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The men's Qualifying Series (QS) elite are steadily arriving in numbers on California's shores for the 2019 Vans US Open of Surfing QS 10,000 presented by Swatch July 27 - August 4. With the first QS 10,000 of the men's QS in the books following Ballito, South Africa, the men's Championship Tour (CT) qualification picture got its first real glance at who's in the mix. Now the Huntington Beach Pier awaits those hopefuls.
Two-time defending event winner Kanoa Igarashi is back to represent his hometown of Huntington Beach and vie for an unprecedented three-peat Vans US Open of Surfing title.
"I am so excited to go back home," said Igarashi. "I haven't been back to Huntington Beach since the first Championship Tour event in April. Just living out of a suitcase gets really tiring, but I am so used to it now. I cannot wait to go see my parents and to see my friends back in Huntington. To be able to compete in front of the crowd and the local fans is the best way to go back home. I am going to do whatever I can to win it. Even though it has nothing to do with the World Title or the Olympics, there is nothing more I want than to win it three years in a row."
But, there's a slew of contenders ready and waiting for Igarashi such as the likes of fellow CT competitor and new World No. 1 Kolohe Andino, QS No. 1 Jadson Andre and last year's runner-up Griffin Colapinto. Qualification threats Jorgann Couzinet, Nat Young and Matt Banting are also expected to compete.
Can Igarashi bring a third US Open title home? Photo: WSL / KENNETH MORRIS
Here's a shortlist of who's in town for one of professional surfing's long-standing events and 10,000 season-changing points.
Silva emerged a danger man among the QS ranks following his win at the Ballito Pro to garner 10,000 points and jumped into the Top 10. The 24-year-old is currently enjoying a solid rookie campaign on the CT, sitting at No. 18, but will need to at least one more big result on the QS to secure that spot among the Top 34 next season should he need to rely on it.
The Brasilian finished equal 25th in the Huntington arena last year and those 1,100 would eventually count toward making a charge toward the world's best. Silva's light-footed attack and ability to bring aerial progression into his heats makes him a threat in the punchy beach break of "Surf City USA."
Lawler enjoyed the elation of a victory at home to jumpstart 2019 and looks to do the same at Huntington Beach. WSL / MATT DUNBAR
One of Australia's newest threats is making his presence known in 2019 after his breakthrough, major QS win earlier this season in Sydney. Lawler is no stranger to success in America, already having a runner-up to his name at the WRV Outer Banks Pro when he was beginning to build a career toward his dream of qualifying - something he's put himself in contention toward making a reality.
"This is just a stepping stone toward my ultimate dream of one day competing on the Championship Tour so it's something to enjoy, but I'm far from done," Lawler said following his appearance at the Outer Banks and now find himself one step closer.
As the highest ranked surfer on the QS not already having a seed into the Vans US Open, Lawler earned himself a wildcard and is looking to do damage in his second QS 10,000 of the year.
Mamiya's well-rounded game makes him a big threat to the elite contingent on hand. WSL / RYAN JANSSENS
Huntington Beach may not provide the death-defying barrel opportunities of Mamiya's revered Pipeline, but when it's time for the jersey he is well-equipped for any condition. The 19-year-old is looking for back-to-back wins at the US Open after his Pro Junior title helped secure a second-straight Hawaii sweep and now he joins the hopeful of contenders trying to dethrone Igarashi.
Mamiya's experience at the amateur level in Huntington Beach helped set him up for a promising career with his arsenal of aerial assaults and powerful maneuvers.
Look for these competitors and more at the Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch July 27 - August 4.