Whether the waves were super or soupy, a lot of heats at the Vans US Open of Surfing were nail-biters. Would the ocean bring one more opportunity? Would that last turn be enough? Check out some of the highlight heats from a hard-fought competition in Surf City USA.
An all-Hawaiian heat determined the 2016 Vans US Open of Surfing champ. Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb kept things close until the very end. Ultimately, the point difference was just over a point.
Malia Manuel has had some heartbreaking heats this year and it looked like things were going south again when she found herself falling behind Tyler Wright in the Semis. But Malia has won in Huntington before, and this time she got the score she needed. The Hawaiian edged past Wright with a solid score under the five-minute mark and held on for the heat win. Malia hasn't seen a CT final since 2012.
Tatiana Weston-Webb hit the ground running when she reached the elite level in 2015. The young Hawaiian continues to impress. She came into the event in Huntington Beach ranked No. 6 in the world and forced the biggest upset of the event when she eliminated World No. 1 Courtney Conlogue in the Quarterfinals. Needing to stay one heat win ahead of Tyler Wright to maintain the yellow jersey, Courtney -- and in effect Tati -- left the door open for a new Jeep Leader. Wright dropped the hammer in the next heat and will head south to Trestles at the top of the rankings.
Keely Andrew hasn't had a breakout rookie season... yet. But the young Sunshine Coast native is starting to change that. For the first time as a full-time CT surfer, Andrew reached the quarterfinals, upsetting World No. 5 Sally Fitzgibbons in Round Four with a late-heat six-pointer.
Lakey Peterson's presence has been felt all year, but her return has been even more obvious. The local girl is ripping through her first event back from injury, making her mark as a title spoiler. She's putting up big scores and making life easier for herself by winning both of her non-elimination rounds. In Round Three, Peterson topped Sally Fitzgibbons and Tatiana Weston-Webb for a direct advance into the quarterfinals.
Stephanie Gilmore hasn't seen a Round Two heat since Oz and she looked shaky against Nikki Van Dijk for the first 18 minutes of their matchup. The six-time World Champ has had quarterfinal finishes across the board with the exception of a ninth-place finish in Fiji so she's been able to stay above water on the Jeep Leaderboard. An early elimination would have been devastating. But the tour vet kept her cool and dominated the last-minute exchange with Van Dijk, earning a seven pointer and a final lead change.
Keely Andrew earned her first Round Two win of 2016 with a big win against defending event champion Johanne Defay. Andrew put up two solid scores, including an excellent-range 8.00, toppling Defay with ease. "I am sick of losing in the second and I just really wanted to make that one," the rookie said in her post-heat interview. "I really love surfing beachbreaks so I want to surf more out here."
Laura Enever is truly coming into her own. After a 10-point ride and her second quarterfinal finish in Fiji, Laura is back in form at the Vans US Open. In Round Two, the New South Wales native handled World No. 9 like it was just another day at the office. Laura's last result saw her into the Top 10. A good result in Huntington could see her reach new heights on the CT rankings.
Coco Ho shot up 12 spots on the Qualifying Series after she took down the most recent event in nearby Oceanside. Now all she's missing is a big CT result. In Round One of the Vans US Open of Surfing, the Hawaiian used her momentum for an upset win over Fiji winner Johanne Defay and World No. 9 Bianca Buitendag.
Ever since Tyler Wright won the opening event of the season, no one has questioned her hunger for a World Title. But the level of women's surfing is definitely putting her to the test. Her Round One heat with Nikki Van Dijk and Chelsea Tuach at the Vans US Open of Surfing went down to the wire.
Courtney Conlogue has been determined all season. She left the Vans US Open last year with the yellow jersey but now she's wearing it for the Huntington Beach event. Sage Erickson is on the up and up, though. After a tough go in 2015, Sage is in bubble territory on the rankings. Earning a 15.06 heat total, Erickson relegated Courtney to the dreaded Round Two. Could Sage turn out to be this year's world title spoiler?
Oh Lakey Peterson, how we've missed thee. Lakey has been sidelined for the entire 2016 season thus far with a broken ankle, but in her first heat back, she quickly removed any doubt in her abilities. With the CT's arrival on her home turf, she suited up and held off Laura Enever and reigning World Champion Carissa Moore in their Round One battle. The progressive specialist is back and that can only mean one thing for the title contenders... trouble.