Can I just say that surf contests are amazing? I mean, at what other sporting event do you have your pick of free front row seats to watch pro athletes? And soft, sandy beach seats at that?! It's exciting and unpredictable and relaxing and meanwhile you can bring your own food, take a nap during the heats you don't care about, get a tan...
This may just be the sporting event for me.
Yesterday we headed up the coast to Huntington Beach to watch the Vans US Surf Open, the 6th stop on the ASP World Tour. After a three hour drive (it drizzled, so naturally Southern California freeways shut down), we pulled into HB, checked in at our AirBnB rental, and headed down to Main Street for food, drinks and the sunset.
Not the sight I expected to see pulling into Surf City.
Carissa Moore's recent induction square at the Surfers' Hall of Fame.
HB's Main Street was packed the night before the final day of the Open...
...and empty the morning of.
This morning, we woke up early and headed down to the beach to watch the two events we'd planned on catching during the Open: the Men's Quarter Finals and the Women's Semi Finals. I was shocked at how the streets had emptied out since the night before.
We got a great spot on the beach and watched as four heats of men took on sparse 3-foot waves. One surfer, Filipe Toledo from Brazil, stood out and it didn't surprise me to find out that he eventually won the whole competition.
As the morning went on, we stayed cool under overcast skies. An announcement was made several times that there was a 40% chance of thunderstorms which might lead to an evacuation of the beach and a pause in the tournament. I can't imagine where all those people would have gone if that had actually happened.
After the men, the Women's Semi Finals kicked off with Malia Manuel against Tyler Wright. Neither of the girls took any waves for the first ten minutes of the 35-minute heat, much to the crowd's confusion and disappointment. But then Tyler just started going after everything... even when Malia had priority, she seemed to back off, apparently holding out for something better. Unfortunately, her strategy didn't work and Tyler was happy to take whatever she didn't want, which led to her winning the heat, and eventually, the Open.
Open Champ, Tyler Wright, coming in from her win during the Semi-Finals.
The second heat was between Aussies Sally Fitzgibbons and 5X World Champ, Stephanie Gilmore. From what I've seen of and heard about both of them, Sally is an athlete and quite the fierce competitor, whereas Steph takes a more balanced, relaxed approach to surfing. I can appreciate both attitudes and I was excited to see them match up against each other.
Sally Fitzgibbon's post-buzzer run during the Semis.
Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons shaking hands after Gilmore's win.
Stephanie Gilmore smiling from her Semi victory.
Even though the match-ups were exciting, this was still the most relaxing sporting event I've ever been to. Which seems obvious given the community that surrounds the sport. Summer is all about relaxing, and I feel like surfers and their fans know how to embrace that better than anybody. Just check out our fellow spectators max relaxing in their Tommy Bahama beach chairs:
In fact, National Relaxation Weekend is coming up from August 15th-18th and word on the street is that we're supposed to relax as hard as possible. If you're in search of ideas for ways to relax, I highly recommend digging your toes in the sand and watching your local surfers at the beach. If you're landlocked, just grab a couple of friends and some beers and throw some surf docs instead.
After this weekend, I feel like everybody should try to make it out to a surf contest at least once. If you're in San Diego, you can even come with me this September to San Clemente, since I plan on heading up to the next stop on the ASP! And thank you to Tommy Bahama for sponsoring today’s post and encouraging me to relax!