Brett Simpson won his second U.S. Open of Surfing championship in as many years, the only surfer to repeat at this event since Mark Occhilupo did it in 1985 and '86. He's also the first local to take the prize in the tournament's over 50-year history.
He did it in dominating fashion, too. Recap and photos of Simpson's victory, after the jump.
Brett Simpson get's the hero's treatment after his second win at the Open.
All photos by John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
Simpson took control in his finals heat against the number one ranked surfer in the world, Michael "Jordy" Smith of South Africa, when he grabbed an early lead off impressive waves and didn't let go.
Smith struggled in this matchup, failing to connect on many of his maneuvers. Simpson, on the other hand, seemed energized by his hometown crowd, who cheered him on at every opportunity.
Simpson's commanding lead, 13.97 points to Smith's 8.33, proved insurmontable. Once time elapsed, the HB crowd knew that it was their hometown favorite who had won. As the thousands of spectators roared their approval, Simpson raised his hands in victory out on the ocean.
Some will call it a storybook moment. Others will say it was destiny. But for Simpson, his second win at the Open was all for his hometown and his family.
"This is amazing, man. I'll take this one for HB all day," he said at the awards presentation immediately after his victory.
Simpson competed against the best in the world and came out on top. In the quarter-finals, he faced 2008 Open champion Nathaniel Curran and beat him by a slim margin. In the semi-finals he defeated the greatest surfer of all time, Kelly Slater, in another narrow victory.
His greatest win, however, was in the finals, when he defeated Smith by more than five points.
Besides being at his home beach, winning another title at Huntington Beach has other perks as well, like getting carried off the beach like a quarterback who threw the game-winning touchdown at Homecoming.
"Its been a special one, just to surf against all these guys. I've never had the opportunity to try to go back-to-back, to uh, what's the word..." he said, trailing off. He searched for the words but he couldn't find them. He got the assist from his father, Bill, shouting from the back of the press conference.
"To defend your title!" he yelled, beaming with pride at his son's accomplishment.
"Yeah, that's right, defend your title," the younger Simpson said, smiling.
Despite its thrilling finish, the finals heat wasn't very exciting to start. For about the first five minutes, there wasn't a wave in sight.
On his first wave, Simpson attempted a huge rotation but couldn't complete it. Smith was more conservative, pulling off a few slashes across the wave to build up his points.
Simpson took this same approach on his second wave, and earned huge points for it. Smith got a ton of air off his second wave, but couldn't land the jump. Simpson built up his lead with a few more impressive waves and steadily put himself far out of Smith's reach.
Shameless self-promotion? Guilty as charged.
Simpson's win earned him the largest prize in competitive surfing, $100,000, and immortality in the hearts of Huntington Beach residents. The way things are going for him, he could make his career out of winning at Surf City U.S.A. The locals wouldn't think any less of him for it.