The 2012 Nike U.S. Open of Surfing (USOS) is in full swing now and expects to draw 500,000 people to Huntington Beach to see the world’s best surfers compete and make names for themselves in Surf City.
This jewel in the crown of surfing events started on July 28 and wraps up on Sunday, August 5, when the men’s and women’s champions are named.
Hometown favorite Brett Simpson is taking another run at a three-peat USOS Championship and after a close heat on Thursday is still right in the thick of it.
Simpson told the media, “For me it’s my home break so it’s a very special event. You always want to do well at home and I have had a great success over the past few years.”
SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel talked to KROQ “Surfologist” Rick “Rockin Fig” Fignetti, the official announcer for 19 USOS events. A Huntington Beach local hero with two national surfing titles, Fig said he is excited to be at the mike again for this year’s Open.
To take in all the surfing action it’s a good idea to head to the beach early and stake out a spot on the HB Pier. There’s a lot to see…and skateboarding and bands, too.
Converse, a division of Nike, is staging its Converse Coastal Carnage pro/am skate competition again this year. Forty of the world’s premier skateboarders will be showing off their moves in a giant, aquamarine-colored skate bowl designed to look like a tropical lagoon. The skate action runs from Friday to Sunday.
And, if music is your thing, Nike has it covered. Its lineup of top bands includes Best Coast, Grouplove, and TV on the Radio, the band performing on Friday night.
Another thing to do is join the crowds at the vendor booths to see what’s new.
Event sponsor Hurley sportswear, a division of Nike, has a giant retail store set up right in the middle of the venue. In addition to all the souvenir T-shirts and hats on display, it’s showcasing its latest fashions and action wear.
Nearby, Hurley H20, the company’s charitable foundation that works to make pure water available in impoverished countries, is dispensing water. Alex Lavien, one of the H20 reps, said that being at the USOS “is a great way to raise awareness about people around the world who don’t have water.”
Farther down the boardwalk, people are gathering for a different kind of beverage – Red Bull. The popular energy drink company has a DJ keeping the music going and surf videos playing in its large exhibit booth so there’s a party vibe going on.
The Olympus booth is popular, too, with people eager to see its line of Lifeproof cameras. Available in three versions, the cameras are designed to capture action sports photos and are virtually indestructible. Becky Clough, who is there demo-ing the cameras, said, “They’re shockproof, freezeproof, and waterproof…and the top end TG-1 is perfect for underwater photography.”
Paul Mitchell’s Future Hairstylists, who are regulars at the Open, are getting a good reaction, too, and are kept busy practicing their high fashion haircuts and dos for a donation of $15.
Pura Vida and 31 Bits are both back at the USOS this year. The two companies focus on empowering locals in poor countries by selling their jewelry creations.
Pura Vida’s simple, but surprisingly beautiful, bracelets are made out of string by artisans in Costa Rica’s Dominical Beach area. Originally sold to tourists and surfers, the bracelets are now carried in over 500 U.S. stores with the proceeds helping Costa Rican families.
31 Bits is all about empowering women, Kristin Grossman explained. When company founder Kallie Dovel traveled to Uganda in 2007 she saw women making paper beads from magazine pages, but they didn’t have the means to sell them. “We now employ 110 women in Gulu, Uganda. This helps them to get out of poverty.” Currently the women’s creations are available online and at surf shops and boutiques throughout the U.S.
Another company at this year’s USOS is Action Sports Media Corp, who just launched Caught You Ripping, a photo and video project that catches “you doing whatever you rip at, shoots it and uploads it to the Internet” to share with your friends. ASMC President and CEO Bryan Harrington said, “We take pictures of people that are surfing, skateboarding, motocross racing, whatever it is they do to rip.”
And, when it’s time to take a break, Duke’s restaurant, named after the legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku, is a perfect place to chill out. Right next to the pier, its Hawaiian menu – and a front row seat for the Open – can’t be beat.
With everyone’s eyes focused on the water it’s easy to forget the restaurants and shops located on and around Main Street. That would be a mistake. Every kind of food or fashion is there.
Part of the fun is eating, browsing, buying, and people watching. Plus you’ll be helping the Huntington Beach economy. The City estimates the weeklong USOS event brings in $21 million in revenues.
Finally, before going home, there’s just one more thing to do – remember where you parked your car. Or, head to the “After the Open” Celebrity Surfing Champion Recognition Party at the Waterfront Hilton’s Driftwood Sands Beach (21100 Pacific Coast Highway) on Sunday, August 5, from 4-10 p.m.
Honoring the 2012 USOS participants, surf industry leaders, and community, the party benefits the non-profit Surfrider Foundation dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. For information, go to the foundation website: hsbsurfrider.org/news/
Huntington Beach Pier all decked out for the U.S. Open of Surfing, courtesy of the SurfWriter Girls, Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel.
- Slater, world’s best surfers hit U.S. Open of Surfing (beach.orangecounty.com)
- Bikini beach crowds hit U.S. Open of Surfing (beach.orangecounty.com)
- Massive crowds continue mid-week at U.S. Open of Surfing (beach.orangecounty.com)
- Celebrate International Surfing Day on June 23 (oc-breeze.com)
- H.B. police geared up for US Open of Surfing crowds (ocregister.com)