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U.S. Open hits new high-water mark

August 04, 2005

The surf didn't exactly show up, but the crowds did. Rowdies and

rioters stayed away. Beach legends, whether in the water or on the

sand, staked out some new history. And this year's Bank of the West

Beach Games featuring the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by

O'Neill set another high-water mark for Surf City's surf scene.

There are plenty who deserve congratulations: U.S. Open winners

Andy Irons and Julia Christian; longboarding champ Joel Tudor; junior

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men's champ Hank Gaskell; women's junior winner Nikita Robb; all the

new inductees into the Hall of Fame and Walk of Fame; the event's

organizers, who put on a flawless show; Huntington Beach police

officers, who managed to keep the peace; and the crowds, who came in

the hundreds of thousands, but who came to watch the games and left

with little trouble.

It has, in fact, been years now since any significant problems

accompanied the beach games and surf contest, nearly dooming the

event. Still, it probably is naive and unwise to think that images of

burning police cars and injured spectators will ever fade entirely.

Those distant reminders of what could happen if the peace is not kept

may be necessary to ensure the contest's continued success.

What those distant reminders no longer do is raise questions of

whether the contest's success is worth the hassle of traffic, crowds

and added police officers. The U.S. Open, the world's biggest surf

contest, is right at home on the south side of the Huntington Beach

Pier. It shouldn't ever be anywhere else.

The rest of the beach games, too, are fully at home in Huntington

now. The biking and skating at Soul Bowl, the volleyball tournament

and the concerts all are part of the beach lifestyle that is Surf

City, never more so than during the last few weeks of July.

Let's just hope for a better swell next year.

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