coffee convo Hwilsin tour talk writing WSL


I’ve never been great at giving an apology, but I am hoping you can accept this as one. Especially you Biolos. I took his recent IG post to heart, the one calling out no coverage of the US Open from surf media at large. I feel responsible for not producing on this front. That’s what I’m here for, it’s what I’ve been doing (half-assedly), right? The event was in my hometown, I was down there 6 out of 9 days, where the hell is my recap post?

Truth be told, I needed a second to recover. I watched Eli Hanneman smoke Crosby in the Final from my couch, wallowing in my successful misery from Saturday night. The next few days came and went with a heavy brain fog. I tried to work on a recap article to no avail. So here we are now, after more than a week of procrastination. 

Where to even start with an event like this..

Well, I briefly described the first half of the week here, where I talked about the deflated event site. I have to rescind my comments on that. The whole town ramped up heavily over the back half. RedBull teams swarmed the beaches, live music was played on a small center stage, Pacifico girls went through Main Street bars supplying beers, a few more brands added pop-ups and brand athlete signings, cops on horses were arresting people, and a sense of nostalgia flowed through my veins. A very attentive crowd gained numbers throughout the week. Every hometown surfer would receive a lot of love. It took Crosby about 15 minutes to get up the beach after a close heat with Mateus Herdy in the QF’s. The interference between Rapoza and Heazlewood was one of my favorite experiences of the event. Not because of the situation itself, but due to the atmosphere on the beach; the audible, joint, “ooooh” from the crowd followed by a hushed buzz of speculation – the anxiety filled minutes awaiting the judges decision – the announcement of the official call, and the outburst of joy from the sizeable local crowd in Rapoza’s favor – it was quite a rush. The lack of coverage could have been from the absence of ‘good waves’, but it feels like most people who spent some time around the Open this year had nothing but good things to say, even without an ‘endemic’ headline sponsor. 

Early Saturday morning.

The contest itself, to me, was pretty sick. I’m from Huntington Beach, so I know that throughout this week the waves were actually pretty damn contestable. Sure, a few blown out afternoons. On the smaller side, in general. But the sandbars were working nicely – it might have been mentioned over 20 times on the broadcast that there was no “hole” in the sand. No deep spots, which meant not a lot of the Huntington Hop that has become so synonymous. The previous week, maybe two weeks had been pretty damn flat. I actually surfed a lot throughout the event. It was fun. I also don’t believe the water has been this warm in a couple of years. From my perspective, the surfers were in for a treat. I know most of ‘surf media’ writes this contest off before it even starts because HB gets such a bad wrap. I’ve decided I’m completely fine with that. Leave it for us.

As mentioned, Maui’s Eli Hanneman beat good friend Crosby Colapinto in the Final. If you watched the contest throughout, you knew this heat was nearly over after Eli’s very first wave – a solid backside air reverse, almost completely rotated before the landing. 9.0. Highest wave of the entire event, a tough mark to come back from. En route to victory, Hanneman notably took down 3 CT veterans – Frederico Morais, Jake Marshall and Kanoa Igarashi, as well as 2 previous Tour wildcards Jacob Wilcox and Kauli Vaast. He also came from the round of 80, which meant he had to surf the most possible heats, 7, to win the thing. Impressive stuff from someone we’ve been expecting for quite some time. Congratulations Eli. Two things I have to note – the first being how calm and collected this kid was. Nonchalant is a suitable word to describe his demeanor. One could have been easily mistaken to think he didn’t care about the contest. His post-heat interviews felt dull, as if he was tired. His surfing proved otherwise. Secondly, the commentary crew must have mentioned his “adoption” into the 2% crew over 50 times, I can still hear Kaipo saying it. 

Eli, free surfing early on in the event.

Runner-up Crosby Colapinto didn’t have the easiest route to the final either. He had to get through a few veterans in Conner Coffin and Michael Dunphy, good friend and Tour hopeful Jett Schilling, as well as last year’s runner up Nolan Rapoza. His bout with Mateus Herdy that I previously mentioned was a favorite. It was an impressive event for Cros, and it put him in a really good spot to join his buddy Cole Houshmand on Tour next year.

A couple of notes from the rest of the surfing: George Pittar was undoubtedly the surprise of the event. Expect him on everyone’s radar from here on out. The kid’s surfing was electric and his board looked so sharp. Something I found interesting was that Pete Mel said that it was only sprayed black, not actual Carbon tech. Curious. Kanoa never looked like he got out of 3rd gear, and he still made the semi’s. While I completely understand going for a 3 peat at home, that is a decent amount of points taken away from surfers who are just now trying to get on Tour. I’ve got mixed feelings about CT guys surfing CS events. Jake Marshall looked good. Marco Mignot lost early but impressed me with a smooth style, Imai deVault looked to be a real threat early on, and the entire CS field is so damn stacked it’s crazy.

Imai deVault.

As expected, a lot of great moments happened outside of the contest area. Inherent Bummer’s Factory By The Sea was the highlight. Quiksilver’s REPEATER premier went off the day before the Open started. I just now realized that there is a difference between the Surfing Hall of Fame and the Surfing Walk of Fame. One of them is where the surfer gets a star with his or her name below it, the other is when the surfer gets their hands and feet embalmed into the concrete. One is outside HSS and the other across main street in front of Jacks. I’m not sure which is which. Nolan Rapoza and Tyler Gunter hosted a solid party and movie premiere. The entire week+ was a grand old time. Here are some of my favorite moments from memory:

I asked Reef Heazlewood about the interference. I’m no pro by any means, but I have surfed a fair amount of heats back in my day and I know that is not how anyone wants to start any heat, let alone a US Open Quarterfinal. I infused that statement into my initial question with Reef, and he obliged by laughing and agreeing. I asked what he thought, and how he felt about it. He said something along the lines of, “Well at this point I’m just laughing at it really, but obviously I thought it was a left”. We resolved that it was a great result nonetheless, and he was in solid form throughout the contest. I wished him luck for the next two events, and told him I think he could win in Brazil.

I talked to L8 Night Lar about a possible Senior’s Tour. It’s been discussed here before, but it was pretty rad to talk to an OG in the surf game about the idea. We spoke about Heritage Heats and Momentum Files and how much people love nostalgia. I learned a bit from him about kids and surfing, and I was stoked to meet one of HB’s legends. 

L8 Night, Choccy & friends.

I asked Cole Houshmand which waves on Tour he is most looking forward to. I was really surprised at his first two answers: Pipeline and Teahupoo. With his hometown less than an hour down the road, I know firsthand that we really can’t relate to waves like that around here. I don’t recall any clips of him at the Wedge or anything, so I was pretty shocked to hear that. His next two were more expectant: J-Bay, and he said he had heard whispers of Cloudbreak or G-Land getting a stop again. That’s more like it. This kid is fucking huge in person. He’s humble, well-spoken, and seems to have a solid head on his shoulders. Looking forward to watching him next year. I believe he can live up to the hype. 

I told Mateus Herdy I was stoked for him. He said he was proud. I saw him at an afterparty a bit late at night on Saturday. He was amidst a large Brazilian crowd, which included his manager Daniel Cortez. I told him he had a solid heat against Crosby that I thought could have gone either way. I said I thought he got a little hung up in the lip on his alley-oop, and didn’t get the pop he was expecting. He told me that he was proud he did the maneuver that he was feeling in the moment, “I could have done a regular air reverse right there easy, but I wanted to do the air reverse. At the end, I am happy I did what my heart told me to do.” 

I asked Brett Simpson about his time at Teahupoo during the Code Red swell. I’ve long been a supporter of Brett. He’s a real hometown hero. I have photos of a young me at his “Go Brett” party from when he first won the US Open and made the Tour nearly 15 years ago. Not until this year had I ever formally introduced myself to him. That’s the kind of guy I have always been. Around, but behind the scenes. A face you might recognize and throw a shaka to, but have no idea who it really is. I made a real attempt to break out of that for this US Open, and I had a great convo with Simpo in return. We spoke about the Olympics and coaching. I told him about one of the first times I remember meeting him. We spoke about Teahupoo and Code Red. He was telling me how the wave actually bends, how it feels like the nose of your board is pointing towards the shore to surf through the bowl there. Sounds insane.

And with that, we move straight into Teahupoo we go, which has already started. I watched a bit of Day One, but I’m really just now getting my bearings back. Again, sorry for the delay. Also, if you happened to be reading this, sorry for this old post about you, Biolos. Finals Day is quickly approaching us. I’m really looking forward to being down there and watching the World Title get handed. I’m really enjoying the warm local waters, surfing as much as I can right now. I want to give a huge thank you to Travis Ferre, Brandon Guilmette and everyone at Inherent Bummer for their 3 day Factory By The Sea event. It was a damn hell time. If you missed it this year – well, don’t do that next time. Please check out the photo galleries here, here, and here. Until next year, US Open.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *