Bianca Buitendag. Image Courtesy of WSL.

The semifinalists were decided in dramatic fashion yesterday at the Vans US Open of Surfing, stop no. 6 on the 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Women’s Championship Tour (CT). The world’s best female surfers tested their beach-break skills as competition ran through Round 4 and the Quarterfinals in two-to-three foot waves at Huntington Beach Pier.

Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) caused a huge upset after eliminating two-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in the Quarterfinals. What started as a low-scoring affair ended with an exciting exchange that unfolded in the final minutes. Moore posted a 5.60 but the South African netted a 7.60 to steal the lead and take victory over the two-time event winner. The result is Buitendag’s best ever at the US Open, marking the second time that she has eliminated the Hawaiian this season and will see Moore relinquish the Jeep leader jersey to Courtney Conlogue (USA).

“I was keeping my cool and being patient,” Buitendag said. “I’m not going to say I expected to be here, it’s pretty shocking for me and I’m stoked. The whole heat I was waiting, which was frustrating. That one popped up in the last two minutes and I was just dying to surf. I’m taking things one event at a time after a tough start to the year. I’m so blessed and I’m just going with it.”

“Disappointing to lose for sure, but there’s a lot of opportunity left in the season,” said Moore. “I’ll re-focus and look forward to the next event at Trestles.”

Carissa Moore. Image Courtesy of WSL.

Malia Manuel (HAW) came out firing in her Quarterfinal bout against Conlogue, earning an 8.00 on her opening wave. The Huntington Beach local was quick to answer with an 8.60. The two past event winners went head-to-head but Conlogue kept busy and kept the pressure on to take the win and claim the no. 1 position on the Jeep Leaderboard for the first time in her career.

“It feels great but I think I just put a huge target on my back,” said Conlogue. “I’m definitely going to keep working hard and grinding it out. I’ve worked my whole life for this moment and I’m just so happy to be here and have the opportunity and to be in reach of a World Title so we’ll see how it goes. Last year being out with that injury forced me to reflect and made me realize just how much I love what I’m doing. That’s what’s helping me this year — having that appreciation and going for it. I’m going to regroup and recover now. There’s four events left and I have a title to chase.”

Top: Courtney Conlogue. Below: Johanne Defay. Images Courtesy of WSL.

Johanne Defay (FRA) will join Buitendag in the Semifinals after upsetting Lakey Peterson (USA). A 7.00 on her second wave backed up with a 6.80 put the European threat in the top spot, leaving Peterson, current no. 4 on the Jeep Leaderboard, searching for an 8.13. Defay, who defeated Alessa Quizon (HAW) in Round 4 earlier today, looked confident, attacking the lip to win through to her second Semifinal of the season. The 2012 event winner, Peterson, was eliminated in fifth place.

“I had those two lefts and I stuck to what I’ve been doing since the first heat and it worked,” said Defay. “To prepare I’ve been spending some time in France and I got some new boards when I got here, which have really helped me get through the sections.”

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) claimed the last Semifinal spot after defeating compatriot Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) decisively in the final heat of the day. The world no. 3 and former event winner held a 7.93 and a 6.33 in her scoreline and it was enough to take down Van Dijk. Fitzgibbons will match-up against Conlogue in a heavyweight Semifinal clash when the women’s competition resumes.

Sally Fitzgibbons. Image Courtesy of WSL.

The Vans US Open of Surfing runs from July 25 through August 2, 2015 and is webcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com and VansUSOpenofSurfing.com.

Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.80 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.14
QF 2: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 11.10 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.60
QF 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.43 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 15.20
QF 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.26 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.03
Women’s Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 14.00 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 10.60
Heat 2: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 11.10 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 10.63
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.83 def. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 10.33
Heat 4: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.97 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.10
Women’s Semifinal Match-Ups:
SF 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
SF 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)

Lima Peterson
Top: Silvana Lima. Below: Lakey Peterson. Images Courtesy of WSL.