Changes at The U.S. Open

After last year's riots, event officials move the focus back to surfing

While the U.S. Open may be scaling back, Dane Reynolds will still be going huge. Photo: Russo

While the U.S. Open may be scaling back, Dane Reynolds will still be going huge. Photo: Russo

In response to the riots that occurred at last year's U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, event officials and the city of Huntington have agreed to scale back the size of the event this year. According to the city of Huntington Beach and Vans, there will be no live music concerts and more emphasis will be placed on the actual surf contest and paying homage to the history of the sport.

“Because of the melee that happened after last year’s event, we’re looking to place the focus back on surfing for this year’s US Open. That’s why this event was founded and we’re looking to get back to the contest’s roots,” said Julie Toledo, community relations officer for Huntington Beach. “There won’t be any live music shows this year and you won’t be seeing as many people giving out free merchandise. We’re really excited to place the focus back on surfing.”

The event, which will be a ‘QS prime for the men and a World Tour event for the women, begins on July 26.

At the conclusion of last year's U.S. Open, a small riot broke out when an unruly crowd tore through storefronts, smashed windows, lit small fires, and tipped over Porta Potties. According to some locals and business owners, as the event has grown in size, coupled with last year’s drama, it’s simply proven to be too much to stomach.

"I think it's good that they're trying to put the focus back on the surf contest. It's gotten too big and too out of control over the years. Obviously, last year with the riots being the worst. It was a total mess," said Zach Minnie, manager of Jack's Surf Shop in Huntington. "I feel like a lot of the locals down here and the surfers will be stoked to hear that the event's not going to be as chaotic and out of control. Nobody wants a repeat of what happened last year."

The revamped event, which will include the “Van Doren Challenge,” a contest for BMX riders and skateboarders, will be family-friendly and host art exhibits and movie screenings.  "Vans is again honored to be back on the sand in Huntington Beach for our second year at the Vans US Open of Surfing. We look forward to bringing world-class competition across, surfing, skateboarding and BMX to Southern California, the epicenter of action sports, as well as showcasing the true Van Doren spirit of family to hundreds of thousands of fans on the beach and on the live webcast," said Doug Palladini, Vans Vice President and General Manager of the Americas.

Huntington Beach local and two-time event champion Brett Simpson was enthusiastic about the scaled-down vibe of the event. “I’m very excited about the change. I really believe it has to get back to surfing. That’s what it started out as and that’s where the focus needs to be.  All the other stuff just took eyes off the water. Don’t get me wrong, it was great having those great artists down there but it also created a lot of chaos in the city,” said Simpson. “It’s one thing having a good time with a few drinks, but to have people from all around come in and cause a riot, steal and break stuff, it’s just way out of proportion. Let’s get it back to the basics of watching the top surfers and enjoying the summer in Huntington.”