Surf legend Kelly Slater is just one of the athletes in this year's lineup. (Michael Lallande Photography)
Southern California plays host to the world’s largest surf competition and lifestyle festival, the Vans US Open of Surfing, held in Huntington Beach. For one week every summer, “Surf City” attracts over half a million people for surf, skateboard and BMX events. This year is sure to draw a large crowd, as Huntington Beach is celebrating 100 years of surf.
The celebration is hopefully going to put all thoughts of last year’s event being marred by riots out of attendees’ minds. While an unofficial number of 750,000 people showed up at the 2013 Open, there was a lack of wave action and long lines, creating a sour note for many. Thousands of kids had nothing else to do but rebel out of boredom.
“We were all huddled inside the building and we had the lights off because all the people were up here mobbing around, and I was inside and I saw them tearing down the stop sign,” Burt Etheredge, a store employee of the HB Easyrider shop, told NBC Los Angeles. “As soon as that stop sign came down, I knew that stop sign was coming through the window. And sure enough, two seconds later, it did.”
Event organizers issued a statement via Facebook saying that they were very saddened and disappointed by the riots.
This year aims to start things off with a clean slate, eliminating music performances and focusing on the surfing, skateboarding and BMX riding. The US Open of Surfing brings top surfers from around the world to compete for one of the largest prizes that the industry offers in hopes of becoming dubbed “the world’s greatest surfer.”
The list of US Open of Surfing champions has included Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Andy Irons, Julian Wilson, Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore, Courtney Conlogue and Southern California native Brett Simpson. Simpson, raised in Huntington Beach, won the US Open of Surfing Competition in 2009 and successfully defended his title the subsequent year in 2010.
Set to compete in 2014, the locals are sure to cheer on their man who was named the Orange County Surfer of the Year two years in a row in 2008 and 2009. Other participants include Slater, CJ Hobgood, Julian Wilson and Jordy Smith. Some of the women in this year’s lineup are Moore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Malia Manuel and Bianca Buitendag.
The Vans US Open of Surfing takes place from July 26 through Aug. 3, and those wishing to attend should make plans in advance, as nearby hotels tend to sell out each year.
For more information, visit vansusopenofsurfing.com.