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Category: Surfing

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."

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Brett Simpson wins U.S. Open of Surfing


Brett Simpson won the U.S. Open of Surfing in his hometown of Huntington Beach this afternoon in front of an estimated crowd of 140,000.

Simpson recorded scores of 7.83 and 9.10 in the second and third waves, respectively.

His 16.93 score bested Australia's Mick Fanning, who finish with 12.50 (5.00 and 7.50).

Below is a clip from the press conference. For more coverage, also visit

-- Mario Aguirre

Photo: Brett Simpson lifts the record $100,000 check for winning the U.S. Open of Surfing men's final. Credit: Mario Aguirre / Los Angeles Times

Kelly Slater loses in U.S. Open quarterfinals [Video]

Kelly Slater lost in this morning's U.S. Open of Surfing men's quarterfinals, an upset that paves the way for Mick Fanning (Australia) and Huntington Beach's Brett Simpson to vie for the record $100,000 purse this afternoon.

Slater left without speaking to reporters after losing in the first heat. He did, however, return to take part in the WPS All-Star Tow-in Expression Session and stopped to speak with The Times. (Video above.)

-- Mario Aguirre

Video: Kelly Slater speaks with The Times after the WPS All-Star Tow-in Expression Session. Credit: Mario Aguirre / Los Angeles Times

Brett Simpson earns wildcard for Hurley Pro


Brett Simpson scored two victories Saturday.

He became one of eight surfers vying Sunday for the record $100,000 purse in the U.S. Open of Surfing men's finals in Huntington Beach. He also earned the right to compete for a more lucrative opportunity, one with steeper competition.

Simpson secured the lone wildcard in the Hurley Pro Trials on Saturday to compete for a $340,000 purse in the upcoming Hurley Pro in Lower Trestles, San Clemente.

The week-long event scheduled to begin Sept. 13 determines the world champion. It is the only ASP World Tour event held in the U.S.

“Every event has its own trademark and Trestles is the place for high performance surfing in California,” Hurley’s Pat O’Connell, who was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame on Friday, said in a statement. “Each year, the world’s best surfers come with a free surf mentality and the desire to make their mark on one of the most rippable waves in the world.”

Forty-five surfers and third wildcards compete in the event. Hurley, the title sponsor, named Rob Machado and Kai Barger the first two wildcards. The event Saturday was designed to determine the third.

Simpson scored 14.0 to edge Julian Wilson of Australia by 0.8.

-- Mario Aguirre

Photo: Brett Wilson at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach on July 25, 2009. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images.

Slater records perfect score in U.S. Open of Surfing


Kelly Slater brushed off a slow start Friday, recovering in the middle of his heat to advance to Saturday's competition.

When the time arrived, the nine-time champion made certain he would secure his position early for tomorrow’s men's quarterfinals in the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach.

Slater scored 10s across the board on a barrel in his first wave and gradually posted solid scores (6.33, 6.83, 7.40) to ensure he will be one of eight surfers Sunday in contention for the record $100,000 purse.

Slater recorded the second perfect score in this year's tournament. Unlike Friday when he relied on a high score in the third wave to keep him in contention, his first score alone Saturday would have sufficed. His opponent, Nic Muscroft, mustered a score of 4.67 in the first wave and drastically fell from there (0.70 and 0.63).

“I think it’s the biggest wave I’ve caught in Huntington,” Slater told The Times about the first wave. “The big ones is a coin toss, really, whether you’re going to make a wave like that or not. Most of them close out quickly.”

Slater is the favorite to win the grand prize in a competition with Mick Fanning, Michael Bourez, Adriano de Souza, CJ Hobgood, Patrick Gudauskas and Nathan Curran. However, Brett Simpson, who has surfed at Huntington Beach for years, is expected to provide a sturdy challenge.

Simpson recorded scores of 8.50 and 5.00 on Saturday.

The Hurley men’s finals, which features the top two surfers vying for the title, starts Sunday at approximately 12:40 p.m.

[UPDATE - 4:40 P.M.] Courtney Conlouge today defeated Malia Manuel to win the U.S. Open of Surfing women's finals in Huntington Beach. More on later.

-- Mario Aguirre

Photo: Kelly Slater signs autographs Friday at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach. Photo credit: Mario Aguirre / The Los Angeles Times

Slater advances to U.S. Open of Surfing quarterfinals


The most casual observers can tell when a surfing legend arrives.

Usually the crowd swells, cameras flash and adoring fans trail your every move.

Kelly Slater did little Friday to drown that attention, posting scores of 9.87 and 8.93 to advance to the men’s quarterfinals in the U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach.

Slater, a nine-time world champion, amassed a tournament-best 18.80 after an uncharacteristically slow start in his first two waves (1.00 and 1.73).

“I was a little out of sync, trying to figure out if I was going to go for the big waves or just go for a few smaller ones that were open,” he told The Times.

He broke his board on the second wave – “at that point I really had to make a game plan” – and returned with a new one to record three solid scores in heat six of round 24.

Early, Slater trailed Aritz Aranburu, whom one announcer referred to as Slater’s “Kryptonite.” Aranburu was atop the three-surfer heat in the early going, posting scores of 5.17 and 8.67.

But after Slater switched boards, he scored 8.93 in the third wave, a mark that helped him gain momentum at the midway point of the heat. “At that point I fell in sync with it and I went right back out and got two more good ones.”

Slater sprinkled the finishing touches in his last heat (9.87) carving a 360-degree turn that solidified his mark Friday.

“If you get one real big score to start the heat, you’re pretty much going to come through,” Slater said matter-of-factly. “It’s really going for that one big wave and then once you have that one big score, you could go for it.”

Slater is considered the favorite to collect the record $100,00 purse, which Hurley, the tournament sponsor, upped from $20,000 last year.

-- Mario Aguirre

Photo: Kelly Slater observes the waves after advancing to the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach on July 24. Photo credit: Mario Aguirre / The Los Angeles Times.

Mavericks still lures big wave surfers despite economy

Greg Long catches a big wave at Mavericks.

You couldn't pay me to do what San Clemente's Greg Long is doing in this photograph -- surfing at Mavericks, the infamous big-wave surfing venue. It's a potentially deadly sport, as The Times' Pete Thomas reports at

And, in recent months, the economic recession has come crashing down on big-wave surfers, some of whom are in danger of losing corporate sponsorships. You get the feeling that Long and his buddies would surf anyway, but as one big-wave surfer told Pete, "dreams are being crushed" by economic realities.

Pete also blogged earlier today about the Billabong Pipeline Masters.

-- Greg Johnson

Photo: Greg Long catches a big wave at Mavericks. Credit: Robert Brown

For Kelly Slater, it's party time

It figured that Kelly Slater would lose in the fourth round of the Billabong Pro Mundaka in Spain, The Times' Pete Thomas blogs. After all, Slater is only human, although he does things that cause some people to wonder about that. 

Thomas has more on Slater, who clinched his ninth World Tour championship early this morning after winning a third-round heat against Eneko Acero, and can now breeze through the final two contests minus the pressure of a title race.

-- Debbie Goffa


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