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Surfing Isn't Fun Anymore

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, Cary 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.”

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NEMO Coda 0

Yes, there's ample justification for the shockingly high price tag.

For starters: stretch stitching in the legs, a DWR-treated shell, and water-resistant 850-fill goose down. Meaty internal draft collars and an overstuffed hood add to the zero-degree Coda's cold-weather chops.

But the bag's versatility impressed us most. Testers were comfortable from a chilly five degrees to a breezy 55, thanks to the Coda's "gills," 
a pair of slits down the torso. Unzip them to vent, or leave them closed to lock in the heat.

Bottom line: This could be your year-round sleeping bag. 0˚; 2.9 lbs

$700, nemoequipment.com 

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SPL’s GoPro Water Housing

Ever wonder how surf photographers get that cool half-in-half-out-of-the-water shot as the surfer rides by? The answer: an underwater housing with a dome port—essentially a big glass bubble on the end of a lens that widens the camera’s point of view.

While these setups can cost much more than $2,000 for large cameras and DSLRs, there is a more affordable option for your GoPro thanks to SPL Water Housings

Fitted to a small handle, the company's housing is made from an ultra-light aluminum mold that holds the GoPro Hero3 in place. On the front, you can attach either a standard flat cover or choose between a 5-inch and 8-inch dome port. Once the camera is in the housing, you can control the shutter with a thumb trigger or with the WiFi remote—if you're not underwater yourself.

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/gopro-spl-housing-product.jpg","caption":"The 5-inch dome port."}%}

Note: This isn't a dive housing, which means it’s not rated to go deep underwater. But it is splash-rated, making it perfect for other water sports such kayaking, fishing, and surfing.

$450, splwaterhousings.com 

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PETA Wants to Pay Your Water Bill

Water resources in America are so screwed right now that some people will pay you to use less even in places that aren't in a drought. 

As of July 22, 34 percent of the country was officially in a state of at least moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and it's only recently that things have gotten so bad. Temperatures naturally wane and wax over the centuries, but as is visible in this New York Times time-lapse, it's clear that what has put a good portion of the West and Southwest in severe drought isn't normal, and global warming is the leading culprit. You'd think this would make people less frivolous with their lawn watering, but as we recently reported, that's not always so.

To make matters worse, a recent report from NASA and the University of California, Irvine shows that it's the water resources we don't even know we depend on that are depleted most quickly. Although Westerners sucked Lake Mead dry, that loss didn't reflect their real water usage. Researchers discovered that during the past decade, three-quarters of Western water loss has been taken from underground groundwater caches.

"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out," lead author Stephanie Castle wrote in a press release. "This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking." Castle's NASA colleagues note that where surface water is highly regulated, it's easy to compensate for surface loss by sucking dry largely unregulated groundwater.  

It's not enough that drought-stricken areas can't manage their water use. In the Eastern United States, cities like Detroit—not even a state away from the largest freshwater resource in the North America—are having human rights issues because of their inability to keep taps running. Detroit Water and Sewage began cutting off water to thousands of city residents in March.

But Detroit has found an unlikely savior in animal welfare group in PETA, which is begging city residents to let it pay their water bills. The catch? The organization will pay 10 families' water bills if those families go vegan for one month, because foods in vegan diets require less water to produce.

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