Kolohe Andino Survives Elements at U.S. Open, Finishes Runner-Up; Coffin Defends Junior Title

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The Vans U.S. Open of Surfing takes no prisoners. The folks on the beach are susceptible to overcrowding and energy drink overdose. The judges have to quantify the value of a well-executed “Huntington Hop” between the flurry of carbon-copy air reverses. The surfers cope with so-so wave conditions, the dangers that come with maneuvering around the unforgiving barnacle-covered pilings of the pier, their fellow surfer, star-struck fans and surviving nine days of competition amongst more than 100 of their peers. It’s taxing.

Which makes surviving and excelling all that more impressive. Kolohe Andino will be the first person to tell you that his results hasn’t been what he’d hoped they would be this year. But a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open in front of 50,000 spectators on the beach, it’s the kind of result that can turn a season around.

There’s no question, Andino had to “settle” for second. His surfing was electric down at Huntington Pier. He was surfing with confidence. It’s a workingman’s contest on a workingman’s wave, and Andino was putting in work. Going into the final with Alejo Muniz, he had the momentum (having knocked off fellow WCTers Bede Durbidge, Adriano de Souza, and defending champ Julian Wilson en route to the final) and the support of the crowd. He started the heat fast, with a pair of decent scores, including a 7.5 for a solid air reverse.

“When I did that air, my seven, when I heard everyone yelling, I was so stoked,” Andino told Surfline. "That was by far the biggest air I did the whole event. That was the highlight for me.

“It was kind of a nightmare,” Andino continued, referring to the long lull mid-heat. “Worst part was, I knew I could surf to get the score. I was on. It was the best I felt all event. It was a bummer.”

While the result should help Andino’s confidence and momentum moving forward with his season, a runner-up finish in a Prime-rated event certainly helps his WCT re-qualification bid.

Young Matt Banting (19) ended up the darkhorse of the event, muscling and airing his way into the semifinals, after eliminating Jordy Smith in the quarterfinals.

While the men’s event was part of the WQS, for the women, it was a full-fledged WCT stop. Tyler Wright came into the week as the top-rated surfer on the Tour, and though she made it to the semis, she actually dropped in the ratings. Carissa Moore won the event and took the top spot on the rankings.

In the Men’s Junior Pro, Conner Coffin re-asserted himself as the man to beat. In mid-size conditions, Coffin’s brand of power-surfing was more than his fellow surfers could match and he defended his U.S. Open junior crown.

“When I was younger I couldn’t deal with the circus. I’d get down here and be so nervous. But after doing it for a few years, and winning last year, I’ve been trying to just zone out and surf with the ocean – just to get in a clear head space to embrace the situation,” Coffin told Surfline. “It’s so rad to have my family and all these people here cheering me on. Besides the Rincon Classic, this is the closest thing I have to a hometown contest.”

Coffin’s Oakley teammate, Jake Halstead, finished third in the Junior Pro final.

Final Day Highlights of the U.S. Open

Junior Pro Highlights from the U.S. Open