Stab Magazine | Huntington’s The Happiest* Place On Earth

Huntington’s The Happiest* Place On Earth

Kanoa Igarashi and Courtney Conlogue give Disneyland a run for their money.

news // Aug 6, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Disneyland is 22 miles from the Huntington Beach Pier. It’s “the happiest place on Earth” most days in Orange County. Not today. Today the Matterhorn held nothing over the pier.

Kanoa Igarashi hopped over Griffin Colapinto in the remaining minutes of the ankle-biting final. The crowd on the beach ran thousands deep to watch Kanoa take out the win and celebrate with an unusual ‘fit-like’ shimmy. It had a little Curren/Occy flavor down there today…if Curren and Occy could do airs, obviously.

Kanoa called it “the best feeling of my life.” Now, he’s the back-to-back champ of the U.S. Open, much like his hometown role model Brett Simpson back in 2009 and 2010.

I wish I got this excited in 2-foot mush. Photo. WSL

And then there was Santa Ana-bred Courtney Conlogue who just dropped hammers on the world title race. She out surfed yellow jersey girl Steph Gilmore in the Huntington pier semi-rippable ripples. She broke down in tears in her post-heat interview, but she’s a strong woman. She skips rope like Rocky Balboa and today she’s the people’s champ. 

She would never say such things in an interview, she’s far too professional, but she had a chip on her shoulder the whole contest. She had a shocker the week prior in her warm-up to the Open at the SuperGirl Pro in Oceanside, and at the beginning of the week there was a bit of doubt in her mind about her ability to perform after coming back from injury. But there was never any question that she approached this contest like it was at her beach and she was the one to beat. She spoke a lot about having “levity”.

An inside stab after the outside Huntington hop

Lifelong friend Danny Nichols stood in as coach, while her family beckoned from the sand. It felt like there was a little bit of Disney magic going on to be honest. 

The U.S. Open is an easy event to roll one’s eyes at. Perhaps it’s more of a spectacle than surf contest at times, and the surf was desperately small this year. Kanoa called it the smallest he’d ever surfed it for a contest…and he’s surfed A LOT of contests at the joint. 

While the finals were going on, Vans boss man Steve Van Doren stood on the stage and soaked it in like an artist eyeing their masterpiece. It’s taken him and his crew at Vans a lot of hard work to make the contest a friendlier and inviting experience, and for that they deserve a lot of credit.

“I just want everyone to come down, have a good time and be happy,” he said. “That was our goal.”

In historical terms, today ranked among “best ever” for the Huntington surf scene. I worked for Nike when it was beyond ridiculous. I was there when Andy Irons won. And this year, the overall vibes were well above average –except for the kid that got arrested in front of the media tent a couple days ago…

They have a venue they can be proud of, even when the Pacific is at its worst.

*Happiest might be slight exaggeration. 


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