My Day At The U.S. Open Of Surfing
The US Open has Huntington Beach buzzing. No riots at this point, unlike the chaos in 2013 that made national headlines. Still, thousands of surf fans have flocked to Surf City to get a look at the world’s best surfers and skaters while gleefully wanting to experience the freak show culture that engulfs this event; It’s not quite Sodom and Gomorrah but it respectively holds its own.
No other surf competition provides the atmosphere and rowdy crowds that Huntington Beach produces. The event often has locals cringing while the worst teens and 20 somethings ‘bro’ it up, often ignore the surfing, and use the opportunity to aimlessly wander around to cover themselves with body paint and fondle complete strangers.
We still have the “Free Hugs” girls but they have kind of become a sort of ‘VHS’ type outdated attention seeker. They have been replaced by body paint where guys get their hands lathered up in paint, smack some female butts and chest, (vice versa for the guys) and leave their ‘mark.’ To be fair, they were asking for it. No, literally, they were asking for it as you see here.
These groups, along with the group of 909ers who love to come and destroy the city, have real surf fans shaking their heads in disgust. They’re also, the reason there are more cops than ever before and no free concert this year.
But it’s not all bad.
The U.S. Open of Surfing is actually still pretty cool.
There are tons of vendor on the beach for fans of all sorts. If you want to buy something, there is a pretty good chance it’s there. There are no shortage of kiosks, event merchandise or surf gear by the major sponsors; you can tandem bike with your significant other; you can skate; or hell, you can watch one of the dogs down at the pier skateboard, which has happened this week.
You want to say “eff the police” to a couple of buzz-cut cops and get arrested? You are more than welcome to do that. I personally, enjoyed seeing that myself.
But the main story is the talent at this event.
Other than Trestles, this is usually the only opportunity core mainlanders get to see these legendary surfers. And although, the big story was Kelly Slater withdrawing from the competition due to injury, the U.S. Open still features the best of the best in both the men and women’s division.
Jordy Smith, Julian Wilson, Stephanie Gilmore, and defending ASP champion, Carissa Moore, are just some of the big-time talent that has been on display in full force this week.
Getting to watch these pros rip should be on the bucket list of every sports fan. Plus, the access to these stars is incredible. If you want to rush these guys and girls after a heat while they are still in the water with board in hand to get something signed? No problem. They are happy to do it (unless you’re Kelly Slater). You want to get a selfie with your favorite surfer? That is no issue either and an opportunity this author didn’t pass up with Jordy Smith.
You tell me which event can provide an awesome sport, beautiful beach, beautiful people, amazing talent, great culture, and the chance to see a modern day version of a Victorian Freak Show?
You want a good time? Huntington Beach is selling and the U.S. Open is the magic elixir.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline Sports, a surfing enthusiast, an unhealthy sports fanatic, and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like”CraveOnline Sports on CraveOnline Sports.
Cover Photo Credit: IMG (Michael Lallande)