Courtney Conlogue has her groove on at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.
Just don't ask her how she's slipped into it.
"I don't want to think about it....I don't want to jinx anything," said the 20-year-old, eyes smiling and with a light, rolling chuckle in her voice. "All I know is that I was relaxed today."
Relaxed, perhaps. Smart in her approach and the leader throughout the Women's Round 3 30-minute heat Thursday at the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, definitely.
As she did in her first heat of the competition Tuesday, Conlogue never trailed Thursday against heat rivals Silvana Lima of Brazil and five-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore of Australia. Her win, which came virtue of a best two-wave score of 15.43, gave the 2009 Open Women's champion an automatic spot in Saturday's Women's quarterfinals.
Lima also had won her opening heat Tuesday, a heat that included Gilmore, to advance straight to Thursday's Round 3. She will compete in a Round 4 heat Friday.
Gilmore, on the other hand, had to work her way through to Thursday after losing that Tuesday heat. She was surfing her third heat in three days. She also will surf a Round 4 heat Friday.
"Those are two amazing competitors," Conlogue said of Lima and Gilmore. "Silvana is so progressive, I love that, and Stephanie, I mean, she's a five-time World Champion. I had always admired her when I was growing up, and in high school, when I was trying to qualify (for the tour)."
Thursday's performance nearly mirrored Conlogue's start from Tuesday.
Ranked No. 4 in the Assn. of Surfing Professionals Women's World Title rankings, Conlogue was up and riding within the first minute of the 30-minute heat. She turned in a first wave score of 5.67 which neither Lima, who finished second, or Gilmore, could match. With 22 minutes left, Conlogue gained more distance room when she scored a 7.50 on her second wave.
With under 18 minutes to go. she rode her fourth wave through the pylons and into the north shore side of the pier. She received a score of 7.93 which put her in command with 14:30 remaining.
Her lead was never seriously threatened the remainder of the heat.
Lima turned in a 10.00 final score and Gilmore was third with a 9.03.
With the closing seconds ticking away, Conlogue caught one final ride which took her a few feet shy of the shoreline. She took her time and enjoyed the final moments of her second heat victory as the clock countdown wound down. When the final horn sounded, she broke into a smile as a large group of well-wishers approached her before she could emerge from the water.
She continued with that smile as she posed for pictures and signed autographs for several minutes.
"I was pretty calm out there today," said the Santa Ana resident and graduate (2010) of Sage Hill School. "Two days ago here, I was kind of antsy and the crowd and everything was getting to me. You get amped up on that first day.
"I relaxed by drinking some Chamomile tea yesterday (Wednesday). That really calmed me and that relaxing feeling carried over to today. I was not letting the crowd or the surroundings get into my head."
Tyler Wright of Australia, No. 1 in the Women's World Title rankings, Coco Ho (Hawaii) and Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia), also won Round 3 heats Thursday to join Conlogue in to Saturday's quarterfinals
"I'm feeling pretty good right now," Conlogue said. "The only way that I'm approaching this is day by day, heat by heat. There's still a lot more surfing to go."
Winners in the Men's Prime Round of 24 heats action were Adriano De Souza (Brazil), Kolohe Andino (USA), Vincent Duvignac (France), Adrian Buchan (Australia), Jordy Smith (South Africa), Granger Larsen (Hawaii), Marc Lacomare (France) and Alejo Muniz (Brazil).