Alejo Muniz of Brazil named champion in US Open of Surfing (photos)

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Alejo Muniz of Brazil beat local favorite Kolohe Andino of San Clemente in the mens’ finals to win the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach Sunday. On the women’s side, Carissa Moore of Hawaii took the title, beating Santa Ana native, Courtney Conlogue. 

Surf and skateboard fans from around the world converged on Huntington Beach for the Vans US Open of Surfing all week. The nine-day event concluded Sunday with the last rounds of surfing and skateboarding competitions. 

Amongst cheers for Andino, the 19-year-old son of surfing legend Dino Andino, Muniz said he had to stay focused to pull off the win. 

"I have so much respect for Kolohe and his dad.  And soon as he finished a wave, I just could hear the crowd going crazy," Muniz said. 

Andino told reporters he was “stoked” just to make the finals. 

In the water, the conditions were hardly optimal for spectacular surfing. The competitors made the most of 2- to 3-feet high waves.

Thousands of people crowded the sand south of the Huntington Beach Pier, braving overcast skies for most of Sunday morning. The sun made brief appearances, but the weather was mostly gray. 

“That’s kind of a bummer, but these guys, they make these 2- to 3-foot waves look fun,” said 55 year-old Joseph Langdon, a contractor from Huntington Beach, as he stood in the crowd on the beach watching the competition with his friends. The veteran recreational surfer tries to attend every year.

“It’s not very often that all the pros show up here,” said Langdon. “You usually see them in the magazines and on TV, so it’s kinda nice to get to see them surf in person.”

With the pros come tens of thousands of spectators from all over the world. Mateo Cariglia of Rome, Italy drove up from San Diego. He moved there  two years ago to work in the renewable energy industry and discovered surfing. 

“I think it ‘s amazing to be on the beach in the middle of a lot of people all sharing the same passion,” said Cariglia. “I’m not an expert in surfing but I like the environment, atmosphere, and I think it’s cool.”

Langdon welcomes the visitors.

“We feel invaded by the world, but we love it,” he said. “It’s classic. It’s a circus, but for this one week of summer,  we certainly look forward to it.” 

As Langdon, watched,  Kolohe Andino of San Clemente advanced to the men’s finals against Alejo Muniz of Brazil. In the end, Muniz took the title and the $100,000 prize.

On the women’s side, Carissa Moore of Hawaii won, taking $15,000.  

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