Defending Champions Prepare to Guard Hurley U.S. Open Titles

HUNTINGTON BEACH, California  – The Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing has made competitive surfing history by announcing that the first place finisher of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star event will take home US$100,000, the biggest prize purse in competitive surfing history. Running in accordance with the prestigious event will be the U.S. Open of Surfing Nike 6.0 Pro Junior.

Surfers competing at the Hurley U.S. Open are not only out to claim the significant prize purse on offer, but are also hunting for the valuable ratings points towards a berth on the 2010 ASP World Tour. The U.S. Open of Surfing Nike 6.0 Pro Junior competitors are looking to compile their top four results to finish within the top 3 on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series to earn their chance to compete at the ASP World Junior Championships.

Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard, CA), 24, who is the defending U.S. Open champion and is now in the midst of his rookie year on the ASP World Tour, is fresh off of his best result of the year at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay and now the dedicated Californian is flying home from South Africa to defend his U.S. Open title.

”Well, usually it takes a couple of days to regroup from traveling,” Curran said. “I mean, JBay is the farthest place on earth from California, so hopefully I will have a couple of days before the event. I’m sure I will be just stoked to be home and pumped to be defending my title. The U.S. Open has always been one of my favorite contest to do and it’s at home so I’m just excited to do it again.”

Curran’s win played a crucial role in his qualification for this year’s ASP Dream Tour. The victory at the Hurley U.S. Open saw the ripping regular-footer overtake the ratings lead on the The Grind and Curran carried the confidence from the impressive win with him throughout the remainder of last season.

“I think winning the U.S. Open definitely helped me last year,” Curran said. “I had a couple little results before there and I felt like I was right around the corner. Then the win at the US Open put me right there, so I kind of kept that high all the way through Japan and Europe.”

Curran’s repeat victory will be no easy task, as he will battle with some of the world’s finest surfers, including reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 37, and three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (Hanalei, HI), 30, as well as many other ASP Dream Tour surfers.

Malia Manuel (Wailua, HI), 15, was the youngest competitor to ever win the U.S. Open and the stunning victory established the young Hawaiian as a frontrunner of the massive movement of progressive women’s surfing. Manuel is now back to defend her career-changing U.S. Open title against the flock of talent out to claim this year’s ASP 6-Star event.

“Last year’s U.S Open win still seems surreal,” Manuel said. “It’s finally just starting to sink in, since everything written about me now includes the title ‘Youngest ever U.S Open Champion, Malia Manuel.’ It’s made me to realize what women’s surfing has turned in to and how one prestigious event can change your surfing career, confidence wise and media wise.”

Since the talented up-and-comer went in to last year’s U.S. Open with no expectations, Manuel is trying not to put pressure on herself going into this year’s contest.

“Well, I guess I should feel some pressure as returning even champion, but I didn’t expect to win last year, so maybe I should cancel my expectations again this year and just see what I can do,” Manuel said.

Dillon Perillo (Malibu, CA), 19, is currently sitting in second overall on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series behind Hawaiian talent Keanu Asing (Ewa Beach, HI), 16, and has made the Final in each event he’s entered this year. The stylish Malibu native intends to keep his consistent streak alive entering this year’s U.S. Open of Surfing Nike 6.0 Pro Junior.

“Making all the finals in each event that I’ve competed in definitely gives me more confidence,” Perillo said. “I’m getting really used to it, so it makes it easier for me because I know what to do now. I actually haven’t been doing anything different, I just feel better and everything is coming together better than before.”

Also running in accordance with the U.S. Open Nike 6.0 Pro Junior men’s event will be the ASP Grade-4 women’s contest, which will play a crucial role in the girl’s qualification for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.