Surfing Isn't Fun Anymore

Riots, threats at U.S. Open of Surfing

Jul 28, 2014
Outside Magazine

The U.S. Open of Surfing should be known for one thing and one thing only: surfing.    Brandon Means

Surf’s up, but the hang loose attitude is down.

The 2014 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, which began on Saturday in the surf hub of Huntington Beach, California, has had plenty of winners already. Cam Richards took top seed in the Men’s Junior Pro category with a 2.39 scoring lead, while local Kanoa Igarashi took the best combined score. On Sunday, California native Meah Collins jumped to the top of the Women’s Junior Pro competition with a heat score of 16.23 in Round 1. For the Men’s Trial, Cory Arrambide, Bino Lopes, Kai Barger, and Santiago Muniz advanced to Monday’s all-day main event. Legend Kelly Slater is scheduled to ride the waves of Heat 12.

But the sport itself has been losing out, thanks to gun threats, riots, and amped-up security detail tainting the event. The 2013 Open saw more than 20 arrests during riots that broke out on the event's last day. To avoid lawlessness this year, organizers implemented some new, not-so-carefree rules to keep beachgoers in check, such as no alcohol, no music, mandatory bag searches, and a shrunken version of the “vendor’s village.” 

Despite the precautions, there were still scares during opening events. A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of threatening acts of violence after police received reports of “disturbing” social media posts. Authorities obtained a search warrant and found a shotgun and handgun in the teen’s residence, where he was arrested.

Extra precautions have been taken, but the teen told police that he was “just messing around.” “We don’t necessarily know that for sure,” Huntington Beach Police chief Robert Handy told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday. “His comment or statement to the officers last night was that he didn’t mean it.”

Not Now

Open a World of Adventure

Our Dispatch email delivers the stories you can’t afford to miss.

Thank you!