Saturday, July 27, 2013

Side Show Surfing

I was watching the U.S. Open webcast last Monday as I emptied mountains of boxes into our new home in the 92307.  While the marine layer played it's part in hiding the sun away, everything looked bright and warm out in Huntington Beach which is about 90 miles away from where I live.  Tired of unloading crap that I'll probably never touch or use ever again, I texted Swayze "You down to go watch some surfing and half naked bodies at Huntington Beach on Friday?"  "You had me at naked bodies."  Swayze texted back.

The California dust bowl.
First thing we did was grab some breakfast at The Sugar Shack on Main Street, just a ways from the Huntington Pier.  There we met an old Dogger named Al who ended up having coffee with us at our table, giving us the low down on where to get the best views of the surfers and the revelers.  After breakfast we walked down Main Street to the Pier and ran into the Surfing Hall of Fame Induction, where my favorite big wave charger, Shane Dorian, was being inducted along with Skip Frye and Rockin' Fig.

After that, Al took us over to the middle of the Pier where we watched some of world's best Women and Men's surfing go down, right under our feet.  Literally.  I always thought that The Lane had the best arena style set up for surfing, but from the middle of the Pier, I was right on top of the action.  I could here the competitors paddling, here them grunt and almost feel their spray.  Here are some pics of what went down below us. 

Nat Young getting some air.
Nat Young speeding down the line.
Nat Young's competition, Charles Martin punting one.
Stephanie Gilmore coming directly below us. 

Stephanie Gilmore off a rebound.
Laura Enever took the heat against Gilmore.
We than walked down to the beach where thousands of people sat and watched.  What tripped me out was how knowledgeable the crowd was.  I remember when the second to last Maverick's competition happened when the spectators were allowed to hang out on the hill and cliffs.  I'll put money on it that only about half the crowd knew what was going down.  The other half didn't realize that walking in high heels probably wasn't a good idea.  But this crowd was smart.  Even the pretty girls in g-strings knew what was going down, knew what a hack was and how influential Stephanie Gilmore has been on Women Surfing.  It was pretty refreshing.  I came to a realization, maybe true, maybe not, that surfing is just part of life in SoCal, ingrained in it's culture rather than an irregularity as it is in NorCal.  I'm not trying to put down the place that holds my roots, but it's a fact.

Finally, sun. 
We sat next to the exit and entrance for the competitors.  We watched some of the best women surfers in the world run out.  And some of the most overrated  (you know who I'm talking about).  Here are some pictures from our vantage point.

Bianca Buitendag.
Lakey Peterson.
Carissa Moore
She can out surf probably the top 10 men, seriously.
Out of all the female surfers, I was most impressed by Carissa Moore.  She has the full game folks.  Power surfing, smoothness with a lot of style.  That lady can surf.  Like ya'll didn't know that.  What else tripped me out was Ms. Blanchard.  When she ran out to the beach, her hair was perfect, Mascara was lined up and her skin was radiant and exfoliated.  The lady looked near perfect.  No matter how you look at it, Women's surfing needs Alana just as much as they need Stephanie and Carissa (both beautiful women also).

Ms. Blanchard.
There she goes...
Yeah, she can surf too.
The Van's U.S. Open was interesting to say the least.  It seemed as if surfing was just the side show and all the half naked bodies, booths and loud music were the main attractions.  But at the same time, it's the celebration of surfing in SoCal, the birth of mainland American surfing.  It celebrates the the athleticism, the past, the future, the heros and the foes.  It's all wrapped up in a neat little package for all the world to experience.  For how many people that attended the event, along with the webcast, it is well organized and surprisingly, not crowded even with the thousands of people.  There is a lot of space and always a place to sit and watch the world's best do their thing.  The webcast is great, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't do the spectacle justice.  You have to experience it first hand, full on.  Lots of great things to watch, including surfing.  And even though commercialism has it's greedy little hands on it, you can still feel the celebration of SoCal surfing and the stoke.

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