Brett Simpson repeats as men's champ at U.S. Open of Surfing

HUNTINGTON BEACH - Brett Simpson is the $100,000 man. Again. Just after noon today, right about the time the sun began to break through the heavy overcast, the Huntington Beach native thrust his arms high into the air at the sound of the final horn, directing his triumphant pose toward the massive throng that packed the south side and top of the Huntington Beach Pier, knowing that he had just won the Men's title of the U.S. Open of Surfing presented by Hurley, Nike 6.0 and Converse for a second-straight year. He defeated South African Jordy Smith in the two-man final. "This is stuff you probably don't even dream about," Simpson said of becoming a back-to-back U.S. Open champion. "It's pretty unbelievable, unimaginable, really. To win it last year was incredible. To win today is just the icing on the cake." The men's finale couldn't have been scripted any better. It pitted a local athlete, SImpson, against Smith, the No. 1-ranked men's surfer in the world who was coming off winning the Billabong Pro last month on his home break at Jeffreys Bay. Simpson was steady throughout the 35-minue heat. He trailed Smith early but took the lead for good at the halfway mark when he utilized his advantage on priority to post a 7.77 wave score. He then basically sealed the win when, again holding priority, scored a 6.2 with six minutes remaining for his second-highest score of the heat. Smith needed a 9.64 score down the stretch to win it, but never got the chance in the sometimes flat surf. "I try to go for safe and conservative rides to build my score, and that's what I did today," Simpson said. "I know the waves here and I stayed confident. I was in a lot of close heats and that helped me build that confidence as the contest went on." Simpson and Smith,however, were fortunate to make it to the final. Earlier in the day, Smith shaded Mick Fanning of Australia, 13.00-12.80, to in the first semifinal of the day. Simpson and nine-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) then topped that but staging a neck-and-neck duel in the second semifinal with Simpson scoring a 6.27 on his last wave, to win the heat by the slimmest of margins, 13.37-13.33. Simpson's title victory today again drew a roar of approval from the crowd. "I have so many family and friends here and the people out here are incredible," he said, motioning to the crowd. "It's so nice to win this two years in a row. The only adversity I faced is that I wanted to back up my result from last year. That was the toughest thing for me. And I was able to do it. "Just to be able to represent this city, Surf City, in this contest is incredible. It's a huge honor to be a part of all this." Prior to Simpson winning the men's title, and following the day's pattern of close heats, the $10,000 2-star Men's Pro Junior final was won by Evan Geiselman of Florida who took the heat by just 0.03 over second-place Aleo Muniz of Brazil. An interference call against Muniz earlier in the heat affected his final score and ended up costing him the title. Third-place went to Kolohe Andino (USA) and fourth-place to Miguel Pupo of Brazil. Pupo had competed against Jordy Smith earlier in the day in the first heat of the Men's division quarterfinals. Today's competition ended the nine-day run of the U.S. Open of Surfing.

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