Last year, the US Open of Surfing made headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. On the evening of the final day, the masses erupted into riot: breaking store windows, tearing down stop signs, and tipping porta-potties. Two-time US Open of Surfing Champion and Huntington Beach local Brett Simpson called the mob’s actions “pathetic” and stated, “It’s up to the city to find a way to never let this happen again.” Three months later, the City of Huntington Beach has come up with a plan to do just that.
In July, the city held a town hall meeting to hear from residents. Locals voiced strong support for the US Open’s return; however, they resoundingly called for a “scaled back” event. Huntington Beach Mayor, Connie Boardman, and the Huntington Beach City Council worked closely with the event’s promoter to develop a plan for the 2014 US Open that the council presented to the Downtown Task Force last Thursday. The plan both “refocuses on sport” and “celebrates the city’s 100 years of surfing.” For the first time in years, the event’s emphasis will purportedly return to surfing, and the city hopes to draw a crowd with eyes focused on the water.
According to Mayor Boardman, the event’s layout will be much simpler compared to years past. There will still be designated retail space for the event’s main sponsors, however, much of the carnival surrounding the competition will be eliminated. There will no longer be rows of booths or vendors passing out freebies to the crowd. The event will also omit the free concert series and the “dust bowl.” Despite those adjustments, the US Open will still host a pro skate bowl where skate and BMX competitions will take place throughout the week. Lastly, Sunday will exclusively feature surfing competition in order to keep the crowd’s attention on the competition, and the maximum number of police officers will be deployed to keep the peace.
Some may be disappointed with these changes, but Boardman hopes the adjustments will encourage “pure surf fans” to attend while discouraging the disorderly, drunken behavior exhibited in 2013.
According to recent changes, it looks like the party’s over, but the US Open of Surfing will live on.