The U.S. Open of Surfing is in full swing in Huntington Beach this week, with Red Bull surfers Carissa Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons racking up heat wins in their opening rounds to advance to Friday’s Quarterfinals.
After dual triumphs in the Round of 48, the pair moved on to the next round, with Carissa facing some formidable talent. She emerged victorious in the paramount heat which split first and third places by less than one point. The Hawaiian prodigy unleashed flashy tail-drifting turns while finishing strong on the inside to take out the win.
“It was a Round 3 heat with Steph (Gilmore), Laura (Enever) and Courtney (Conlogue) that could have very well been a Final,” Moore said. “You have the World Champion (Gilmore) and defending event champion (Conlogue), so it was just crazy. Every one of those girls just rips and especially with the conditions out here, it’s a little random, so everyone can do anything at anytime.”
Moore’s massive heat victory also keeps her in the running for the historic $50,000 prize-purse in place for this year’s Women’s US Open of Surfing winner, the largest in women’s professional surfing history.
“It’s pretty crazy that Nike decided to step up and put 50 grand for first place for the girls,” Moore said. “I think it’s awesome. There’s a lot more on the line and a lot more excitement and I think it’s great to have them support us like that.”
Fitzgibbons, current ASP Women’s Dream Tour No. 2, detonated the event’s highest scores in her Round of 24 heat, blasting a near-perfect 9.00 out of 10 while accumulating the highest heat total of 17.17 out of 20.
“It’s good to get two rounds out of the way,” Fitzgibbons said. “I was feeling really good out there and in rhythm of the sets. It was fun out there.”
Fitzgibbons, who has three consecutive runner-up finishes in the last three ASP Women’s World Title events and was the winner of the Portuguese-based ASP 6-Star event earlier this season, also has her eye on the landmark $50,000 prize purse but knows there is still a long road ahead.
“It’s super early days, but it’s fantastic that Nike has put up the money,” Fitzgibbons said. “It makes it all the more exciting. There is a long way to go yet, but it’d be a nice incentive.”
It proved to be a nice incentive indeed, as Sally continued to assert her dominance the following day by again unleashing the highest wave score, also a near-perfect 9.00 out of 10 despite the tricky decreasing swell on offer.
“The swell has dropped this morning,” she said. “It’s a bit smaller for the Round of 12, but I was able to get a few high scores. The 9 was one of the bigger waves and it was a bit bowlier and offered two big turns. I just tried to go big on it and I’m happy to move through to the Quarterfinals.”
“It’d be nice to make a Final here; I haven’t made a Final here at the US Open. Huntington is one of those challenging waves that would be pretty cool to master and with that extra incentive, people are pushing the level.”
Moore was also victorious in the Round of 12, knocking out Lakey Peterson and Chantelle Rautenbach to earn her place in the Quarterfinals, which are scheduled for 11:28 a.m. on Friday.