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2017 VANS US Open of Surfing Review and RecapAugust 12, 2017
There is no longer a need to mention how the US Open of Surfing has changed since the 2013 riot (or does this count?) and how it has returned to its roots as an actual surf contest.
Here in 2017 the WSL together with VANS has established this event as what it should be, an internationally recognized sporting event, quite possibly a necessity in light of surfing being included in the 2020 Summer Olympics. Commentators such as Joe Turpel certainly referenced the fact on numerous occassions throughout the event.
The crowd was big (likely around the 300,000 spectator mark) but tame, preferring to spend their time on the beach and shopping in the makeshift VANS megastore as opposed to roaming the village looking for free swag (Red Bull and CLIF bars aside) and one-night stands.
Unsure if it was a success based on the assessment so far? The answer is a resounding YES, it was. The same sentiment was echoed by every surf shop owner, bartender, server, salty dog and sea maiden discussing the event each and every day up and down Main and PCH.
The waves prior to the final day (when the swell dropped off a bit) were certainly contest worthy, and allowed the men, women, and juniors to put on an exciting show for spectators, even with their careers on the line. The weather was so good in the final four days that it made you wonder if the same folks behind artificial wave technology have also been working on something to manipulate cumulonimbus clouds and marine layer.
The highlights? For one, the Surfer’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, honoring 3 X World Champion Mick Fanning and Bethany Hamilton, one of the most inspiring professional athletes and people on the planet.
But of course, the main event was the main event, with 10,000 World Qualifying Series (WQS) points on the line for the men and 10,000 World Championship Tour (WCT) points for the women. It did not disappoint.
Relative local (Ventura County) Sage Erickson ousted last year’s champ Tatiana Weston Webb (Kauai) to take the women’s title within the final minute of their heat, winning the crowd over with her beaming smile and infectiously positive energy. Many of those in proximity of her post-heat interview on the beach got choked up (including yours truly) when her father parted the sea of people while boasting “That’s my daughter!” en route to give her a congratulatory bear hug.
But what really got the beach buzzing was Huntington Beach born Kanoa Igarashi, who survived a dramatic and somewhat controversial (but legit) semifinal against event favorite Felipe Toledo, who was hit with an interference call (cutting his top score in half) at the very start of the event during a paddle battle with Igarashi. Kanoa zipped through to the finals against Tomas Hermes (Brazil). Although it took over 20 minutes to catch his first wave, he did so in a dominating fashion, scoring a 9.63 and backing it up with second score to seal the deal on his inevitable fate as a US Open of Surfing champion, as every HB grown pro-surfer should (i.e. Brett Simpson).
The crowd lost its mind, even those who had no idea what they were watching unfold. For all of the athlete accolades, something greater was accomplished at this event. Its continued success further validated the activity as a sport that is not only worth inclusion in the Summer Olympics, but one that will undoubtedly become one of the most popular, if the US Open is of any indication.
So, without further adieu and witty conclusion (just assume I said something accordingly) let’s take a look at the highlights of the 2017 US Open of Surfing.
The VANS US Open of Surfing sandcastle has become an annual village landmark
HB local Courtney Conlogue was all smiles and shakas after a strong showing
An always glowing Coco Ho making her way out to her heat
Tatiana Weston Webb brightening up the early AM scene on the final day
International pride was on full display, with Costa Rica putting together a strong showing in and out of the water
Felipe Toledo and Evan Geiselman spending some time with the fans (groms) after coming in from the surf
Tatiana Weston Webb showing off some US Open hardware
VANS brand ambassador and "Positive Vibe Warrior" Pat Gudauskas throwing us a shaka
Our 2017 US Open of Surfing champs
Aloha from our island's own Duke Kahanamoku (on Main & PCH) - 'til next year!
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Wish You Were Here - Marcus Maraih, Editor, YAHglobal.Com
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post by : Marcus M.