Defending event champion Julian Wilson putting in a strong Round 1 performance. Credit: ASP/ROWLAND

The highly-anticipated Vans US Open of Surfing kicked off in pulsing four-to-six foot waves at Huntington Beach Pier yesterday, setting the stage for plenty tightly fought match offs in what is considered the most coveted/glamorous Prime event of the year.

Highlights came from a handful of CT surfers putting on dominant Round 1 performances, namely Kelly, Michel Bourez and last year's winner Julian Wilson.

Kelly revelled in the windy afternoon conditions, notching the day’s high scores with surgical wave selection. The iconic regular-footer took to the lefts breaking into the Pier, earning an 8.00 for a committed backhand tube, backing the ride up with the day’s high single-wave score of 8.67 for several polished backhand turns.

“There are a few barrels out there," Slater said. “There’s a lot going on and it’s a busy week and you kind of hope for those morning glassy heats, especially when there’s some swell. There’s some energy out there now, but it’s really windy so you’ve got to wait for the second, third or fourth wave and that’s where I got that barrel."

The two-time event champion went on to explain how the combination of a highly competitive field and energy from spectators makes the Vans US Open of Surfing a one of a kind event.

“This event has a long history," Slater said “You get the best juniors, best pros and it’s one of the best fields of the year as far as Primes go," Slater said. “It’s a competitive contest. You get guys that you don’t see in lots of contests and they’ll do well, young guys busting big airs and then the crowds can be intimidating, but you get used to it after awhile."

Off the back of his great performance in Bali, Michel Bourez was also looking very relaxed and stormed through his opening heat, unloading powerful backhand combinations to take an impressive 16.00 heat total.

“I’m just back from Bali and waves were amazing over there," Bourez said. “The waves were amazing out here for my heat too. Following Bali, I went home and was training at a beachbreak to get used to similar conditions and it worked well. I’m just here to have fun, see my sponsors and surf this event, it’s one of the biggest of the year and also to see the crowd."

Euro WQS competitors faired well on the first day of competition, with Aritz Aranburu, Hodei Collazo, Charly Martin, Adrien Toyon and Ramzi Boukhiam all progressing through to the next round (Canary Islander Jonathan Gonzalez and Frenchman Joan Duru being the only casualties so far). Other highly touted Euros Marc Lacomare and Maxime Huscenot didn't yet surf, with the remaining six heats of the round set to run when competition resumes today (7:30am local time).

Tune into the live webcast via http://www.usopenofsurfing.com/surf/


Heat 1: Chris Ward (USA) 12.83, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.14, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.77, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 6.60

Heat 2: Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.50, Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 12.06, Luke Davis (USA) 8.76, Adam Melling (AUS) 8.20

Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.70, Adrien Toyon (FRA) 11.20, Jay Thompson (AUS) 11.20, Marlon Lipke (PRT) 9.10

Heat 4: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.76, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 13.30, Dylan Graves (PRI) 12.26, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.90

Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.77, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.03, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.93, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 12.10

Heat 6: Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 14.10, Brett Simpson (USA) 13.83, Stu Kennedy (AUS) 11.76, Olamana Eleogram (HAW) 7.77

Heat 7: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.60, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 11.64, Torrey Meister (HAW) 11.00, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 6.84

Heat 8: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.00, Dane Reynolds (USA) 12.40, Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.07, Joan Duru (FRA) 10.44

Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.33, Nathaniel Curran (USA) 8.80, Mason Ho (HAW) 8.74, Messias Felix (BRA) 8.20

Heat 10: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.50, Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 12.14, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 9.40, Andrew Doheny (USA) 8.14

Heat 11: Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 12.60, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 10.30, Chris Friend (AUS) 9.33, Cory Arrambide (USA) 8.54

Heat 12: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.67, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 11.80, Heath Joske (AUS) 8.46, Jean Da Silva (BRA )8.13

Heat 13: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.20, Garrett Parkes (AUS) 11.97, Heitor Alves (BRA) 11.94, Nathan Hedge (AUS) 6.70

Heat 14: Dion Atkinson (AUS) 10.20, Cory Lopez (USA) 9.84, Victor Done (USA) 9.43, Ricardo Dos Santos (BRA) 6.24

Heat 15: Granger Larsen (HAW) 12.67, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 8.57, Conner Coffin (USA) 7.53, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 7.24

Heat 16: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 13.00, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 12.77, Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.70, Kai Otton (AUS) 10.16

Heat 17: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.23, Sunny Garcia (HAW) 11.50, Brian Toth (PRI) 7.50, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 7.23

Heat 18: Michael Dunphy (USA) 12.56, Charles Martin (GLP) 11.37, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.23, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 10.00