakfast.”

Whether Beschen’s diet played a factor in his surfing is unclear, but he defeated Piu Pereira of Brazil, 28.1-26.4, and advanced to the third round.

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On Wednesday, Beschen was nervous and unhappy with a third-place finish. But after winning his heat Thursday, Beschen seemed confident for today’s round.

“I feel a little better than yesterday,” said Beschen, who had one of the day’s highest scores (8.5). “I went left and did a bunch of stuff off the lip. I guess the judges liked it.”

Beschen said he tries to watch the heats before he surfs to see what impresses the judges.

“Sometimes I do the same things the judges score high on. But sometimes I just do something else. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” he said.

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Beschen will be surfing today against Australia’s Mark Bannister.

As the day wore on, the south swell that was providing some decent waves early in the morning subsided after the ninth heat.

Unfortunately for Huntington Beach’s Mike Parsons, he was overtaken in the light surf.

With about 10 minutes left in their heat, Australian Luke Egan needed a wave of 5.1 or better to eliminate Parsons, who led most of the 25-minute heat. As the seconds ticked away, Egan scanned the horizon for anything that would give him the winning wave.

Egan caught a wave but was only awarded 5.0 by the judges. But a few minutes later, another wave came through and Egan was able to execute enough maneuvers to score 5.2 and win the heat.

“I was very lucky to get that wave,” Egan said. “But it’s tough. Mike and I are really good friends and it’s tough to win like that.”

Parsons, 34th on the World Tour, thought maybe Egan’s last score was too high.

“But hey, I’m sure everybody who doesn’t win thinks the same thing,” Parsons said. “It’s hard, because Luke and I are very close. When I’m in Australia, I stay at his place, and when he’s here, he stays with me. But we both want to win.”

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Parsons said because he had a poor day surfing Wednesday, he was fired up for Thursday’s competition. “I wanted to redeem myself today,” Parsons said. “But there were no waves out there and I was catching everything in sight. Unfortunately for me, Luke got more waves than me.”

Coming off a disappointing Op Pro last week, Pat O’Connell of Laguna Niguel was feeling chipper after advancing. O’Connell scored an 8.5 and an overall score of 26.14. O’Connell will meet Flavio Padaratz of Brazil today in the third round.

Also advancing was Cardiff surfer Rob Machado and Op Pro champion Sunny Garcia, who will face Nathan Webster of Australia.

Kalani Robb of Kapolei, Hawaii, easily beat Richie Collins of Costa Mesa to advance and Stewart Bedford-Brown, with the day’s highest score (8.7), beat Conan Hayes of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, who was competing in his first U.S. Open.

The third round starts at 7 a.m. today.

In heats 5 and 6 of the first-round of men’s main event longboarding, Brendan White, 15, from San Clemente, won his heat to advance to the quarterfinals. Quarterfinals begin this afternoon at 5.


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