Local BMX, Surf Athletes Conquer Land and Sea in Vans U.S. Open

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Newport Beach resident Tyler Gunter in the 2019 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing on Saturday.
— Photo by Jim Collins

Thousands flocked to a neighboring beach over the weekend to kick off the 2019 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, and among the athletes was Newport Beach native Tyler Gunter.

Presented by Swatch, the contest commenced Saturday with the first two rounds of the men’s pro junior event. Surfing’s next generation put on a great performance for the weekend crowd at the U.S. Open, VUSO officials explained in a press release shared this week.

In the first round of men’s qualifying series (QS) 10,000, Gunter got 4.60 on wave 1 and 5.83 on wave 2. He ultimately lost at the end of the heat, but said on social media that it was a “good time and I can’t wait for the next comp.”

Gunter, whose home surf spot is 56th Street, is currently ranked #143 Men’s QS 2019 by World Surf League.

The under-18 men’s field was narrowed to the top 16 competitors, who will later compete in the event’s quarterfinals.

Vans U.S. Open of Surfing on Saturday.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©

In round two of the pro junior event, San Clemente local Crosby Colapinto took the win with France’s Tiago Carrique advancing in second. Colapinto’s success will now see him in the junior quarterfinals against Jett Schilling (USA), Taj Lindblad (USA), and Alan Cleland (Mexico), who all advanced out of their heats.

On day two, both rounds of the men’s QS 10,000 saw championship tour (CT) defeats and QS contender victories.

Hawaiian surfer Seth Moniz, who “stomped one of 2018’s best aerial maneuvers in competition,” progressed out of round two, sealing second place advancement with a buzzer-beater frontside air reverse to edge out Vans US Open rookie Gatien Delahaye of France, officials explain in a press release shared on Sunday.

The weekend also debuted the Vans Rebel Jam BMX street competition, which saw the world’s best riders christen a brand new custom-spec BMX street course, officials explain in the statement.

Devon Smillie of Laguna Beach during the Vans Rebel Jam on Saturday.
— Photo by Jim Collins

Among them was Laguna Beach local Devon Smillie, who placed 8th in Vans Rebel Jam.

“For the first time on American soil, the Vans Rebel Jam showcased 34 talented street riders in a unique competition that celebrates fun, creativity and innovation,” the message reads.

Leading the preliminaries right out the gate was multi-medalist Dennis Enarson, who “emerged as the most epic rider on the course, with natural style and technical expertise, and notably landing a difficult wall to whip for the crowds.” Close behind are contenders Boyd Hilder and Chad Kerley, who trailed him on the leader boards. The top 12 will head to the final rounds this Sunday.

During the second day of the contest, Enarson continued to lead, conquering the street course with ease, utilizing speed and power, and landing difficult maneuvers and unexpected lines, the VUSO announcement notes.

In the women’s division, Perris Benegas was the field outlier, impressing the judges with “big airs, clean feeble grinds, and connecting runs like a pro,” the statement reads.  Benegas completed a notable peg grind over the rainbow rail, sealing the deal for her victory. Joining Benegas on the podium were Angie Marino in second and Natasha Wetzel in third.

Local kids also flocked to the beach for the Vans’ annual Stoke-O-Rama surf celebration, hosted by the nonprofit Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation. Stoke-O-Rama is a free, kids-only surf event featuring friendly surf sessions by age division, along with fun beach activities for local families to enjoy. Through the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation, all the proceeds from this year’s Stoke-O-Rama event will be donated directly to the Huntington Beach YMCA in support of community beach activities.

Beaches were packed at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing on Saturday.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing on Saturday.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing on Saturday.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing on Saturday.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing on Saturday.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©
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