With 5 minutes left in the men’s final of the U.S. Open of Surf, Kanoa Igarashi needed a 7.41 to take the lead from Griffin Colapinto. The waves were had been relatively flat that afternoon in Huntington Beach, and the likelihood of a good three to five foot set was fading as the clock ticked toward zero. Igarashi had been in this position before, both physically and metaphorically. Igarashi is a Huntington Beach local, and consistently surfs the waters from Bolsa Chica to River Jetties when he’s not competing on the pro circuit. Moreover, Igarashi won the U.S. Open last year.
Still, overtaking Colapinto wouldn’t be an easy feat. Colapinto–a San Clemente native–also understood how to surf the break from the south side of Huntington pier. Colapinto is also the 10th ranked pro surfer this season, and recently placed 5th at the Ballito Pro. All afternoon Colapinto had been surfing with a vengeance. Only weeks before the U.S. Open final, Igarashi had come within a few waves of winning the Corona Open at J-Bay, beating Colapinto in the process. Today, at the U.S. Open final, the head to head matchup would come down to a few last minute waves and seconds on the clock.
Three minutes had passed, and the ocean was docile and flat. It looked like Igarashi wouldn’t get to repeat the glory of being carried onto the U.S. Open stage in his hometown in 2018.
Then the wind started to change. From out beyond the pier, a set appeared. As it approached shore, it rose up perfectly. Igarashi paddled, dropped in, and took a sharp turn. From the pocket he shot up the wave face, blew the tail of his board over the wave’s lip twice, shot out of the water and did a 180 reverse air as the crowd on shore cheered, and miraculously emerged from beneath a cloud of white water into the brown waters near the shore.
The announcers expressed their amazement over the loudspeakers, echoing the cheering crowd. But, the judges didn’t release their scores. Time ticked down to ten seconds, and it seemed like Kanoa, whose spectacular run would certainly beat a 7.41, would win the U.S. Open.
Colapinto, however, had other plans. With 10 seconds left he dropped into one last ride, pulled a huge air out of the wave and scrambled out a perfect landing just as the buzzer blew to end the competition.
The crowd was exuberant, but confused. Igarashi’s score still hadn’t been entered, but was Colapinto’s new run enough to squash Igarashi’s score in the cradle? The judges debated, arbitrated, and argued the scores, but remained silent to the bewildered crowd. Then over the loudspeaker came the words, “An 8.17 for Kanoa Igarashi and that’ll be enough to beat Griffin Colapinto!”
The crowd erupted. Colapinto was carried onto the stage with an American flag draped around his shoulder as he screamed, “BACK TO BACK!”
All in all, it was a great day for Huntington Beach surfers, and sports fans alike. Only half an hour before Igarashi’s victory, Huntington Beach local Courtney Conlogue defeated no. 1 ranked surfer Stephanie Gilmore in the U.S. Open Women’s final.
Conlogue was in the lead and had priority with six minutes left in competition, when she dropped into a huge left handed wave. She dipped low into the pocked, before pulling up the face and riding a floater on the rail of the wave’s crest. On shore, the crowd was elated to see the local slay the wave so effortlessly, and cheered her on as the final buzzer sounded.
In the skateboard park series, Zion Wright–who typically doesn’t skate in the bowl series contests, but instead skates street contests–stunned the crowd by capturing gold in the men’s bracket. Wright’s huge 540’s and clutch hip transfers sealed a victory over six time X Games gold medalist Pedro Barros.
In the women’s bracket, Kisa Nakamura’s ultra-technical flip tricks and stalls led her to victory over Jordyn Barratt. If you recall, the Weekly recently profiled Barratt. Barratt is a legend at the U.S. Open, and was the first female athlete to compete professionally in both the surf and skate competitions.
Dennis Enarson claimed back to back victories in the men’s BMX pro series at the U.S. Open, while Nikkita Ducarroz claimed victory in the women’s bracket.