The Assn. of Surfing Professionals 4-Star Vans Pier Classic, presented by Jack's Surfboards, is underway on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, running through Sunday.
Some of the top young surfers in the world are out there, and for one local surfer, this contest is critical to him as he inches toward possible entry into the ASP World Tour in the near future.
Newport Beach's Andrew Doheny, 19, has been given a wild card into the top-seeded round and could gain vital points to build his ASP World Ranking.
"This is my last year doing the Pro Juniors, so I'm starting to get my feet wet in the star events," Doheny told aspworldtour.com. "I'm lucky to have Vans, my sponsor, give me a wild card spot. Huntington can be a tricky spot, and having a better seed helps me secure some points.
"My goal is to do well in this event. It's near where I live and a win would be great and a good momentum-builder for the rest of the year."
Doheny has maintained a steady rise on the surfing circuit the past few years, meeting most challenges along the way, starting in high school contests.
He was a star in the National Scholastic Surfing Assn., becoming the second surfer in NSSA history to win back-to-back national Juniors titles when he won in 2007 and '08. He also won multiple NSSA regional titles.
But much of his success can be attributed to his laid-back attitude. Instead of stressing on long-range goals, Doheny just focuses on the incoming set. The ASP World Tour is the top level of pro surfing, and the most lucrative, but he'll get there when he gets there.
"I don't really think about it too hard," he said. "This is what I do, and success came out of it. I don't really have a set goal, just keep doing what I'm doing and let it take me where it takes me."
He had a ninth-place finish on the 2011 ASP World Junior Tour, which included a second-place finish in the Junior Tour opener in Bali. The ninth place also was the second best finish by an American (including Hawaiians), topped only by Santa Barbara's Conner Coffin.
The Vans Pier Classic is just another step, but a big one.
"I'm hoping to end my last year as a Pro Junior in a positive way," Doheny said.
There is a live webcast of the event at vans.com/pierclassic.
Another local surfer, Courtney Conlogue, continues to make waves as well. Conlogue, who grew up in Santa Ana but learned to surf in Huntington, is already on the ASP Women's World Tour.
Conlogue, 19, won last week Telstra Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River, Australia, winning the event for the second year in a row.
"I was trying not to think about going back-to-back too much because I didn't want to put pressure on myself," Conlogue told aspworldtour.com. "I'm stoked to have gotten two in a row. This place taught me a lot last year and the years before. The first time I came here I lost in the second round and it was quite an embarrassing heat.
"Going from that to what I've done now feels great, and each year I come back I feel like I get to know the waves better and better. Now I'm looking forward to going to Bells because this place is great training for down there."
She's also off to a good start on the ASP Women's World Tour in a quest for a world championship, finishing fifth in the first contest of the year at Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. This is her second year on the tour after being named the ASP Rookie of the Year in 2011.
The next World Tour event starts next week at Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia.
Conditions this weekend at the Vans Pier Classic should be much better than what they were a couple weekends ago for the Surfing America Prime event at the H.B. Pier.
Wind, rain and sloppy surf didn't stop the competitors, and a number of locals did well.
Meah Collins of Costa Mesa won the Girls U18, and Lulu Erkeneff of Dana Point was close behind in third.
Colin Moran of Costa Mesa took third in the Boys U18, Kanoa Igarashi of Huntington Beach took third in the Boys U16, Griffin Colapinto of San Clemente took first the Boys U14 and John Mel of Newport Beach took second in the Boys U14.
JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun