The tide is right for the 2019 Vans US Open of Surfing happening Saturday at Huntington Beach Pier.
Riding a wave of tradition for major competitive surfing at Huntington Beach since 1959, this year’s event presented by Swatch will showcase the world’s best surfers, along with skateboard and BMX competitions, Saturday, July 27, through Sunday, Aug. 4.
On land, most of the action will take place in the sand on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, though events are held throughout the city. There are movie premieres, public skate sessions, art exhibitions, autograph signings at local surf shops, board shaping demos, hands-on creative workshops, induction ceremonies into the Surfing Walk of Fame and Surfers’ Hall of Fame and more family-friendly activities.
In the water, some of the world’s best athletes will vie for points in the World Surf League Qualifying Series with hopes to join the World Tour. Among them, two-time defending event winner Kanoa Igarashi is back to represent his hometown of Huntington Beach and vie for an unprecedented three-peat Vans US Open of Surfing title. Other top contenders include the likes of world-renowned surfers Kolohe Andino, Jadson Andre and Griffin Colapinto.
Women, for the first time, will be offered equal prize money this year to that of the men: $30,000 for first place. However, the women’s competition has been downgraded this year and won’t count toward the World Tour.
Although surfing is the focus, top bicycle motocross (better known simply as BMX) athletes also come to compete in their own competitions during the nine-day event. Professional BMX street rider Dakota Roche, for example, who grew up in Huntington Beach and now calls Costa Mesa home, said he is grateful the premier surfing competition now includes his sport, which involves bike stunts on stairs and ramps.
“Words can’t even explain how thankful I am,” the 32-year-old said “I’m super thankful it’s being brought to such a huge event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people in my hometown. It’s kind of overwhelming to think about it. Super exciting.
`You can’t deny what an amazing place Huntington Beach is. It has such a crazy energy, a great crowd and you’re right next to the ocean. You can’t ask for a better location.”
Roche, who turned pro in 2007, said he still drives around the area looking for new places to do his stunts.
“If I’m not on my bike riding, I’m in my truck driving around looking for new obstacles and new ways to ride things,” Roche said, noting that he gets as inspired by the athletic aspect of the sport as well as the creative side of it.
“That’s my favorite, the exploration-creativity side of things,” he said, noting that he works with a video crew to document stunts.
To see Roche and other competitions and events that are part of the 2019 Vans US Open of Surfing, the full schedule of events (as well as parking information and other tips for attendees) is available at www.vansusopenofsurfing.com/2019/schedule.