I’m working on a feature for California Life this week at the Vans US Open, which I covered for the first time about 20 years ago while reporting at CNN. At the time, we did a story that considered the question: should surfing be an Olympic sport? It had some Olympic roots, and the “father of surf” in the US, The Duke, was an Olympic swimmer, too. That was prior to the Australian games, and Australia remains a huge player in the world of surfing. It didn’t become a medal sport then, but now – with Japan on the horizon – it is being talked about again.
But that is a different story. This year I’m just back to covering the event which has grown, morphed and grown again, only to rebrand itself as a smaller, more beach-centered event after a couple of years of troubles surrounding the crowds, etc. – most likely not surf or skate or beach fans in general, just thugs. Again, story for a different day.
The HB surf has been typical this week thus far, not big, ever-shifting, requiring patience and planning for the pros to get the scores to advance through to the US Open men’s final (a qualifying series event) and the women’s championship series final, featuring the top women in surfing. We saw some of the wily vets in the men’s draw, past champs like CJ Hobgood and Sunny Garcia, now in their 40s and contemplating a farewell tour here in Surf City. But the true nature of the game, Brazilians and Hawaiians and still the Aussies making the Mainlanders look like a rare breed, while bringing their fans and a true global spirit to what is now known as the World Surfing League (rebranding took place a couple years ago, changing the old ASP/WCT).
So make your way down to HB, aka Surf City, before Sunday’s finals. Don’t expect to find music on stage at night and do expect to see a slightly more surf-centric games – which I think is a good thing. I would go early to get parking, stay late… and enjoy the vibe. Of course, there is skate and BMX and plenty of industry tents – and downtown has the food truck thing going on, too. I will keep you posted here on some other results throughout the week, and let you know when my story airs on California Life.
Here are some links, and a couple of classic stories form my past on the event and Surf City:
great to see my buddy Eric Geller covering for The Beast. He made me look good at OCN back in the day – every day!
Vans US Open with LIVE STREAMING of the event. And tons of video and photos, as well as an event map. Save it all to your phone before you head out there.
World Surf League to learn about the surfers, the heat draws, etc. They also have a decent app for your smart phone.
PS: Thanks to my nephew Kyle Rohloff for the help covering his first US Open.