Buttery air-reverses enough to upstage Aussie upstart Liam O’Brien
The smoothest Brazilian in the business, Mr Yago Dora, has taken this year’s US Open title at Huntington Beach. Dora used little more than his ultra-buttery, ultra-consistent forehand air-reverses to get past Burleigh youngster Liam O’Brien in the final, who enjoyed a huge break-out performance.
O’Brien looked hungry for a big win at the start of the decider, quickly countering Dora’s 7.43 opener with a series of sharp backhand belts for a 7.67 and the lead, but he struggled to back it up. Dora, on the other hand, stuck to his strengths, racing down the line on the lefts and taking to the air, with his sixth wave providing fireworks as he nailed a stylish rotation for an 8.60. After that, the ocean went flat and there was little O’Brien could do but watch the clock tick cruelly down.
Still, it was a massive result for the young campaigner, who shot from 55 on the ratings up to number 10, putting him in a strong position to make a solid run at qualification. He upset form surfer of the event and 2018 runner-up Griffin Colapinto in the semi, stealing all the Californian’s mojo and posting a barrage of good scores. He also disposed of defending champ Kanoa Igarashi in Round 4, ensuring the current world number five wouldn’t win the event for a third time in a row.
Connor O’Leary was the only other Aussie to enjoy a strong result at the event, bowing out in the quarters. Matt Banting, Jack Robinson, Jordy Lawler and Reef Heazlewood – who were among our best placed qualifying hopes heading into the event – all went down early.
Consistent (but not exactly captivating) Frenchman, Jorgann Couzinet, knocked Jaddy off the top of the qualifying series after a quarter-final finish, while Alex Ribeiro moved to third after making it to the semis. Adriano De Souza also had a strong event, as did young Hawaiian heavyweight Barron Mamiya.
On the women’s side of the draw, Sage Erikson defeated Courtney Conologue, with the women’s event being downgraded from a CT to a QS10,000 this year. The win is Erikson’s second for the year and puts her in a good position to regain a spot on the CT in 2020.