Huntington soon to swell with surfing

U.S. Open of Surfing has received a "Prime" rating by the Assn. of Surfing Professionals this year.

July 29, 2010|By Mike Sciacca,
  • Workers set up for the 2010 US Open of Surfing on the south side of Huntington Pier Friday, July 23.
Workers set up for the 2010 US Open of Surfing on the south… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

The glow of the spotlight bathed two local favorites in a warm embrace a year ago.

Whose turn will it be to shine center stage this time?

The answer begins to reveal itself Saturday, the day the U.S. Open of Surfing gets underway at the Huntington Beach Pier.

The world's largest professional surfing competition, featuring the Men's and Women's Pro and the Men's and Women's Junior Pro, launches nine days of high-powered events through Aug. 8. This year's event comes on the heels of a 2009 extravaganza that drew 500,000 fans and offered record prize money and a competition that played out in incredible surf.

Oh, and it concluded with a double-whammy on its final weekend when Courtney Conlogue, of Santa Ana and Huntington Beach High School grad (Class of 2003) Brett Simpson emerged with the coveted Women's and Men's Pro titles before an enthusiastic crowd that wildly cheered on the local winners.


It marked the first time the two U.S. Open competitions had been won by local athletes.

"It's hard to believe it was a year ago," Simpson said Monday, a year ago to the date that he had won the Men's Pro and the record $100,000 prize that went with it.

Simpson is back in town for the U.S. Open. Last week, he competed at the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, where he placed ninth.

"I'm excited and feel confident heading into the U.S. Open," the 25-year-old said. "I really enjoy competing in front of my family and friends and the people here in Huntington. There's no feeling like it. I can't wait."

Neither can Conlogue, who was just 16 when she won the Women's Pro and a then-record $10,000 first-place purse last July.

This year, the stakes are higher.

"I'm ready and really, really excited to go out and compete in my own backyard again," she said. "It was such a thrill to win it last year, such a rush, and I'm giving it my all again this year."

Simpson and Conlogue will have to contend with a star-studded lineup of international surfing stars in their quests to repeat as champion.

For the first time, the U.S. Open of Surfing, presented by Hurley, Nike 6.0 and Converse, has been upgraded to "Prime" status by the Assn. of Surfing Professionals, said James Leitz, senior vice president of IMG Action Sports, which owns and operates the event.

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