Seth Moniz can seem to do no wrong. The 20-year-old came into the US Open of Surfing in second place for the season on the Qualifying Series and really needing just one more big result to make himself a sure thing to reach next season’s Championship Tour.
That big result could already be within his grasp as he moved into the quarterfinals with an insane performance Saturday in Huntington Beach, Calif. Going up against Evan Geiselman in round five, Moniz built some speed on a left and took to the air with a smooth and massive reverse, coming down in the white water. Defying all obvious laws of physics, he disappeared for a few seconds but then emerged still on his board, thrusting his arms into the air for the crowd and then pumping his fists just for himself.
In the physical world that we occupy, it should have been a perfect 10, but the 9.83 was still good enough to pull in front and advance. Moniz is next set to take on hometown boy and defending champion Kanoa Igarashi, so he may need to pull out another trick or two.
Moniz is guaranteed a fifth-place result and at least 5,200 rankings points, which would bump him up to 17.750 for the year. Last season, Ezekiel Lau finished 10th on the QS with 16,750 points, so Moniz’s total already looks like it could have him on the CT, but it’s still just August and he’ll have even more opportunities to increase that total beyond this week.
Moniz wasn’t the only Oahu product making waves Saturday. North Shore phenom Barron Mamiya finished off his stellar week by winning the US Open Pro Junior Men’s event. Mamiya, 18, emerged from the 64-surfer field to raise the trophy and continue to prove his mettle as one of the best juniors in the world.
Not to be outdone, Zoe McDougall from Sunset Beach took down the Pro Junior Women’s contest in a very tight finish against Maui wahine Summer Macedo. McDougall, 18, has been continuing her rise through the ranks the past two seasons. She’s currently 24th on the QS leaderboard after finishing last season in 20th. All that’s been missing has been a major finish at an elite event, but that seems to be on the horizon.
The women’s Championship Tour contest has moved into the quarterfinal round, but Carissa Moore is Hawaii’s only surfer remaining in the field. Moore survived a second-round elimination matchup with Paige Hareb and then advanced through the third round, which will set up a matchup against Nikki Van Dijk.
A pair of former US Open champions suffered early exits as Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb were each knocked in round three. Manuel placed third behind Van Dijk and current points leader Stephanie Gilmore. Weston-Webb couldn’t outpoint Courtney Conlogue and Caroline Marks.
For Tati, this breaks the streak of five straight contests in which she had reached at least the semifinals. That was the longest such streak for any woman at any point this season.
This contest may solidify Gilmore and Lakey Peterson as the only two true world title contenders. Weston-Webb entered in third place, but trailing Gilmore by just over 10,000 points. With Gilmore and Peterson both still in the field, they are only going to increase that margin and are already guaranteed fifth-place points. Unless someone like Moore or Marks were to go on an ultimate heater and perhaps win at least three of these four remaining contests, including this one, Gilmore and Peterson have separated themselves enough to focus solely on one another.
With the Junior events complete, eight surfers remain in both the men’s QS 10,000 and the women’s CT fields. Today’s finals day will close the book on Surf City’s week in the spotlight and we’ll see whether it’s Gilmore or Peterson who takes the yellow jersey into next month’s Surf Ranch debut.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.