Two years after applying for exclusive rights to use the title "Surf City USA," Huntington Beach, California was granted three official trademarks from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to use the moniker in advertisements and on beach paraphernalia. The title, however, did not go uncontested. Santa Cruz, Calif., located almost 400 miles north of Huntington Beach, filed an appeal to claim the title of "Surf City USA" for itself, but has yet to attain any legal support for its efforts. This feud between the two "Surf Cities" has been going on for several years now, and was only recently taken to the courts for resolution.
Surely the residents of both communities realize the trivial nature of a nickname, yet at the same time, with such a core surf scene in both areas, it can't help but sting a little to be legally prevented from advertising an integral aspect of community life. SurferMag.com decided to get to the bottom of this feud and find out what the local surf communities really thought of the matter.
The Santa Cruz surfing community, as expected, expressed mixed reactions to Huntington Beach's new official nickname.
Harry Mao, an employee at the Santa Cruz Surf Museum, said, "There is no location called 'Surf City.' It's a state of mind. If it's a good day and you're getting good rides, then you're in surf city, dude. It's a money situation. They had some money to do it and now they'll make some money off it."
While the Santa Cruz attitude concerning the issue appeared casual, Rob, an employee at Essential Surf Co. in Santa Cruz, expressed a citywide confidence: "It's no big deal. We know where surfing started in California. It's just politicians doing their thing. What's the big deal? Let them have it. It's just a big to-do about nothing."
Huntington Beach residents appeared more enthusiastic about their new moniker.
"This has been 'Surf City' forever. Living in both places it's pretty obvious that Huntington is America's surfing capital. The quality of surfers is a lot better and it is way better for surfing, waves, and girls," said Joey Fumar, an employee at Jack's Surfboards, located across the street from the legendary Huntington Beach Pier — home to the U.S. Open of Surfing.
Huntington Surf and Sport employee Matt McCance added, "We have National Championships — what do they have? We may have more kooks, but there's more surfing history here. Look at all the pros that come out here…isn't their pier still broken anyway?"
Despite recent legal disputes, the rift between the two communities remains good-natured and the two city councils even agreed to a surf competition, slated for September 2, 2006. Both communities acknowledge the trivial nature of nicknames and tourism-boosting ploys, but with pride at stake, the rivalry's intensity persists. McCance taunts: "A surf contest? We'll rip 'em." Not exactly the mindset of an apathetic observer.
What others had to say:
"We don't really care. It's young surfers that care…it's definitely a marketing tool."
— Huntington Beach Volunteer Cop
"We have hotter babes."
— Anika Tishcher, Huntington Surf and Sport employee
"It's hyped up too hard. Everyone up here knows we're the real surf city, look at all the pros that came up here…No one really cares though. The city might care because they wanted to make some money off it but that's probably about it."
— B.C., Shoreline Surf Shop employee in Santa Cruz
"They only want the name to make money. It's not the Aloha Spirit, as pure as surfing should be."
— Brad Lim, Newport Beach resident surfer
"Maybe if they get rid of the separatism…You could call it mushburger USA. Maybe it's Surf City in the water and by the pier, but once you leave the water, go downtown — no way." – Andy Quijano, Newport Beach resident surfer