Nike US Open of Surfing Begins in Huntington Beach
Biggest Spectator Event in Surfing Draws Elite Surfers from World Tour
Friday, July 29 – The best surfers in the world will meet in Huntington Beach, CA for the Nike US Open of Surfing for a full week of competition starting on July 30th. The US Open is rated as an ASP Prime event for the men, is the last stop on the women’s ASP World Tour schedule, and is also a men’s and women’s ASP 4-star Pro Junior event. The annual contest is the largest in the surfing world drawing a total of over 500,000 people over the week-long event, with some 100,000 spectators attending the weekend’s final rounds on August 6th and 7th.
This year’s seeded draw looks more like a World Tour heat sheet with 30 of the ASP’s top 34 surfers scheduled to attend. These ASP elite, coupled with the standout surfers from the Prime events, are sure to make this year’s US Open to be one of the best in history. With a prize purse as big as a World Tour event at $460,000, and $100,000 going to one lucky winner, you can bet that surfers will be pulling out all the stops for a victory.
Scheduled to compete in the opening Round of 96 are four from the “Big Five” of the surfing world, Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, and Taj Burrow. Joel Parkinson has not competed at the US Open since ’99, and currently sits atop the World Tour leader board after a 3rd place finish at the Billabong Pro J-Bay last week. Slater “no showed” the J-Bay contest to chase down the swell of a lifetime in Fiji and is surely looking to get back on the competitive horse after watching his peers surpass him on the ratings. Mick Fanning just jumped from 8th to 4th place on tour with his runner-up finish at J-Bay, and is always a threat at any venue. Look for Mick to carry the good form he found at the last event into the beachbreak peaks of HB. Taj Burrow is a small wave wizard, so you can count on him making it through into the final rounds of the event. Burrow is holding steady on tour in the number five position.
You can’t talk about contenders without mentioning the local hero, and winner for the last two years in a row, Huntington Beach’s Brett Simpson. Raising the giant $100,000 check over his head in victory will be more difficult this year with the current draw, but you can expect big things from Simpo, and I’m sure he will not disappoint. The right off the south-side of the pier should be called “Simpson’s Peak” because he has owned it for the past two years of the event.
Other notable standouts include World Tour surfers Dane Reynolds, Julian Wilson, Dusty Payne, Adriano De Souza, Michel Bourez, Patrick Gudauskas, Adrian Buchan, Josh Kerr, Bede Durbidge, and Jeremy Flores. Superstars of the Prime events will be out in full force as well with John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Nat Young, Miguel Pupo, Jack Freestone, and Tanner Gudauskas lighting it up in front of the massive crowd.
One group to watch will be the entire Brazilian contingent. At the last Prime event that took place on California soil, the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro, the Brazilians dominated to say the least. By the time the quarter-finals rolled around, the highly motivated crew filled 12 out of the 16 remaining spots in the event. Miguel Pupo won the contest over local Tanner Gudauskas, and got to bite down on the $30,000 solid gold railroad spike. These guys travel together, party together, surf together, and support each other in and out of the water. Unlike the past generation of Brazilian pros, the new crew of Brazzo’s are polite and respectful, thanking everyone involved during post-heat interviews with increasingly polished English skills. With their hard-working ethic, abundance of energy, and deep support crew, look for many Brazilians to be posting huge scores all the way through to the final rounds. I personally think that Gabriel Medina is one of the best surfers in the world at the moment, and is my pick to win the event. At age 18, Medina is winning Prime events and has made the cut for the second half of the World Tour’s season. I’ve never seen a surfer perform so well at age 18. Not Slater. Not Dane. Not Jordy. No one.
As you can expect with the size and scope of this contest, many other legends and retired vets will be on the draw as well. Hawaiian and former World Champ Sunny Garcia, flowmaster Rob Machado, and Aussie ripper Dean Morrison will be on hand to cause some upsets in the Round of 96 and add to the star power of the event.
And, for the girls? Well, the title race was sealed two weeks ago when 18 year old Carrisa Moore claimed the trophy as the youngest World Champ in ASP history. They will still be battling for the huge prize purse and bragging rights though, so expect some inspiring performances from this new crop of ripping women. Many will want to finish the tour on a strong note in order to carry confidence through to Hawaii in the winter, and into next season as well. Also, Carissa has one more record to break. She has been a finalist for six out of six events so far. You can almost count on her making it seven for seven, and going into the record books for making it into a final in every event of the season. Unbelievable!
Of course, surfing isn’t the only thing going down at the US Open. Skateboarding, BMX, fashion shows, and concerts will keep the thousands of attendees entertained throughout the duration of the event. Over a hundred interactive exhibits, DJ’s, autograph signings, and giveaways will keep everyone stoked throughout the week. – Ryan Richardson
Look here for more coverage of the event as it takes place, including interviews from the competitors.
Watch it live at www.usopenofsurfing.com.