Kauai Surfers fall short at U.S. Open of Surfing

It probably wasn’t the accumulation of finishes that the large group of Kauai surfers had hoped for at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. The week’s festivities wrap up today when the Men’s and Women’s Pro events have their finals, while the Junior Men and Junior Women crowned their champs Saturday.

The one podium appearance for a Kauai surfer was achieved by Tatiana Weston-Webb, who added to her amazing summer haul with a third-place finish in the Junior Women’s final. Tati made it through the talented field and into the final alongside eventual champion Bianca Biutendag, second-place finisher Nikki Van Dijk and fourth-place finisher Frankie Harrer. Tati snapped off an 8.00 early in the final heat, but couldn’t match Biutendag’s 8.83 and 9.27 that lander her at the top of the medal stand.

The bronze comes on the heels of a silver at the Surfing America USA Championships and a gold at the International Surfing Association World Junior Championships.

The Women’s Junior Pro featured six Kauai wahine, with Leila Hurst taking an Equal 5th with a semifinal appearance. Brianna Cope and Mainei Kinimaka each made it into the quarterfinals, Brianna taking an Equal 9th and Mainei taking an Equal 13th. Nage Melamed and Maluhia Kinimaka also made their way into the field, but were eliminated in the opening round.

The Men’s Junior Pro was won by Santa Barbara’s Conner Coffin and the best Kauai finish went to Kaimana Jaquias, who reached the quarterfinals to take an Equal 13th. Koa Smith made it to the Round of 32, but had a slow heat for an Equal 25th. Despite six of Hawaii’s young surfers reaching the final 16 in the quarterfinals, none made it all the way to the final for a shot at the title.

The Women’s Pro event, which is the sixth of eight ASP World Championship Tour stops, narrowed its field down to the final four surfers determining a champion today. Oahu’s Carissa Moore is still in the mix and will take on France’s Pauline Ado in one semifinal, while the other features current ASP women’s No. 1 Tyler Wright and California’s Courtney Conlogue.

Kauai’s Alana Blanchard made it into the fourth round, but fell to Ado and takes an Equal 9th place finish. It should help to keep Blanchard right around her current standing of a tie for 10th place in the WCT rankings.

Malia Manuel had a heartbreaking exit, scoring the second round’s third-best heat total (15.27), but still falling to Laura Enever (16.37). The Equal 13th place will drop the Kauai surfer below Blanchard in the rankings, but her strong World Rankings scores keep her in decent position to maintain a spot on next season’s tour.

Hurst received a Wild Card entry into the Women’s Pro, along with her entrance into the Junior event. She was narrowly knocked out in the second round by Wright, 12.66 to 12.00, for an Equal 13th.

The Men’s Pro event is down to eight surfers in the quarterfinals. Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz made a solid run, reaching the Round of 24 in the 124-surfer field. He was knocked out by Brazil’s Jadson Andre for an Equal 17th place. An 8.87 for Seabass in the Round of 48 is the seventh-highest wave score of the event, entering today’s action.

Kauai’s Gavin Gillette made it out of his opening heat, but was then eliminated in the second round.

Though not a WCT event for the men, the final eight do still contain some of the sport’s biggest names. Those still vying for the title are Adriano De Souza, Kolohe Andino, Bede Durbidge, Michel Bourez, Jordy Smith, Matt Banting, Nat Young and Alejo Muniz.

• ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in The Garden Island. Email David Simon your comments or questions to dsimon@thegardenisland.com. Follow David on Twitter @SimonTGI

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