Inside Look at the 2015 Vans US Open of Surfing Finales

Hiroto Ohhara at the Vans US Open of Surfing during his semi-finals heat. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Hiroto Ohhara at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing during his semi-finals heat. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

The Soul id Media Group arrived to a pristine white sandy beach, beautiful weather, an ecstatic crowd packing the grandstand, and the best bowl skateboarders in the world pushing it beyond the limit to survive the first cut of the Van Doren Invitational.

Soul id Media Group interviews Sally Fitzgibbons during her morning practice.

The Soul id Media Group interviewed Sally Fitzgibbons during her morning practice. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

After arriving on Friday afternoon and watching the Van Doren Invitational Pro Skate qualifiers, the Soul id Media Group were the first on the beach at 4:00 a.m. the following morning on Saturday.

 

With foggy skies and a slight breeze blowing at the break of dawn, the Soul id Media Group interviewed two of the top World Surf League competitors Sally Fitzgibbons and Kolohe Andino after their morning surf routines:

 

 

2015 Van Duren Invitational

After the upcoming future stars of professional surfing competed in the Vans US Open Men’s and Women’s Juniors event, the skaters dropped in at the Van Doren Invitational Semi-Finals for a day filled with high-flying tricks and brutal wipe-outs.

Chris Russel and Riley Stevens side-by-side at the Van Duren Invitational Finals.

Chris Russel and Riley Stevens side-by-side at the Van Duren Invitational Finals. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Semi-Finals Jam 1:

 

Ben Hatchell at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

Ben Hatchell at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

1st: Ben Hatchell, USA, Score: 90.46

2nd: Charlie Blair, USA, Score: 76.10

3rd: Jack Fardell, AUS, Score: 74.47

4th: Christian Hosoi, USA, Score: 58.90

 

Even though Charlie Blair was absolutely sending it and going for the biggest air and most crowd-pleasing tricks, he had quite a few crashes and Ben Hatchell ultimately won the round. Hatchell had an extremely clean and technical first run in the semi-finals giving him one of the highest scores of the Van Doren Invitational. Legendary bowl skater Christian Hosoi made an appearance during this round and was greeted with excitement and applause from the crowd.

 

Semi-Finals Jam 2:

Riley Stevens during his semi-final heat. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Riley Stevens during his semi-final heat. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

1st: Chris Russel, USA, Score: 88.63

2nd: Patrick Ryan, USA, Score: 76.94

3rd: Riley Stevens, USA, Score: 74.01

4th: Greyson Fletcher, USA, Score: 70.55

 

Even through Chris Russel threw down one of more impressive runs of the afternoon during this jam, Riley Stevens was the real story. Stevens had a gnarly crash where he broke his right index finger, showed it to the crowd, and grabbed it snapping it back into place and kept on skating finishing the round.

Semi-Finals Jam 3:

Ben Raybourne during his Semi-Finals Heat at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Ben Raybourn during his Semi-Finals Heat at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

1st: Ben Raybourn, USA, Score: 83.50

2nd: Chris Gregson, USA, Score: 81.19

3rd: Curren Caples, USA, Score: 79.69

4th: Daniel Vargas, USA, Score: 71.30

 

Ben Raybourn is one of the top skaters in the US and has one of the craziest, coolest, and unique styles in skateboarding today. Throughout the entire round, Ben was throwing bizarre yet extremely creative and technical tricks that had the crowd cheering him on to his first place finish and finals berth.

 

Semi-Finals Jam 4:

Ronnie Sandoval during a heat at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Ronnie Sandoval during a heat at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

1st: Ronnie Sandoval, USA, Score: 89.78

2nd: Marlon Silva, BRA, Score: 84.95

3rd: Robin Bollan, FRA, Score: 77.57

4th: Rowan Zorilla, USA, Score: 59.07

 

This jam of the Semi-Finals was filled with extremely talented riders, great tricks and close calls including a scary moment that silenced everyone in the stands when French rider Robin Bollan faceplanted hard during the jam session. Luckily, Bollan was able to get up under his own power and went on to compete in the Finals.

 

Robin Bolian at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

Robin Bollan at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

Semi-Finals Jam 5:

 

Raven Tershy at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

Raven Tershy at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

1st: Raven Tershy, USA, Score: 94.45

2nd: Pedro Barros, BRA, Score: 92.81

3rd: Alex Sorgente, USA, Score: 85.11

4th: Willy Lara, USA, Score: 82.64

 

The final round of the semi-finals charged the stadium with energy with all four skaters putting up insane runs scoring above eighty points and setting the scene for an epic US Vans Open Van Doren Invitational Finals. Raven Tershy, Santa Cruz native, threw down a fiery run absolutely flying through the bowl at top speeds and hucking it on every trick to huge heights. Red Bull sponsored Pedro Barros was amazing as always with 17-year-old skating prodigy Willy Lara showcasing his skillset as well.

Packed arena for the 2015 Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Packed arena for the 2015 Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

After the ten top-scoring skaters from the semi-finals were chosen, Curren Caples and Jack Fardell were given wildcard spots to compete in the Finals as well for the $25,000 dollar top prize.

 

Finals Jam 1:

 

Jack Fardell at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

Jack Fardell at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

1st: Jack Fardell, AUS, Score: 76.20

2nd: Chris Gregson, USA, Score: 73.80

3rd: Curren Caples, USA, Score: 7.76

 

Jack Fardell put together a clean starting run that continued through the jam session as he battled head-to-head against the lanky Chris Gregson after disaster struck red-hot skater Curren Caples at the end of his initial run. At the very end of his forty-second starting run, Curren fell directly on his right wrist resulting in him immediately signaling medical staff that something was wrong. Caples broke his wrist and will not return to the skating circuit until back to 100%.

Curren Caples injured at the 2015 Van Duren Invitational.

Curren Caples injured at the 2015 Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

 

Finals Jam 2:

Willy Lara (right) and Pedro Barros (left) shredding during a heat at the Van Duren Invitational.

Willy Lara (right) and Pedro Barros (left) shredding during a heat at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

1st: Willy Lara, USA, Score: 79.71

2nd: Alex Sorgente, USA, Score: 77.60

3rd: Marlon Silva, BRA, Score: 71.02

 

The 17 year-old skateboarding prodigy Willy Lara absolutely shredded this round scoring 79.71 and finishing 5th overall in his Van Buren Invitational debut with an epic progression of tricks in the deep bowl throwing multiple disaster’s and other difficult tricks in a row. Alex Sorgente kicked off his run throwing the longest, cleanest grind of the competition on his 77.60 scoring run.

 

Finals Jam 3:

 

Chris Russell during the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

Chris Russel during the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

1st: Chris Russel, USA, Score: 90.31

2nd: Ronnie Sandoval, USA, Score: 77.74

3rd: Ben Raybourn, USA, Score: 69.20

 

Chris Russell was skating out of his mind and had one of the most impressive runs of the entire competition here throwing down an absolutely explosive and aggressive run going 100% the entire time and blowing away his competition landing in 3rd place overall in the tournament. Not only did Russel have the crowd going crazy, he was able to recover on many sketchy landings with major coordination. Ben Raybourn was a semi-final stand out performer, but struggled during the Finals scoring only 69.20 points and skating less than half the time allotted during the jam.

 

Finals Jam 4:

 

Baen Hatchell at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

Ben Hatchell at the Van Duren Invitational. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

1st: Ben Hatchell, USA, Score: 96.56

2nd: Pedro Barros, BRA, Score: 94.24

3rd: Raven Tershy, USA, Score: 82.98

 

Ben Hatchell was skating like a madman during the Final Jam of the day scoring an unreal 96.56 after skating the most nasty run of the afternoon. However, Brazilian Pedro Barros was neck and neck with Ben Hatchell the entire time as the crowd was blown away by the skill and precision demonstrated by the two pros. Raven Tershy had a good run scoring 82.98 points and placed 4th and pushed it to the limit the entire time during the jam as well. However, Hatchell was on another level of skating during the event. Lars Gustafson, Soul id journalist, spoke with Ryan Clemens, former general manager of the Skatepark of Tampa and www.theboardr.com executive, about the epic finale of the Van Doren Invitational:

 

Lars Gustafson: Can you talk about the event and today?

 

Ryan Clemens: The Van Doren Invitational brings excitement and good feels. People love it, the dudes here want to skate in the contest. The last jam of the Finals was pretty epic, I don’t know if you can beat Ben Hatchell’s skating at that point. It’s super gnarly.

Here are the final results of the 2015 Van Doren Invitational:

1: Ben Hatchell – 96.56

2: Pedro Barros – 94.24

3: Chris Russell – 90.31

4: Raven Tershy – 82.98

5: Willy Lara – 79.71

6: Ronnie Sandoval – 77.74

7: Alex Sorgente – 77.60

8: Jack Fardell – 76.20

9: Chris Gregson – 73.83

10: Marlon Silva – 71.02

11: Ben Raybourn – 69.20

12: Curren Caples – 7.76

 

After the Van Doren Invitational Finals were over, a Best Trick competition was held with a large group of skaters going in a clockwise and counter-clockwise 10 minute jam sessions that were extremely fast-paced, intense, and full of crashes and skateboards flying everywhere. Here is Soul id’s video of the Best Trick competition:

 

 

Soul id journalist Lars Gustafson spoke with top-five finishers Pedro Barros and Willy Lara about the event:

Pedro Barros Interview:

Lars Gustafson: Do you have any thoughts on today and that final round?

Pedro Barros: “It was sick, it was an amazing contest and one of the gnarliest finals ever, for sure. The skate level was insane. It was gnarly, it was just really tiring and the sun was really strong and since we already skated Semi’s, but it was sick, just the way everything went.”

Willy Lara Interview:

Lars Gustafson: Can you take us through today Willy?

Willy Lara: Today was really sick, everyone shredded and Im glad I came out here. I was glad to see everyone, hyped on every skater. It was really fun and I’m glad the contest went down today.

Lars Gustafson: Was this one of your first breakout big contests?

Willy Lara: “Not really, I have been through a bunch of contests before. But, this one I have been trying to get into since last year and I finally got in and I was hyped to have skated in this one.”

2015 U.S. Open of Surfing QF, SF and Finals

Ryan Callinan catching a wave at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. Photo Credit: Kyle Nelson

Ryan Callinan catching a wave at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. Photo Credit: Kyle Nelson

After an epic day of skating on Saturday, the Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s Quarterfinals started a great day of surfing and competition at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning with a overcast sky and 3-foot swells.

Men’s Quarterfinal, Heat 1: Nathan Yeomans vrs. Kanoa Igarashi

Kanoa Igarashi during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing.

Kanoa Igarashi during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Kanoa Igarashi, USA, Total Score: 14.00

-Wave 1: 8.67

-Wave 2: 5.33

Nathan Yeomans, USA, Total Score: 11.40

-Wave 1: 5.73

-Wave 2: 5.67

Nathan Yeomans during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Nathan Yeomans during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

With both surfers being Southern California locals, the first heat of the quarterfinals was bound to set the pace for the rest of the competition with Igarashi and Yeomans kicking things off right. Kanoa Igarashi, Huntington Beach local, scored a round high 8.67 near the end of the heat to seal the victory and advance to the quarterfinals beating Nate Yeomans 14.00-11.40.

Men’s Quarterfinal, Heat 2: Ryan Callinan vrs. Hiroto Ohhara

Hiroto Ohhara during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Hiroto Ohhara during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Hiroto Ohhara, JPN, Total Score: 14.67

-Wave 1: 7.67

-Wave 2: 7.00

Ryan Callinan, USA, Total Score: 14.54

-Wave 1: 8.37

-Wave 2: 6.17

Ryan Callinan during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Ryan Callinan during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Hiroto Ohhara became the first Japanese surfer to ever make the quarterfinals of the Vans US Open of Surfing as he faced off against Ryan Callinan beating him in a close battle 14.67 to 14.54. Ohhara was extremely active in this round, attacking the waves aggressively getting more waves and chances to score than Callinan. However, Callinan scored a 8.37 with 4:30 remaining needing a 6.30 to beat Ohhara making things interesting. But, Ohhara held on to beat Callinan 14.67-14.54 in a close battle as he advanced to the semi-finals.

Men’s Quarterfinal, Heat 3: Filipe Toledo vrs. Alex Ribeiro

Filipe Toledo during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Filipe Toledo during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Filipe Toledo, BRA, Total Score: 14.93

-Wave 1: 7.83

-Wave 2: 7.10

Alex Ribeiro, BRA, Total Score: 14.30

-Wave 1: 7.87

-Wave 2: 6.43

 

Alex

Alex Ribeiro during aheat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

In the battle of the Brazilians, Filipe Toledo led most of the heat scoring a 14.93 total score with multiple good slashing runs against fellow Brazilian Alex Ribeiro. With Brazilian surf fans in force at the Vans US Open of Surfing and flags flying, Alex Ribeiro threw a great final run needing a 8.50 to win, but fell short scoring a 7.87 giving Filipe Toledo the win.

The Brazilian surf fans showed up to support Filipe Toledo

The Brazilian surf fans showed up in force to support Filipe Toledo and Alex Ribeiro at the 2015 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. Photo Credit: Eli Libby

 

Men’s Quarterfinal, Heat 4: Tanner Hendrickson vrs. Kolohe Andino

 

Tanner Hendrickson Tanner Hendrickson at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Tanner Hendrickson at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

 

Tanner Hendrickson, HAW, Total Score: 13.26

-Wave 1: 7.33

-Wave 2: 5.93

Kolohe Andino, USA, Total Score: 7.93

-Wave 1: 4.00

-Wave 2: 3.93

 

Kolohe Adino during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

Kolohe Adino during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

With the jet ski Fiat’s “driving” across the water in the background past the pier, St. Clemente native Kolohe Andino faced off against Hawaiian Tanner Hendrickson in the final round of the quarterfinals. Tanner Hendrickson won the round with a total score of 13.26 to Andino’s 7.93 giving him the final spot in the semi-finals.

Men’s Semi-Finals, Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi vrs. Hiroto Ohhara

Hiroto Ohhara during a heat at the 2015 U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Hiroto Ohhara Total Score: 13.50

-Wave 1: 7.50

-Wave 2: 6.00

Kanoa Igarashi: 13.16

-Wave 1: 6.73

-Wave 2: 6.43

Kanoa Igarashi during a semi-finals heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Kanoa Igarashi during a semi-finals heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

In the first round of the semi-finals, the 18 year-old Hiroto Ohhara was able to beat American Kanoa Igarashi and make the finals by posting a 7.50 wave 1 score with a 6.00 wave 2 score to take the win. Ohhara entered the event as an alternate and made history as the first Japanese surfer to make the finals.

 

Men’s Semi-Finals, Heat 2: Tanner Hendrickson vrs. Filipe Toledo

Tanner Hendrickson during a heat at the 2015 U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Tanner Hendrickson during a heat at the 2015 U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

 

Tanner Hendrickson Total Score: 13.24

-Wave 1: 7.17

-Wave 2: 6.07

Filipe Toledo Total Score: 13.07

-Wave 1: 6.90

-Wave 2: 6.17

 

Filipe Toledo about to hit the water during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

Filipe Toledo about to hit the water during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

In a closely contested battle, Tanner Hendrickson upset 2014 reigning champion Filipe Toledo in the final five minutes with a 7.17 score that bumped his score to 13.24 over Toledo’s 12.34 at the time. Next, Toledo was able to improve his wave score to 6.90 on his final wave, but was unable to beat Hendrickson who advanced to the final.

 

Men’s Finals:

 

Hiroto Ohhara being interviewed by Soul id Media Group. Photographer: Eli Libby

Hiroto Ohhara being interviewed by Soul id Media Group. Photographer: Eli Libby

Hiroto Ohhara Total Score: 14.50

Wave 1: 9.17

Wave 2: 5.33

 

Tanner Hendrickson Total Score: 12.90

Wave 1: 7.00

Wave 2: 5.90

Tanner Hendrickson during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Tanner Hendrickson during a heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Hiroto Ohhara beat Tanner Hendrickson to become the first Japanese surfer to ever win the Vans US Open of Surfing and walked away with one of the biggest prizes in surfing history: $100,000 dollars. Ohhara posted a score of 9.17 in the final five minutes to beat Hendrickson by a mere 1.6 points to become the 2015 US Vans Open of Surfing Champion.

Check out the Exclusive interview with Tanner Hendrickson at the conclusion of the event:

 

Women’s Semifinals, Heat 1: Johanne Defay vrs. Bianca Buitendag

 

Johanne Defay at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

Johanne Defay at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

Johanne Defay Total Score: 12.17

-Wave 1: 6.10

-Wave 2: 6.07

 

Bianca Buitendag Total Score: 12.16

-Wave 1: 6.33

-Wave 2: 5.83

 

Bianca Buitendag heading out to the water for her heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

Bianca Buitendag heading out to the water for her heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

In the closest battle of the both the men’s and women’s competition, Johanne Defay advances by 0.01 of a point to the women’s finals in an absolutely heartbreaking loss for Bianca Buitendag. Defay was able to score the 6.10 wave 1 score at the 4:00 minute mark and hold on to win by the closest margin possible.

 

Women’s Semifinals, Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue vrs. Sally Fitzgibbons

 

Sally Fitzgibbons heading out to the water for her final run at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

Sally Fitzgibbons heading out to the water at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

Sally Fitzgibbons Total Score: 11.83

-Wave 1: 6.33

-Wave 2: 5.50

 

Courtney Conlogue Total Score: 7.50

-Wave 1: 5.23

-Wave 2: 2.27

 

Courtney Conlogue stretching before her semi-final heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

Courtney Conlogue stretching before her semi-final heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Eli Libby

 

After suffering a ruptured eardrum in the Fiji Pro earlier this season, Sally Fitzgibbons was able to defeat Courtney Conlogue 11.83 to 7.50 in the Women’s Finals of the 2015 Vans US Open of Surf. Even though Fitzgibbons was down in the beginning, she was able to post a score of 6.33 on a great run and hold onto the lead for the rest of the heat to win.

 

Women’s Finals: Johanne Defay vrs. Sally Fitzgibbons

Johanne Defay celebrates after returning to the shore with her running heat during the 2015 U.S. Open of Surfing finals. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Johanne Defay celebrates returning to shore after winning the 2015 Women’s U.S. Open of Surfing Finals. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

Johanne Defay Total Score: 13.54

-Wave 1: 7.64

-Wave 2: 5.87

 

Sally Fitzgibbons Total Score: 11.83

-Wave 1: 7.00

-Wave 2: 4.83

Sally Fitzgibbons during the final heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing.

Sally Fitzgibbons during the final heat at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photographer: Kyle Nelson

If you are a fan of surfing, the Women’s Final of the 2015 Vans US Open of Surf is what it is all about, Johanne Defay beat Sally Fitzgibbons in one of the most exciting finishes you can imagine. Sally Fitzgibbons took the lead with 2:00 minutes remaining while Defay was able to catch a wave and score a 7.64 and regain her lead with a minute left. Fitzgibbons was able to catch a wave in the final minute and score a 7.00, but it was not enough to regain her lead to win the event. Johanne Defay was the first French woman surfer to ever win the event beating two former champions on her path to first place.

Here is an exclusive interview with Johanne Defay after her big win:

The water couldn’t have been bluer, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect, the action sports couldn’t have been more epic, and the scene at the 2015 Vans US Open of Surfing was one for the books. For more Surfing and Skating news, recaps, and latest trends make sure to check Soul id for the latest in greatest in both sports.

 

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