Stab’s Brief Guide To The 2023 US Open
Welcome to the circus.
Subtle coming-of-age ceremonies are commonplace in surf communities around the world.
On the North Shore, it’s your first memorable Pipe wave. In Santa Cruz, it may well be yelling at your first tech imperialist. And, for many in Orange County, it’s engaging in a week of debauchery and possible adolescent nudity under the eaves of Huntington’s longstanding pier.
The US Open of Surfing — an event known better for its culturally classless mixing-pot than for its waves — starts tomorrow.
Though this year’s shorepound will be the same as ever (small, mushy, and yet somehow contestable), the event continues to hold its place as a sort of backwards proving ground — the ultimate challenge for those who have spent years chasing the CT shaped carrot-on-a-stick.
In essence, the US Open is the soul-center of the CS, the epitome of that hopeless treadmill toward the Dream Tour. For many, the obstacle Huntington provides looms just as large as Pipeline or Teahupo’o might for others.
“Regardless of how the waves are, watching the US Open can make all of us better surfers,” long time commentator Chris Cote suggests. “By watching and even studying the techniques of the best in waves we surf on a daily basis, you’ll learn a thing or two. As a small wave enthusiast, I get hyped watching pro surfers have to earn it. No joke, the Monday morning after the US Open is the best I will surf all year, just due to closely watching what the pros do in normal waves. Plus the people watching in HB is always ridiculously fun and entertaining.”
Each year, the US Open is characterized by some defining moment — Dave Parmenter riding a longboard as an absurd protest in ‘88, the Beschen v. Slater interference of ‘96, Andy Irons’ floater in ‘09, Paul Fisher’s incisive journalism in ‘11, and of course, Adrian’s Kickback in ‘21.
Alongside the many-stickered shorebreak samurai, no doubt there will be anonymous personalities and irreverent characters hoping to etch their name into the grimy wall of history (see: Jacob Szekely).
According to Visit Huntington CEO Kelly Miller, “an estimated 1,000 jobs are supported by the U.S. Open, direct visitor spending is more than $55 million, and it is estimated that the overall economic impact to Huntington Beach is nearly $100 million.”
“I think it’s going to be fascinating to see the different crowds and types of people who show up,” Miller said.
For those of you who might wish to subject yourself to the best surf-contest-cum-festival that runs on Pacific Standard Time, we’ve compiled a list of the most worthwhile Huntington side-quests to undertake in the next 10 days.
Your writer here will most certainly be present, likely to be found wandering through the Nitro Circus crowd in a kombucha-induced haze.
Oh, and Mikey C may or may not be chaining himself to the pier.
Nitro Circus Full Throttle FMX – July 29th, 30th, & August 5th
Just a few months before their 20th Anniversary tour, Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg, Jarryd McNeil, Beau Bamburg, Keith Sayers and Brian McCarty have set-up a 305 foot ramp and will be doing what they do best — jumping various objects over large gaps.
If you don’t want to watch multiple men huck their carcasses flippantly through the muggy OC atmosphere while Kanoa Igarashi and Tim Bisso take turns splashing each other in knee high water, you might need to get your pulse checked.
Couch jump potentially included.
Coco Ho Autograph Signing July 29th & Film Premiere August 2nd
The Electric Acid Surfboard star and businesswoman who spent more than a decade on the CT will be accompanying the moto-cross antics with an autograph signing this Saturday. Then, this Wednesday at 5pm she’ll be premiering her new Indonesian clip, edited by Layne Stratton, at The Bungalow in Huntington.
We’ll see you there.
Surfer’s Hall of Fame 25th Anniv. Induction Ceremony – Aug 4th
On Friday morning at 9am, an Olympic Champ, the man (sorta) behind bottle-opener sandals, and a surf journalist will enter the Surfers’ Hall Of Fame.
At the 25th anniversary of the dubious Walk Of Fame rendition, cement will be handprinted and speeches will be spoken. We would be attending, but we’re boycotting until Big Dick Power Surfer gets his nomination.
Yes, though it could be argued that surfing is the reason for the US Open, it is naught but a venerable side-quest for many attendees.
As the fourth of six Challenger Series events, this year’s US Open carries far more weight for CT qualification than it did in last year’s schedule. Worth noting, both of last years winners — Zeke Lau and Bettylou Sakura Johnson — went on to qualify for the CT.
Also not be overlooked, this will be the first stop on the 2023 World Longboard Tour.
Good luck, and happy hopping.
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