At first, fear. Not the terrifying, fight-or-flight type of fear but something else — something much deeper. It's the startling reality of an uncivilized people. The 2014 Vans US Open of Surfing attracts some very interesting forms of human existence. It draws the type of people that make you stop and wonder where exactly they came from and what exactly they do. And in order to understand a foreign culture, you must first embrace it. You have to eat, breathe, play and pray like them. You have to walk a mile in their shoes, drink a fifth of vodka in their plastic flask. So that's what I did in Huntington Beach.
The day started super early (around 10:30 am) as a Jimmy Eat World song blared through the speakers of my phone. Ah, a good alarm and an even better morning to be alive. I sat on the balcony of my waterfront hotel and enjoyed an electric cigarette with my coffee, then called my buddy Joe. He called our buddy Todd, who called our buddy Zach. He's the one with the Saturn. The boys were on their way to pick me up. It was hot and humid, so I hosed myself down with Axe body spray and walked out the door. I smelt really fucking good.
We drove down to the contest, but only made it halfway. Had to make a little pitstop at the local tattoo parlor so Zach could get that dragon he got on his bicep touched up. While in there, I figured what the hell. Might as well get some new ink myself. Something tribal, I thought, and maybe incorporate a dolphin? The artist hooked me up with a pretty dope design and we were on our way to the US Open. He was a good guy.
We finally made it to the beach. Parking was such a nightmare! My new tat was kind of sore, so we stopped at a convenience store and grabbed a bottle of rum and some yellow Gatorade. Such a good combo. It perked me right up and we sat in the sun and watched the surfing. The judges loved some guy named Wilian Cardoso, but I didn't see what was so special about him. This dude named Jordy Smith did a shuv-it and I was pretty souped on that. I hooted, I hawed, I huffed, I puffed and I puffed my electric cigarette. The rest of the guys just did some spins and sprays. Real nice cuts.
The rum-arade (Zach calls it Gatorum; he's a dick) was going down smooth and we started talking to some of the local talent if you know what I mean. Lots of the girls had "free hugs" written on them and I was straight killin' it. At one point, I was grinding all over this chick and there wasn't even any music playing. Just the sounds of the sea and the monotonous hum of the crowd. How many were there? Two-thousand? Seven-thousand? It didn't matter. Just me and her, here, now, together, forever…
It felt good to experience the US Open this way, through these eyes. It was like Mardi Gras meets the Super Bowl at the beach. A party in the sand with a professional sporting event to boot. There are many ways to do the US Open and so many people you can be in Huntington Beach and maybe that's what makes this event so special. Who knows who I'll wake up as tomorrow? —Brendan Buckley