“It’s so fun to be competing in front of so many people,” reveals newly crowned Women’s World Champion Carissa Moore.
Fun? Performing in front of half a million rapid, hardcore surf fans, having them critique your every move, every turn, that’s fun? Apparently for Moore, and a slew of the planet’s best surfers, it is.
Last year Moore won the U.S. Open of Surfing, an event that organizers like to refer to as “the greatest show in surf.” Located on the south side of the famed Huntington Beach Pier in Southern California, as far as sheer scope and size, nothing on the Association of Surfing Professionals calendar even comes close to comparing.
Landing in "Surf City, USA" from July 30 through Aug. 7, the actual event site stretches over 14 acres of sand. Last year the contest, rated a Prime event by the ASP, drew over 500,000 people to the beach. But most importantly is the $460,000 prize purse up for grabs, which makes it the richest event of the year, and thusly attracts the world’s most prominent surfers.
2010 US Open of Surf Highlights
What to Watch For
With the Women’s World Title race in the bag, Carissa Moore sits atop the ratings, making her an obvious target for all the other ladies – namely Sally Fitzgibbons. But don’t count out former world champ Sofia Mulanovich either. A national sports icon in her native Peru, she’s no stranger to being swarmed by an overwhelming crowd.
On the men’s side you have to like the chances of hometown hero Brett Simpson, who’s won back-to-back Open titles the last two years.
“The difference between the ’09 victory and the ’10 victory is the confidence,” tells Simpson, who learned to surf under the shadow of the pier. “I feel like I was on a run in ’09, but when I came back in 2010 I knew what to expect, I’d beaten some pretty big names on a big stage, and so I had that peace of mind.”
The wins have earned Simpson $200,000 over the past two years, but giving him a run for his money this time around are a number of very talented, and very hungry surfers. The biggest threat may come in the form of South African Jordy Smith, who’s fresh off a win at the Billabong Pro J-Bay (an event he’s now won twice in a row). With no shortage of maneuvers in his arsenal, Smith’s a potent threat in the tricky, small-wave conditions.
Not coming from nearly as far afield will be 17-year-old San Clemente local Kolohe Andino. Posting numerous notable results this year, the teen phenom has set his sights squarely on the Open. “I haven’t been traveling,” he says, “I’ve just been trying to say around Orange County and focus on the Open.
Also one to watch will be Julian Wilson. Wilson finished fifth at J-Bay, and has fared well in recent ASP Prime events, winning the Quiksilver Pro in Portugal. Like Smith and Andino, Wilson boasts a very lethal array of airs, tricks and turns. One of the most creative surfers on tour, this could very well be his event to win.
“I’m psyched, it’s an epic event, and it’s always a good time,” says Wilson. “I’d like to keep the momentum going.”
But with athletes like Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, Adriano De Souza and just about everybody else on ASP World Tour in attendance, the competition is bound to be fierce.
As for a preliminary surf forecast, the Pacific Ocean is a refreshing 70 degrees at present, beach temps are averaging 75, and while it doesn’t look like the wave are going to be historically huge, a minor southern hemisphere swell in the middle of the week should offer contestable conditions.
Not Just a Surf Contest
If surfing doesn’t tickle your fancy, no sweat. You can dig on the Converse Coastal Carnage pro/am skateboard event. Look for Rune Glifberg, Tom Remillard and Sammy Baca to be the headliners in the bowl.
For those that prefer two wheels over four, the Nike 6.0 HB BMX Pro will be offering something unique to the bikers in the crowd. Presenting a new format for BMX, and featuring all-star Garrett Reynolds, it promises to be pretty spectacular.
And then there’s the Hurley Walk-The-Walk, a high school fashion show competition in which the winning school takes home $25,000. As if that’s not enough, a concert series at the end of the day will keep things rocking late into the evening in Surf City U.S.A.
So there you have it, the madness hits Huntington Beach all next week, come on down and check it out if you have the ways and means.
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