With more than 500 athletes across three sports competing in more than a dozen different events, the U.S. Open of Surfing can get confusing.
With all of those athletes flying through the air on planks of foam, defying the boundaries of physics and sanity, the event can also seem downright dangerous. But maybe it’s that sense of teetering on the edge of death that makes it so much fun. Plus, there’s the thrill of cheering on the home competitors.
So before you throw yourself into the spinning, diving, flying, crashing maelstrom, it might help to know which daredevils to root for. Here’s a list of the local talent who aren’t named Brett Simpson (and were still in the action as of press time):
The Gudauskases aren’t the only siblings participating in the U.S. Open this year, but they do have the most-fun-to-say family name (C.J. and Damien Hobgood are the runners-up). The San Clemente brothers back up that tongue-twister with a load of talent; in 2008, they competed against one another in the same four-man heat of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Goofyfooted Dane, 24, suffered an ankle injury earlier this year in Tasmania but is back in competitive form.
Dane’s twin, Patrick, has made a name for himself with the ASP, most notably in a near-perfect performance at the Prime Sri Lankan Airlines Pro in 2009, scoring 18.94 points of a possible 20.
Tanner, 22, is an up-and-coming rookie on the tour who is known as much for his infectious personality as his ability on a board. According to the ASP site, Tanner and Patrick are tied at 33 in the world rankings.
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It would have been a shame if any of the offspring of famed former U.S. surf champion Dino Andino didn’t become badass. Thankfully for the surfing community, Kolohe is showing off some ridiculous skills—and he’s only 16. At age 14, he was the youngest ever to win a men’s open title at a National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) event; he now has six national NSSA titles.
Ranked No. 4 in 2009 ASP North American Pro Junior Series, Capistrano Beach native Davis, 17, has often been compared to surfing legend Tom Curren. In 2005, Davis joined pro surfer Bryan Jennings and fellow grom Tyler Hallen on a globe-hopping trip of a lifetime, which became the indie documentary Walking On Water. According to Surfing magazine, “He’s certainly one of the best talents on the West Coast, with his only criticism being a lack of power—but that’s nothing that his impending growth spurt shouldn’t sort out.”
In May, Doheny took his first ASP Pro Junior victory at the 2010 Oakley Pro Junior at Trestles. In that contest, he surfed Lowers, his preferred training grounds. The 17-year-old, proud Newport Beach resident, nicknamed “Droid,” won back-to-back NSSA Open Junior National championships in 2007 and ’08 before joining the ASP North America Pro Junior circuit.