Brett Simpson is eliminated at Nike U.S. Open of Surfing
When the horn sounded, Brett Simpson pounded his fist against his surfboard. His time was up. He had become yet another local legend who failed to three-peat this year.
The two-time defending champion at the Nike U.S. Open of Surfing had placed third in his heat and was eliminated Wednesday at the Huntington Beach competition.
Simpson finished with 10.24 points, trailing first-place Thiago Camarao of Brazil (13.17) and second-place John John Florence of Hawaii (12.26). The top two finishers in each heat advance to the next round.
"I had opportunities, you know, I made a mistake on a decent wave that I was setting up good and I freaking barreled," Simpson said. "Out there right now, you don't get a ton of opportunities, and when you get them, you've got to make them count. I didn't do that."
As he emerged from the ocean, eyes cast down, a handful of admirers gathered around him and cheered.
When Simpson won the competition and its $100,000 men's crown prize last August, he became the first person to repeat since Mark Occhilupo in 1985-86.
Not even Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith or Mike Fanning had accomplished such a feat, even though they are currently ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the world, respectively, while Simpson entered the competition ranked No. 18.
"I got great support here and win, lose, draw, I'm stoked," he said. "I'll be back next year to get it."
The men's and women's semifinal and final heats are Sunday.
-- Melissa Rohlin