Caption: Two-time Vans US Open victor Brett Simpson (USA) debuted in great fashion as top seeds headlined Round Three action at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500.
Credit: © WSL / Nilton Baptista

HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Friday, March 23, 2018) – Top seeds made their mark at the World Surf League (WSL) Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 in a crucial day of competition that witnessed the end of Round Two Heats 9 – 16 and Round Three completed in their entirety. The Californian contingent are capitalizing on local opportunity with clean, three-to-four foot waves in the morning that turned into windblown swell by day’s end. But, they must keep a strong international field at bay as Brazilian and Japanese surfers continue to move through the rounds and into tomorrow’s finals day.

One of Huntington Beach, California’s, own Brett Simpson (USA) continued a hot streak of QS events at his local break with a brilliant debut performance. Simpson locked in a 14.74 (out of a possible 20) heat total to open up his campaign at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro — an event he was eliminated in Round Four last year. The 33-year-old looked in great form for another big weekend competing at home with his family right by his side with some special memories here at Huntington.

“My kids are down here having a blast and it’s the best thing ever, it’s a life changer and wouldn’t want it any other way,” Simpson said. “Except for maybe a couple more years on Tour, but I was blessed to have six good years on that stage. I’m still healthy which is nice and enjoying these events while not having to travel as much. Surfing was the last thing I picked up on [for sports] when I was 12, and I felt that whatever I pursued hard I could do. After that, the rest was history.”

And an impressive history it was for “Simpo” with back-to-back wins at the Vans US Open of Surfing and earning $200,000 in the process.

“In 2009 at the US Open I took out a guy who’s retiring in about two weeks and one of my favorite surfers ever [Mick Fanning],” Simpson added. “He’s just a legend guy to be around. Obviously Kelly’s [Slater] the guy with 11 Titles, but Mick evolved the sport too. He and Andy [Irons] were one of the first guys to really rival Kelly and push the sport to be more physical. I got him and then in 2010 I got Jordy [Smith] so there’s a couple names I’m pretty proud of.”

Takumi Yasui (JPN) started off Round Three with a bang and eliminated defending event winner Hizunome Bettero (BRA). The Japanese competitor hasn’t surfed a WSL event in nearly two years and is firing on all cylinders in Huntington Beach — not losing a heat so far. The 20-year-old’s prowess in familiar waves may be an advantage moving forward as his light-footed approach will be something to watch.

“It feels so good to be back and I want to win this contest,” Yasui said. “It’s also really inspiring to see guys like Takumi Nakamura from my country have success here when he got runner-up at Shoe City. I wanted to stay busy out there and catch as many waves as I could to stay in rhythm. This is very similar to my home break in Chiba so I felt really comfortable. It breaks like this all year and works really well for training toward these events.”

The international field in attendance continued to impress with the likes of former CT competitor Alex Ribeiro (BRA). Ribeiro’s Sau Paulo, Brazil, roots helped mold him into one of the world’s best and he’s in search of returning to that level, while keeping the 2020 Olympics in mind. The 28-year-old made a quick pit-stop in Huntington to get some points under his belt before taking to the Caribbean, and is not taking the trip lightly.

“I’ve surfed against a lot of World Champs including Kelly [Slater], Gabriel [Medina], Adriano [De Souza] so I’ve had a lot of experience and want to get back there really bad,” Ribeiro said. “Everyone’s excited about the Olympics, I’m still unsure of how it all works, but it’s going to be fun to shoot for. I love coming here to Huntington because I can work on my boards and it’s a great training for the US Open, but my focus is here before looking toward next week’s QS 3,000 in Barbados.”

But, backing up the Southern California success, Kevin Schulz (USA) took down one of the highlight heats of Round Three featuring fellow San Clemente surfer, and top seed, Taylor Clark (USA), along with yesterday’s standouts Parker Coffin (USA) and Liam Murray (USA). Schulz started out with his two keeper scores, blasting a huge air-reverse for an 8.00 (out of a possible 10) and backing it up with a 5.93, but Clark and Coffin battled for runner-up as Coffin earned an 8.43 to seal the deal. The 22-year-old has his game plan for 2018 and continues to make noise among the regional QS ranks.

“It seemed like the lefts were more consistent and I wanted to paddle away from everyone and risk it, but that wave came through so it was a good start,” Schulz said. “It’s hard having heats with friends like that, I grew up surfing with all three of those guys, and having to sit on them with priority, but that quick start was a big difference. My focus is more on the North America events and I feel a lot less stressed because of that, which is when I have the most fun surfing. It seems to be working right now so it feels great.”

Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. PDT for an 8:00 a.m. PDT start to Round Four and begin finals day action.

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The Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 will run at the Huntington Beach Pier, California, from Friday March 23 – 25.

Upcoming Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 Round Four Match-ups:
Heat 1: Takumi Yasui (JPN), Kevin Schulz (USA), Miyu Furukawa (JPN), Luke Gordon (USA)
Heat 2: Phillippe Chagas (BRA), Parker Coffin (USA), Gabriel Farias (BRA), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 3: Takumi Nakamura (JPN), Jeremy Carter (USA), Nolan Rapoza (USA), Jose Lopez (VEN)
Heat 4: Colt Ward (USA), Makai McNamara (HAW), Cory Arrambide (USA), Joshua Moniz (HAW)
Heat 5: Alex Ribeiro (BRA), Nathan Yeomans (USA), Tales Araujo (BRA), Namor Cayres (BRA)
Heat 6: Dimitri Poulos (USA), Kaimana Jaquias (HAW), Kim Matheus Marcondes (BRA), Jeronimo Vargas (BRA)
Heat 7: Jordy Collins (USA), Kilian Garland (USA), Vitor Mendes (BRA), Matt Passquindici (USA)
Heat 8: Lahiki Minamishen (HAW), John Mel (USA), Jake Marshall (USA), Ian Crane (USA)

Jack’s Surfboards Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 Round Three Results:
Heat 1: Takumi Yasui (JPN) 12.27, Phillippe Chagas (BRA) 9.94, Martin Jeri (PER) 9.93, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 9.43
Heat 2: Kevin Schulz (USA) 13.93, Parker Coffin (USA) 13.66, Taylor Clark (USA) 12.50, Liam Murray (USA) 10.97
Heat 3: Gabriel Farias (BRA) 13.60, Miyu Furukawa (JPN) 11.34, Theo Fresia (BRA) 11.20, Nathan Florence (HAW) 8.87
Heat 4: Brett Simpson (USA) 14.74, Luke Gordon (USA) 10.37, Rinta Ooto (JPN) 8.54, Remy Juboori (USA) 7.23
Heat 5: Takumi Nakamura (JPN) 12.03, Colt Ward (USA) 11.34, Sebastian Williams (ZAF) 11.03, Guy Sato (JPN) 9.53
Heat 6: Jeremy Carter (USA) 13.83, Makai McNamara (HAW) 12.73, Kekoa Cazimero (HAW) 10.57, Matty Costa (HAW) 7.34
Heat 7: Cory Arrmabide (USA) 12.07, Nolan Rapoza (USA) 10.67, Giorgio Gomez (USA) 9.17, Austin Neumann (USA) 6.30
Heat 8: Joshua Moniz (HAW) 13.74, Jose Lopez (VEN) 9.84, Rey Hernandez (MEX) 9.10, Taylor Hutchinson (AUS) 8.73
Heat 9: Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 12.00, Dimitri Poulos (USA) 10.33, Braden Jones (USA) 7.53, Kaisa Kawamura (JPN) 6.53
Heat 10: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 16.27, Kaimana Jacquias (HAW) 9.93, Skip McCullough (USA) 9.54, Yugo Kawabata (JPN) 8.93
Heat 11: Kim Matheus Marcondes (BRA) 12.16, Tales Araujo (BRA) 9.50, Tommy McKeown (USA) 9.44, Manuel Selman (CHL) 7.70
Heat 12: Jeronimo Vargas (BRA) 10.53, Namor Cayres (BRA) 10.00, Daniel Templar (BRA) 9.14, Nicolas Vargas (CHL) 6.30
Heat 13: Jordy Collins (USA) 10.97, Lahiki Minamishen (USA) 10.27, Christopher Kervin (USA) 8.97, Hiroya Miwa (JPN) 4.10
Heat 14: Kilian Garland (USA) 14.17, John Mel (USA) 12.37, Taro Watanabe (USA) 11.23, Jack Boyes (USA) 9.83
Heat 15: Jake Marshall (USA) 16.33, Vitor Mendes (BRA) 11.67, Tyler Gunter (USA) 8.50, Sam Coffey (USA) 7.97
Heat 16: Ian Crane (USA) 13.00, Matt Passaquindici (USA) 11.30, Derek Peters (USA) 6.37, Jackson Obando (NIC) 5.94

Remaining Jack’s Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 Round Two Results (H9 – 16):
Heat 9: Kaisa Kawamura (JPN) 10.86, , Yugo Kawabata (JPN) 10.27, Dylan Goodale (HAW) 9.43
Nick Marshall (USA) 5.80
Heat 10: Nate Yeomans (USA) 13.77, Dimitri Poulos (USA) 13.63, David Economos (USA) 11.04, Italo Mesinas (USA) 4.97
Heat 11: Tales Rodrigues (BRA) 10.96, Namor Cayres (BRA) 9.30, Jackson Butler (USA) 9.17, Hagan Johnson (USA) 8.30
Heat 12: Andrew Jacobson (USA) 10.83, Tommy McKeown (USA) 10.56, , Daniel Templar (BRA) 10.50, Brandon Mitchell (USA) 8.33
Heat 13: Laheki Minamishen (USA) 15.30, John Mel (USA) 12.73, Jacob Szekely (USA) 9.80, Christopher Bluthardt (HAW) 8.56,
Heat 14: Jack Boyes (USA) 11.44, , Hiroya Miwa (JPN) 11.17, Noah Hill (USA) 10.40, Hunter Lysaught (USA) 9.60
Heat 15: Jake Marshall (USA) 12.63, Jackson Obando (NIC) 11.87, Dylan Hord (USA) 10.06, Sean Woods (USA) 9.37
Heat 16: Derek Peters (USA) 9.93, Sam Coffey (USA) 8.50, Souichiro Yuki (JPN) 7.57, Nate Dorman (USA) 6.93