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Schweitzer, Merrill Win US SUP Tour Huntington Beach

The kickoff to the US SUP Tour's second year ran smack into mother nature: Huntington Beach, California's afternoon onshore winds. The winner? We're a little biased but we'd say the collection of international athletes that gathered at the Surf City Pier came out on top.

There's really no way to sugar coat it: The waves were not good. Most of the WNW swell pulsing through the beach on Saturday, the westerly sea breeze made sure to turn to mush. But a bunch of talented surfers found little wedges and corners to make the contest fun to watch, and despite six-man heats, there were a surprising number of scoring opportunities. Zane Schweitzer and Emmy Merrill capitalized on those opportunities

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Zchweitzer fought through stacked heats all day and then went one ride better than Southern California local Colin McPhillips and Ryan Helm, who rode a tricked-out Riviera Door, a fascinating mix: unorthodox yet stylie. "I wanted to support the US SUP Tour," said Schweitzer, who heads to Brazil next week for the World Tour's second stop. “Competition surfing is something I really wanted to work on this year so I'm just trying to get in as many as I can. Really stoked to win this though."

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If there was one thing we took away from this event it was that the state of women's SUP surfing is progressing rapidly. Throughout the contest's challenging conditions, the women rose to the occasion and not only found waves, but surfed them to their potential.

Emmy Merrill, a college student and part-time SUP pro, took the win on the pro women's side—she also won last year's Trestles event–with solid rail surfing and consistent heat scores throughout the event. "I don't usually get to surf against all these ladies because I'm in school so it's awesome to get the opportunity," she said. "The women’s surfing is definitely progressing."

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Floridian youngster Izzi Gomez came in second and further solidified herself as a constant threat at Huntington, where she had a big win when the Standup World Tour was here last fall. Her surfing has improved even since then, with more crack in her turns.

Constant threat Candice Appleby came in third with her powerful signature blend of snaps and rail carves. Although third isn’t where she wanted to finish, her surfing continues to push the standard for the women.

No, the waves weren’t great, but Schweitzer didn’t mind:

Today the athletes gather in Huntington Beach for the surf race portion of the US Tour stop and with a combo swell on the rise, conditions could be ideal. Look for a wrap-up tomorrow from and more galleries on Monday.

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1. Zane Schweitzer
2. Collin McPhillips
3. Ryan Helm
4. Sean Poynter
5. Daniel Hughes
6. Noah Yap

1. Emmy Merrell
2. Izzi Gomez
3. Candice Appleby
4. Sophia Bartlow

Open Surf Men Final:
1. Kieran Grant
2. Fisher Grant
3. Nick Ventresca
4. Chris Gutzeit

Open Surf Women Final:
1. Izzy Gomz
2. Sarah Messina
3. Karen Jacobson
4. Avalon Gall

Photos by Aaron Schmidt
Will Taylor contributed to this report

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