The 2015 Vans US Open of Surfing commenced this morning with clean three-to-five foot (1 - 1.5 metre) waves lighting up Huntington Beach as the men's Pro Junior division blitzed two rounds to decide the Quarterfinalists.
Costa Rica's Noe Mar McGonagle has had a stellar 2015 and the big natural-footer continued his run today, netting the day's high heat total of a 16.80 out of a possible 20 that also included the day's single high-scoring wave of a 9.33.
"I just got a really good left and got two big turns. sticking to my strategy and not over surfing," McGonagle said. "I already had a seven-something -and a six something, and the best wave of the heat came to me. I just wanted to solidify my position in the heat, and really stoked to make it through two heats today."
In addition to advancing through both rounds today, McGonagle is also competing in the men's Qualifying Series (QS) 10000 event where the young Costa Rican hopes to one day qualify for the elite Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT).
"The priority for me this year is the QS, but it's a real benefit to be able to get a couple heats in before the QS10000 and get rid of any nerves," McGonagle continued. "I'm feeling really good, and my Men's heat will be next for me in a few days."
The North Shore's Kalani David has recently evolved from preternatural talent to knocking on the door of surfing's biggest stage. The Hawaiian was electric in today's conditions, including high-flying antics that saw him vault into the Quarterfinals.
"My first wave, I just saw this perfect wave come in," David said. "I love sitting on the Pier Bowl, that is my favorite place to surf in HB. Jake Marshall and Jake Kelley already had waves before me, so I was lucky I got that wave because they got high scores on theirs. My heat this morning I had to wait till 8 minutes left to catch a wave, so it was nice to get a quick start. I stood up and it was already closing out, and just kinda last second just did it, I almost fell, my foot came off in the foam then I rode out and was like I made it yes! Then paddled out and caught a left, and backed it up!"
David's performance today gives the young natural-footer great confidence heading into tomorrow's Trials for the QS10000 event.
"Yes it does give me confidence!" David continued. "Just hoping to keep that rhythm going and just have fun! That's the secret to contest, just go out and pretend you're surfing with friends. Until there is 30 seconds left and they need a 2.00 and you have to sit on them hahahaha!"
San Clemente's Griffin Colapinto was another opening day standout, claiming two heat wins en route to the Quarterfinals.
"Barron (Mamiya) and I started under the Pier and the other guys were down the beach," Colapinto said. "Right when I got into position that left game and was able to get a good carve and a blow tail for an 8.5. I was able to back it up with another decent score and get away with the win."
"This afternoon's heat slowed down a bit from the morning, or at least in our heat it did," Colapinto said. "We were going for sixes, which I didn't think really was enough since it was a pretty gnarly heat with Josh Burke, Josh Moniz and Kyuss King. In the end, we had to kind of block Moniz a bit, because we all know he's super gnarly and can drop a big score anytime. Stoked I survived that one, and I'm excited for the Trials tomorrow."
Highlights from the Vans US Open of Surfing are available at VansUSOpenofSurfing.com as well as WorldSurfLeague.com