Simpson repeats as men's champ

Brett Simpson is The $100,000 Man.

Again.

Just after noon Sunday, right about the time the sun began to break through the heavy overcast sky, 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 southside and top of the Huntington Beach Pier.

A sweeter sound there wasn't for the 25-year-old, a graduate of Huntington Beach High School: He had just won the coveted Men's title of the U.S. Open of Surfing presented by Hurley, Nike 6.0 and Converse, for a second straight year.

Simpson defeated South African Jordy Smith in the two-man final.

"This is stuff you probably don't even dream about," said Simpson, who was mobbed as he exited the water and then carried up the beach to his rightful place at center stage. "It's pretty unbelievable, unimaginable, really.

"To win it last year was incredible. To win today is just the icing on the cake."

By winning back-to-back titles, Simpson became the first athlete to win the U.S. Open Men's crown in consecutive years. He joins Andy Irons of Hawaii as a two-time winner in the event. Only one other athlete, Rob Machado (Cardiff-by-the-Sea) has won more U.S. Open titles (three).

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 at his home break at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

Simpson was steady throughout the 35-minute 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, he scored a 6.20 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 win the first semifinal of the day. Somehow, Simpson and nine-time world champion Kelly Slater (Florida) topped the Smith-Fanning heat by staging a neck-and-neck duel in the second semifinal that ended with Simpson winning the heat by the slimmest of margins, 13.37-13.33.

Simpson's title victory Sunday 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 was 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 Men's Pro Junior final was won by Evan Geiselman of Florida, who took the heat by holding off second-place Aleo Muniz of Brazil. An interference call against Muniz earlier in the heat affected his final score. Third place went to Kolohe Andino (San Clemente) and fourth place to Miguel Pupo (Brazil). Pupo had competed against Smith earlier in the day in the first heat of the Men's division quarterfinals.

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WOMEN'S TITLE

On Aug. 2, it was announced that the winner of the Women's final would walk away with a record $50,000. No wonder Carissa Moore of Hawaii was all smiles Saturday as she made her way through a wall of well-wishers along the shoreline.

Moore, who turns 18 at the end of the month, emerged from a frustrating waiting game in a finals heat against Sally Fitzgibbons of Australia, to win the six-star Women's title.

"This is definitely one of my sweeter wins," said Moore, who had just captured the biggest first-place prize in women's surfing history.

Moore has won just about every contest under the sun, but Saturday marked her first time as a U.S. Open of Surfing champion.

"It was strange out there," she said of the conditions. "We had to wait and wait. I knew Sally had some really low scores, but I had to concentrate on myself. I'm glad I caught that last wave."

Moore actually had the heat won before that last wave, where she tubed just inside the south side of the pier, about 30 yards away from shore as the final horn sounded.

Unlike last year, solid surf conditions never materialized. On the fourth set that came in during the finals heat, Moore was able to catch a ride that resulted in a 4.83 score. Fitzgibbons, ranked second on the World Tour, never got the opportunity to shine, but Moore took advantages of her opportunities, no matter how few they were.

"When I got to the semis, I was stoked just to get that far," said Moore, who is ranked No. 8 on the World Tour. "Anything else would be a cherry on top. I was just going out there today to have a good time. It's an honor to win the U.S. Open."

An hour before Moore's triumph, 19-year-old Sage Erickson of Ventura won the $10,000 Women's Pro Junior title. She won the finals heat over defending champion Malia Manuel (Hawaii), third-place Coco Ho (Hawaii) and reigning Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Junior Champion Laura Enever (Australia) who finished fourth.

Winner's Circle

The men and women who have won at the U.S. Open of Surfing:

Men

2010: Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach)

2009: Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach)

2008: Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard)

2007: C.J. Hobgood (Florida)

2006: Rob Machado (Cardiff)

2005: Andy Irons (Hawaii)

2004: Taj Burrow (Australia)

2003: Cory Lopez (Florida)

2002: Kalani Robb (Hawaii)

2001: Rob Machado (Cardiff)

2000: Sunny Garcia (Hawaii)

1999: Shea Lopez (San Clemente)

1998: Andy Irons (Hawaii)

1997: Beau Emerton (Australia)

1996: Kelly Slater (Florida)

1995: Rob Machado (Cardiff)

1994: Shane Beschen (San Clemente)

Women

2010: Carissa Moore (Hawaii)

2009: Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana)

2008: Malia Manuel (Hawaii)

2007: Stephanie Gilmore (Australia)

2006: Sofia Mulanovich (Peru)

2005: Julia Christian (San Diego)

2004: Chelsea Georgeson (Australia)

2003: Chelsea Georgeson (Australia)

2002: Pauline Menczer (Australia)

2001: Pauline Menczer (Australia)

2000: Titav Tavares (Brazil)

1999: Keala Kennelly (Hawaii)

1998: Tita Tavares (Brazil)

1997: Lisa Andersen (Florida)

1996: Layne Beachley (Australia)

1995: Neridah Falconer (Australia)

1994: Lisa Andersen (Florida)

Men's Pro Junior

2010: Evan Geiselman (Florida)

2009: Kai Barger (Hawaii)

2008: Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente)

2007: Tonino Benson (Hawaii)

2006: Ben Dunn (Australia)

2005: Hank Gaskell (Hawaii)

2004: Adriano de Souza (Brazil)

2003: Kekoa Bacalso (Hawaii)

2002: Kekoa Bacalso (Hawaii)

2001: Bobby Martinez (Santa Barbara)

2000: Paulo Moura (Brazil)

1999: Travis Logie (South Africa)

Women's Pro Junior

2010: Sage Erickson (Ventura)

2009: Malia Manuel (Hawaii)

2008: Coco Ho (Hawaii)

2006: Lee Ann Curran (France/California)

2005: Nikita Robb (South Africa)

U.S. Open of Longboarding

2008: Taylor Jensen (Encinitas)

2007: Colin McPhillips (San Clemente)

2006: Dodger Kremel (Huntington Beach)

2005: Joel Tudor (Del Mar)

2004: Brendan White (San Clemente)

2003: Taylor Jensen (Imperial Beach)

2002: Joel Tudor (Del Mar)

2001: Josh Baxter (San Clemente)

2000: Joel Tudor (Cardiff)

1999: Joel Tudor (Cardiff)

1998: Joel Tudor (Cardiff)

1997: Joel Tudor (Cardiff)

1996: Joel Tudor (Cardiff)

1995: Joel Tudor (Cardiff)

1994: Colin McPhillips (Capistrano Beach)

U.S. Open of Bodyboarding

1999: Guilherme Tamega (Brazil)

1998: Guilherme Tamega (Brazil)

1997: Brian Wise (San Clemente)

1996: Ben Holland (Australia)

1995: Spencer Skipper (Hawaii)

1994: Guilherme Tamega (Brazil)

Women's Bodyboarding

2001: Daniela Freitas (Brazil)

1996: Daniela Freitas (Brazil)

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