Some have called the US Open of Surfing the Super Bowl of surfing. Others have just called it a madhouse. Either way, over the past week, more than million people made the trip to Huntington Beach – aka Surf City USA – to watch the world’s best surfers compete in this iconic event.
Today was finals day with some incredible Quarterfinal match-ups to start the day: Filipe Toledo vs. Miguel Pupo; Kelly Slater vs Dane Reynolds; Gabriel Medina vs Adriano De Souza; and John John vs Julian Wilson. I think that the most anticipated heat was Kelly vs. Dane but the ocean didn’t really cooperate and give them much to work with. Kelly won the heat 15.00 to Dane’s 9.84. But the ocean did come alive for the next heat. Medina has been showing off his aerial skills all week and landed the contest’s first perfect 10. He beat Adriano 19.2 to 16.13.
In the end, it was Miguel Pupo and Julian Wilson who made it through to the finals. Pupo, one of the rising Brazilian stars, bested Kelly in the semis and Julian squeaked by Medina in the final minutes of his semi. The ocean was pretty flat when the final started and was generally messy, choppy inconsistent waves. At one point, Kelly was up in the booth commentating and said, “What are you going to do? Get mad at the ocean?” Truth.
Julian started off strong with a 9.13 and later backed it up with a 7.5, putting Pupo in a combo situation with 15 minutes left – meaning that Pupo needed a combined score of 16.64 from two waves in order to overtake the lead. His current scored waves wouldn’t get him there. With about 11 minutes to go, Pupo gets a good set wave and sets up a nice blow tail reverse where he basically gets up and above the lip of the wave and throws his fins around towards the beach. He scores a 8.93 which gets him out of the combo situation but he still needs a 7.71 with 8 minutes to go. With 3 minutes left, both Julian and Miguel start taking off on waves and hoping to stick some airs but Julian wins it with 17.53 to Miguel’s 14.76.
On the women’s side, Lakey Peterson (10.9) defeated Carissa Moore (8.64) to win the final event of the Women’s Tour. Lakey was the runner-up last year as a wild card in the event and this is her rookie year on the tour. Lakey had been surfing really well all week and scored a perfect 10 in her semifinal against Malia Manuel.
But here’s the interesting thing, the Men’s first place prize was $100,000. You know what the Women’s first place price was? $15,000. Maybe it’s time for some parity in surfing?