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Thousands enjoy swell time

August 04, 2005

Mike Sciacca

Well, the party's over.

And it was some party.

Celebrations took place throughout the weekend as one of

Huntington Beach's premiere annual events, the Bank of the West Beach

Games featuring the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O'Neill,

wrapped up 11 days of intense competition.

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There were first-time and repeat winners in the surfing

competitions; a first-time volleyball tournament, teaming legends

with today's names in the game; and a record-setting effort atop the

world's largest surfboard.

"There definitely was something here for everybody," said Mario

Bonaventura, production manager for International Management Group,

which staged the beach games. "There was a lot of time and hard work

that went into putting this all together, and now it's time for

teardown."

The venue setup on the south side of the pier had a slight, yet

improved, change this year. By turning the Soul Bowl, home of the

skating, BMX and FMX aspect of the games competition, on a different

angle, it allowed for better flow of traffic created by the massive

throngs, organizers said.

Soon after the area cleared out, the post-games challenge began --

cleaning up after more than 300,000 people and knocking down the

festival village.

"We start tearing down on Monday and will go at it all week, until

we are done," said Bonaventura, who finished his third year as

production manager of the event. "This has been the smoothest running

of this event since I've been involved, by far. It's been a great

ride here again in Huntington Beach."

It proved to be a great weekend for Julia Christian and Andy Irons

in the U.S. Open of Surfing competition.

Christian, of Carlsbad, won her first six-star World Qualifying

Series event, the $30,000 Honda U.S. Open of Surfing.

She finished with a point total of 11.83 Saturday on a day the

waves were nonexistent.

Christian, 23, defeated Rebecca Woods of Australia in a final that

featured a first: Woods did not score a point in the 30-minute heat

-- the first time in U.S. Open of Surfing history that a finalist had

failed to catch one wave.

"This is the biggest win of my career," said Christian, who won

only her second professional tournament.

The waves weren't much better on Sunday, yet Andy Irons managed to

ride to his second U.S. Open of Surfing men's title by holding off a

late charge by Rob Machado.

Irons first won the crown in 1998.

It was a fitting end to the $185,000 U.S. Open men's competition.

Two former U.S. Open champions -- one a three-time reigning world

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