Huntington Beach produced an interesting crowd. Spectators showed up wearing less clothing than the participants themselves. They sported body-painted hand prints and sharpie marker writing on their skin. Instead of having their favorite surfers sign autographs, they wrote sayings on each other that read, “Free hugs.”
Some of the top crowd favorites could have definitely used a free hug. Tahitian, Bourez out maneuvered Kelly Slater with a big air. Crowds were upset that Slater got knocked out. Seabass (Sebastian Zietz) could have used a hug. He surfed against Andre with a broken ankle. Wilson bested Alex Ribeiro with his backside turns. Nat Young was on fire today advancing over Charles Martin with explosive turns. Crews cruised through his heat with De Vries lofting a huge rotation.
Round 4 of the ASP Women's WCT was definitely fun for crowds to watch. The match ups seemed pretty even. Laura Enever v. Stephanie Gilmore, the reigning five-time ASP World Champion was action packed. They both tried to surf towards the pier. Steph utilized lay back and snap maneuvers. At one point, they both surfed the same wave, one on the right side and one on the left. In an all-Aussie match up, Laura Enever stated that she was “stoked to make it to the quarters.” Steph Gilmore (ESPY award winner) was still swarmed by fans for autographs. She obliged with a smile. Rookie, Bianca did well against Lima ensuring her a position against Sally Fitzgibbons tomorrow. Lakey Peterson v. Carissa Moore was possibly the most exciting match up of the day. It was a chess match out there. The crowd liked both participants. Lakey caught more waves, but C-Moore pulled out the win in her bright wet suit and nice finishing. Lakey pleased crowds with her smooth, stylistic surfing. Carissa Moore admitted: “She [Lakey] surfs so well in beach breaks and goes for it and she's not someone I wanted to draw in Round 4. I didn't feel like I surfed my best, but was able to squeak by and got lucky. I'm happy to get through that one.” Pauline Ado and Alana Blanchard both had weak openers. Then, they were neck and neck for a while with nearly identical rides. At one point, they had a paddle battle to the outside. They both did solid surfing. Alana did three maneuvers and Ado surfed right in the pocket. But, Alana's roundhouse cutback would not earn her a high enough heat total. Ado will move on to surf against Sally Fitzgibbons tomorrow. That did not stop crowds, however, from swarming the beautiful, Alana Blanchard. She could barely get back to the beach. Just like the girl fans adore Julian Wilson, the boy fans swoon over Alana Blanchard.
Get ready for more than just free hugs, tomorrow. The match ups should be interesting as the Men's Round 5 and the Women's Quarterfinals begin. Crowds are looking forward to seeing more from Ho, Conlogue, and Tyler Wright.