Three hundred world-class athletes—including the planet’s top surfers—took over Huntington Beach over the past nine days for a celebration of surfing and surf culture. There were outdoor movie showings, athlete meet-and-greets, concerts, and art installations.
Oh, and a lot of badass surfing.
It was the biggest surf event in North America this year and, now that it’s over, we wanted to hit you with results and highlights for anyone not fortunate enough to be in the area.
“Spoiler” alert: It was a special time for homegrown talent.
The Sunday finals of the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing saw two women left standing: current World #1 (and 6x world champion!), Stephanie Gilmore, versus Huntington Beach’s own Courtney Conlogue.
Spicing up this storyline is the fact that Conlogue was returning from injury. Despite this, she never pressed or appeared anxious. Instead, she wisely sat back and let Gilmore come out of the gate with fervor, the latter catching waves almost immediately but posting only decent scores. Conversely, Conlogue leveraged her knowledge of the area and wave behavior, grabbing and slicing the hell out of one of the best waves the final heat had to offer.
Ultimately, it led to a thrilling comeback victory for Conlogue.
"It's so great performing in front of my hometown," said Conlogue following the big win. "We spend so much time traveling during the season, and when you get your hometown vibe, there's nothing like it. You just absorb all that energy and use it as fuel for your fire."
"The win in 2009 was quite amazing for that time in my life, and now this one has its own special meaning for me. Coming back from injury, it's the first event I've felt 100 percent. Both of these wins here have been amazing and unforgettable.”
While Gilmore had to settle for runner-up, she managed to increase her lead in the 2018 World Title race.
It was a huge weekend for hometown heroes.
Like the women’s competition, the top of the podium on the men’s side was represented by Huntington Beach local, Kanoa Igarashi. He defeated Griffin Colapinto in an enthralling final, becoming the first back-to-back men’s U.S. Open winner since fellow Huntington Beach native, Brett Simpson.
The men’s final was a truly wild back-and-forth affair that opened with Colapinto scoring an impressive 8.00. The heat was on, and Igarashi’s initial 7.60 left him at a disadvantage. But he seized a chance in the waning minutes of the competition, stomping a reverse and laying claim to an 8.17 score in the final heat.
"That was the best heat I've ever had," exclaimed Igarashi. "On that last wave, I don't know, I felt like something just took over me and whatever I was going to do on that wave I was going to land it. When I stood up on that wave I knew I already had the score.”
"The whole contest I was just thinking about this final heat. I paced myself the whole time and let it all out at the end. It was a really hard heat, the waves were slow, but I just believed that Huntington was going to give me the waves and it did.”
Next week, the WSL Championship Tour reconvenes in beautiful Teahupoʻo, Tahiti in French Polynesia for the men’s Tahiti Pro. We’ll have pre- and post-coverage of that event starting this Friday, August 10!