It has been a long week of competition down at the Huntington Beach Pier. A steady stream of southwest, and occasional westerly wind swell kept waves at a contestable size for the entire event. Sunday’s heats saw their fair share of lulls, making it a little more difficult for the competitors. With a decreasing swell, early morning heats were set to start on the lower tide. Luckily, there were still pulses of swell as the tide filled in that allowed for some good and excellent scores from the men and women.
Kolohe Andino (USA) was the only competitor to take first place in every single heat he surfed throughout the US Open. The young Hurley rider began made it to the final after beating fellow WCT surfer Adriano de Souza (BRA). The first exchange allowed Andino to execute three turns and De Souza only completed two. With similar waves their scores came out to an 6.83 and an 6.27 respectively. Then Andino was able to capitalize on a left into the pier, executing two powerful snaps, for a 7.83 that kept De Souza chasing the score the rest of the heat.
Heat 2 saw mostly average scores between Bede Durbidge (AUS) and Michel Bourez (PYF). Durbidge needed a 5.61 and squeaked by with a 5.67 on two snaps into the pier to regain and hold the lead. Bourez could not get the score he needed with lulls plaguing the end of the heat.
It might be intimidating to be the only non-WCT surfer in the quarterfinals of the largest surfing event in the world, with the largest prize purse on the line, but Matt Banting (AUS) was not feeling the pressure. Banting took down world number one Jordy Smith (ZAF) in an exciting way, leaving Smith chasing a 5.48 in the last minutes. Unfortunately for the newly engaged South African, he came up short.
Muniz and Hurley teammate Nat Young (USA) were set to have an impressive heat. However, Young was left trailing the entire heat, needing a high score of an 8.81 and Muniz took the win.
The ocean came alive a little more for the semifinals. Andino opened up his heat against Durbidge with a solid left, giving him a score or 6.83. Durbo’s second wave was a heavy layback single maneuver for a 5.83. Andino later was able to better his first wave on a left with a 7.17, and Durbidge couldn’t come up with an 8.17.
The final for the men was yet another heat afflicted by a long lull at the end, with a majority of high scoring rides in the first half of the heat. However, Muniz was a dominating force starting it off with an 8.43 on a long connecting right. He pulled off two powerful snaps and a couple of nice carves out the back. To back his first wave up, the Brazilian got a left into the pier and threw a vertical slash and floated the end for a 7.80. Sadly, for the San Clemente native, a ten minute period of no waves left him with no opportunities for an excellent score.
Muniz is the first Brazilian to ever win the US Open of Surfing as Nico Padaratz won the WCT event, the Gotcha Pro in Huntington Beach in 1999. There is no doubt that the surfing community of Brazil is elated with pride and will be ready to celebrate for a few days.
Congratulations to both Muniz and Andino for their excellent performances throughout the event.