2011 US Open of Surfing: small surf, big aerials

Brett Simpson was eliminated in the first round of the 2011 US Open of Surfing. Last year's champion and local favourite could not cope with challenging one-to-two foot (0.5 metre) waves at Huntington Beach Pier.

While a mass of drama unfolded during men’s competition, the ASP Top 17 took to the water for non-elimination Round 3 and the action proved to be equally enticing.

Thiago Camarao and Hawaiian prodigy John John Florence were responsible for the elimination of defending event champion Brett Simpson. Camarao found a rare set-wave in his heat and capitalized on the opportunity by logging a 7-point ride to solidify his heat victory and put Simpson out of contention for a third consecutive Nike US Open of Surfing crown.

"When I paddled out I knew it was going to be gnarly with Brett (Simpson) winning the last two years and John John (Florence) having good results in the last two events," Camarao said. "I told myself I should do airs, but it never happened because it was kind of weird and small, but I just surfed and tried to go for the sets because they were the good scores. Luckily I was able to get one good set."

Bobby Martinez looked electric despite the testing conditions and took down current ASP World Title Series leader Joel Parkinson as well as former three-time US Open of Surfing Champion Rob Machado in his Round 1 heat.

"That was a hard heat for everyone," Martinez said. "I didn’t have a heat strategy, I saw Rob (Machado) over there on his peak, but if I think about it too much I forget what I’m doing. I’m going to go home tonight to rest and just come back tomorrow."

Jeremy Flores slowly built momentum throughout his heat and punctuated his win with powerful surfing on both his forehand and backhand to take the day’s highest heat-total on his last two rides of 16.10 out of 10.

"It was really hard, the waves were small and with the high tide it’s breaking close to the beach," Flores said. "It’s hard to find the proper section to hit, but I found some okay waves and did the job so I’m happy to get through. That 8 was the only right I caught, it had a pretty fun section. I’m not really and air guy, so I just tried to do my thing and throw some spray and I guess the judges liked it."

Jadson Andre relied on his signature inverted, air-reverse on a lefthand wedge in the early morning to seize the day’s highest single-wave score of an 8.33 (out of 10). The Brazilian stayed as busy as possible in his heat to fight off the uncharacteristically cold water-temps and his strategy paid off in his heat.

"I just love to come to Huntington," Andre said. "It’s one of my favorite places in the world and I feel really great out here. It was tough because the water is really cold so I was trying to catch as many waves as I could to stay warm. Luckily I was able to get a couple of waves."

Nike US Open of Surfing Round of 48 Results:
Heat 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) 15.93, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 13.23, Blake Thornton (AUS) 12.04, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 7.33
Heat 2: Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.34, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 7.60, Torrey Meister (HAW) 7.30, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 6.50
Heat 3: Richard Christie (NZL) 12.67, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.23, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.43, Pedro Henrique (BRA) 8.90
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.26, Joel Centeio (HAW) 8.70, Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.60, Chris Davidson (AUS) 7.23