After the championship performance, and after posing with an oversized check and trophy, Brett Simpson acknowledged that surfing on his home break was an advantage. Growing up, he would surf at Huntington Beach daily, mostly twice a day.
It all started when he was 12. A neighbor took the young Simpson surfing and he got hooked. Later, for Christmas, he asked his father for a surfboard.
Bill Simpson gave in.
“I took him down to Seal Beach at the little jetty, and he was up on the surfboard in a second,” Bill Simpson said. “The rest was history.”
Brett Simpson eventually made his way toward Huntington Beach, and then the sponsors came. Now he’s one of Hurley’s top commodities in its stable of surfers.
He has his own blog, which now has video from his epic win Sunday. A documentary of him is reportedly in the works.
As one of the top surfers on the World Qualifying Series, he’s been on the cover of surfing magazines, voted as a top surfer or one to watch by several media outlets.
Sunday was his time to shine, but he’s still hoping to qualify for the World Championship Tour, the major league for professional surfers. After winning the Open, he shot up from eighth to fifth on the WQS rankings. He needs to be in the top 15 when he finishes the season in December to start out on the WCT in February.
The Open championship certainly provided confidence. It came against the world’s greatest surfers. Pat O’Connell, a Hall of Fame surfer who is vice president of sports marketing for Hurley, said there were surfers competing at the Open who had 20 world titles among them, including Kelly Slater, a nine-time world champion.
“That’s pretty amazing,” O’Connell said. “[Simpson] beat the best of the best. That right there is just a testament to how he surfs.”
It was a wild week at the Open. Slater fell in an upset in the quarterfinals. Surfers went up against large swells and endured low waves during the week. Brett Simpson needed a big win to get into the quarterfinals Saturday. With less than a minute remaining in his heat, Simpson scored an 8.1 on a wave to edge Matt Wilkinson, 14.93-13.5.
“Every time I got tired, the energy level would go up because of everybody cheering for me,” Simpson said.
Simpson defeated defending champ Nathaniel Curran in the quarterfinals. He then beat C.J. Hobgood in the semifinals.
“I felt this was my chance. You don’t get a lot of chances,” he said. “It’s the highest prize money ever, and to win it’s a dream come true.”