A contestant in the U.S. Open of Surfing in 2010. Photo by Eric Nelson via Wikimedia Commons
A contestant in the U.S. Open of Surfing in 2010. Photo by Eric Nelson via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the world’s best surfers turned out for the annual U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach Saturday with thousands of fans and beachgoers expecting to watch the action in awe while hoping for cooler coastal weather in the midst of an area heat wave.

Spectators got their wish for cooler temperatures in such a big way that the start of the competition was delayed due to a thick blanket of fog. The event’s website, www.vansusopenofsurfing.com, reported that the first trials would begin as soon as the end of the Huntington Beach Pier was visible.

Since an eruption of looting and rioting at the close of the U.S. Open in 2013, the event has gone off without major incidents.

This year, some of the focus may be on Japanese surfer Hiroto Ohhara, who last year became the first Japanese surfer to win the U.S. Open, beating Tanner Hendrickson

“I’m so excited to come back to Huntington and I’m hoping to get a result there since I haven’t put together a good event this year,” Ohhara said. “It’s great to get the jersey on before Huntington and try to make some heats to get my heat strategy in place.

“The U.S. Open is an event I can see myself doing well in so I really want to try my best and see what follows. It’s been great to turn my season around and get things going.”

Griffin Colapinto, a San Clemente native and winner of last year’s event for juniors, has earned a wildcard entry into the men’s round.

“I’m so excited to get the opportunity as the wildcard with Huntington having always been a special place for me,” Colapinto said.

“I won my first-ever contest there when I was 11 and the biggest win of my career last year in the men’s junior. It’s crazy how high the level.”

Huntington Beach has held a competition annually since 1959, except for 1980 and 1981.

The competition was rebranded as the U.S. Open of Surfing in 1994.

Surfers will compete today and Sunday for the final spots in the main event, which begins Monday.

— City News Service

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