Pictured: 2021 Vans US Open of Surfing Quarterfinalist Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) is into the Semifinals looking for a massive result. Credit: © WSL / Morris

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif/USA (Saturday, August 6, 2022) - Finals Day is set at the Vans US Open of Surfing, Stop No. 4 of the World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series, and Vans Duct Tape Invitational and Festival. Two-to-four-foot swell provided moments of top-tier surfing from some of the sport’s veterans and emerging competitors as the Challenger determined its Semifinalists after the Quarterfinals started the day. The Vans Duct Tape Invitational, the second of three stops on the WSL Longboard Tour, followed as the women performed despite tough afternoon conditions through Round 4 and the Quarterfinals to lock in their Semifinalists.

Pictured: A third Vans US Open of Surfing title is in Caroline Marks' (USA) sights. Credit: © WSL / Ryder

All-Star Clashes Determine Challenger Series Semifinalists

2022 Championship Tour (CT) rookie Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) is determined to rejoin the world’s best and put on a show in the tough conditions. The North Shore, Oahu competitor unleashed an incredible backhand attack before throwing everything into the inside sections for a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10) against Bronte Macaulay (AUS). Sakura Johnson bested her 2021 event result with a place in the Semifinals.

“Spending time with my brother really took my mind away from competition,” said Sakura Johnson. “We hit some baseballs and just wanted to have a clear mind coming in here. (Surfing before my heat) did impact my confidence going into that heat because the conditions have changed over the last couple of days and I had to switch boards this morning. It felt good so I guess I got the right board.”

A clash of former CT qualifiers Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) and Macy Callaghan(AUS) started the weekend action with Callaghan taking control of tough conditions before former Vans US Open of Surfing Pro Junior victor and CT threat Caroline Marks (USA) posted a stunning 14.46 (out of a possible 20) heat total.  

Marks’ defiant backhand and powerful forehand led the way to a comeback victory over 2022 CT rookie, and current Challenger Series No. 2, Molly Picklum (AUS), after the Australian accrued an excellent 8.17. Also joining the Semifinals for the first time this year on the Challenger is Sophie McCulloch(AUS), who made a massive statement after defeating the reigning Vans US Open of Surfing victor Caitlin Simmers (USA) in a dynamic fashion. 

Pictured: Joao Chianca (BRA) was one of the 2022 CT's most exciting rookies and brought that electricity into the Quarterfinals. Credit: © WSL / Ryder

Joao Chianca, Evan Geiselman, Eithan Osborne, and Ezekiel Lau Into Semifinals

2022 CT rookie Joao Chianca (BRA) and former CT elite Ryan Callinan(AUS) put on a display of impeccable surfing in their Quarterfinal clash. Chianca’s incredible backhand attack led him to finish with a powerful forehand strike to garner an excellent, event-best so far, 16.40 heat total (out of a possible 20) and left Callinan needing a 9.33.

“I actually got really nervous after getting that eight because my next two waves felt good, but the scores came way lower,” said Chianca. “That last wave seemed like a good double-up and that’s why I went, and I got two nice turns out the back with such a good inside. At the beginning of the year I made some silly mistakes and now I’m trying to be more calculated in my heats.”

Pictured: Ventura, California's own Eithan Osborne (USA) delivered a hefty upset and eliminated 2022 CT rookie Lucca Mesinas (PER). Credit: © WSL / Ryder

A clash of event standouts took place with Eithan Osborne (USA) taking on former CT competitor Lucca Mesinas (PER). Peru’s first male CT representative, Mesinas, started strong but Osborne fed off the energy of his home crowd and delivered a 7.00 to take the lead at the halfway mark. North America standout Evan Geiselman, earned his career-best Vans US Open of Surfing result thus far after taking down Joel Vaughan (AUS) in their Quarterfinal bout and now looks to make his first-ever Challenger Series Final.

Going back to the first heat of the men’s Quarterfinal, a world-class affair kicked off with a match-up featuring former CT competitors Ezekiel Lau(HAW) and Liam O’Brien (AUS). Despite slow conditions, Lau found a diamond in the rough for a 7.17 before a fog delay. But, the Hawaiian didn’t let it bother him as he finished the restart strong.

Pictured: Kelis Kaleopa'a (HAW) provided the upset of the event so far after taking down current World No. 2 Chloe Calmon Credit: © WSL / Morris

More Upsets Riddle Women’s Longboard Title Hopefuls at Vans Duct Tape Invitational 

Current World No. 2 Chloe Calmon (BRA) kept the pace with a well-executed heat to keep Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER) at bay as the Peruvian needed an excellent 8.33 to catch Calmon. Calmon then had to deal with reigning Vans Duct Tape Invitational winner Kelis Kaleopa’a (HAW), and difficult afternoon conditions in their clash. But, Kaleopa’a navigated the inside section beautifully to put pressure on the World Title contender and turned in a 9.66 heat total to steal a massive win.

“You never know what the ocean and the conditions will have for you, but you just have to hope for the best and go for it,” said Kaleopa’a. “I feel like you just have to find a healthy balance (in your mindset). I freesurf a lot so I struggle with the competitive mindset a little bit. Nowadays I just have to balance both.”

Pictured: 2015 WSL Longboard Champion Rachael Tilly (USA) continues toward another Huntington Beach event win. Credit: © WSL / Morris

Honolua Blomfield (HAW) had to overcome an in-form Hiroka Yoshikawa (JPN) in their Round 4 dual before taking on Sophia Culhane (HAW), who eliminated World No. 3 Tully White (AUS). 

In a masterful performance by Kaitlin Mikkelsen (USA), the San Clemente, California competitor, made a comeback against Laguna Beach’s Avalon Gall(USA) with a fully committed noseride into the inside for a 7.00 to earn a big Semifinal appearance and put her name in as one to beat.

A battle of WSL Longboard Champions provided a dramatic finish to the day’s action with Rachael Tilly (USA) and Soleil Errico (USA) battling for the final Semifinal spot. Tilly held strong following her Round 4 victory and dealt with the heavy inside sections to eliminate Errico.

The next call will be made tomorrow, August 7 at 7:05 a.m. PDT for a possible 7:35 a.m. PDT start for the women's Vans Duct Tape Invitational Semifinals.

For highlights from today's Vans US Open of Surfing and Vans Duct Tape Invitational and Festival, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com
Vans US Open of Surfing Women's Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Macy Callaghan (AUS) 11.34 DEF. Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 9.03
Heat 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.46 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 9.30
Heat 3: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 13.33 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.50
Heat 4: Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 13.24 DEF. Caitlin Simmers (USA) 8.43
Vans US Open of Surfing Women's Semifinal Matchups:
Heat 1: Macy Callaghan (AUS) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)
Heat 2: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
Vans US Open of Surfing Men's Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.17 DEF. Liam O'Brien (AUS) 12.10
Heat 2: Eithan Osborne (USA) 13.87 DEF. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 12.60
Heat 3: Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.17 DEF. Joel Vaughan (AUS) 9.46
Heat 4: Joao Chianca (BRA) 16.40 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.74
Vans US Open of Surfing Men's Semifinal Matchups:
Heat 1: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Eithan Osborne (USA)
Heat 2: Evan Geiselman (USA) vs. Joao Chianca (BRA)
Vans Duct Tape Invitational Women's Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Kaitlin Mikkelsen (USA) 9.17 DEF. Alice Lemoigne (FRA) 5.77
Heat 2: Avalon Gall (USA) 11.33 DEF. Sally Cohen (HAW) 6.96
Heat 3: Chloe Calmon (BRA) 12.83 DEF. Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER) 8.60
Heat 4: Kelis Kaleopaa (HAW) 13.06 DEF. Lindsay Steinriede (USA) 11.47
Heat 5: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 9.60 DEF. Hiroka Yoshikawa (JPN) 6.90
Heat 6: Sophia Culhane (HAW) 11.67 DEF. Tully White (AUS) 9.60
Heat 7: Soleil Errico (USA) 13.00 DEF. Mason Schremmer (USA) 7.96
Heat 8: Rachael Tilly (USA) 12.84 DEF. Natsumi Taoka (JPN) 6.17

Vans Duct Tape Invitational Women's Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Kaitlin Mikkelsen (USA) 11.77 DEF. Avalon Gall (USA) 11.06
QF 2: Kelis Kaleopaa (HAW) 9.66 DEF. Chloe Calmon (BRA) 4.20
QF 3: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 10.03 DEF. Sophia Culhane (HAW) 6.97
QF 4: Rachael Tilly (USA) 12.17 DEF. Soleil Errico (USA) 8.77 
Vans Duct Tape Invitational Women's Semifinal Matchups:
SF 1: Kelis Kaleopa'a (HAW) vs. Honolua Blomfield (HAW)
SF 2: Kaitlin Mikkelsen (USA) vs. Rachael Tilly (USA)
Watch LIVE
The Vans US Open of Surfing is now open and will run through August 7 at Huntington Beach, California. The event will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, WSL’s YouTube channel, and the free WSL app. Check local listings for coverage from the WSL's broadcast partners. 
The Vans US Open of Surfing is proudly sponsored by Vans, Visit Huntington Beach, Red Bull, Flying Embers, Hydro Flask, Shiseido, 805, Pacifico, Sambazon, StillHouse, Youtheory, BF Goodrich, Fu Wax, Boxed Water, and Just Egg. 
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

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