Monday Aug 03, 2015

Defay and Ohhara take surprise wins at US Open of Surfing

There were plenty of surprises at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach this weekend as Johanne Defay and Hiroto Ohhara claimed unlikely victories in California.

French surfer Defay’s victory was her first on the World Surf League Championship Tour, while Japan were celebrating their best ever result at a pro surfing event after Ohhara won the Men’s Qualifying Series contest.

Defay survived a tense semi-final against Bianca Buitendag, progressing to her first WSL final by just 0.01 points, getting revenge on the South African who knocked her out in the semi’s of the Fiji Pro in June.

She made the most of her opportunity, seeing off Australian Sally Fitzgibbons who won the last event in Fiji, to take maximum points and move to sixth in the overall world rankings

And despite finishing third in Fiji, Defay was lost for words after making the step up to the top of the podium in California.

“It’s pretty amazing. I could never imagine that I could win here or that I could win an event,” she said. “I don’t think I can put it into words.

“This is definitely my biggest win. Ending up last year at eighth on the rankings, I though maybe I could do top five so we’ll see what happens this year.”

There were also major upsets in the men's event, a stop on the Qualifying Series for the WSL Championship tour. Tanner Hendrickson claimed the biggest scalp as he defeated Brazilian star Filipe Toledo in the semi-final.

However, the Hawaiian couldn't stop Japanese surfer Ohhara making history by sealing Japan's best ever contest finish in the history of pro surfing.

The 18-year-old has powered up the qualifying series rankings as a result, moving 68 places to 13th, as he looks to make the cut for the biggest stage next year.

“It feels so amazing right now, he said. “I’m super stoked to win this event. This means the Japanese are number one! I really want to be on the CT now so I’ll just keep focused and concentrate on the next event.”

Channels:, Surf