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U.S. Open catching a wave

Surf City is hurtling toward a blowout event, sponsored by Vans and featuring myriad competitions, starting this weekend.

July 17, 2013|By Mike Sciacca
  • Beach-goers play frisbee in front of the main bleachers at the U.S. Open of Surfing site next to the Huntington Beach Pier.
Beach-goers play frisbee in front of the main bleachers… (Don Leach, HB Independent )

The stage is nearly set, and the festivities are about to launch.

Action sports return in a big way to Surf City this weekend with the start of the 2013 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing at the Huntington Beach Pier. The nine-day spectacle, which runs through July 28, features surf, skate, BMX, art and music.

Vans is making its debut as the title sponsor of the US Open. Hurley, Nike and Converse previously held that role.

"The US Open is alive and well and we're excited to enter into a new era with Vans as the official title sponsor," said James Leitz, vice president of IMG Action Sports.

IMG Action Sports took ownership of the US Open 14 years ago, and Leitz has been on the beach, overseeing the event, for the duration.

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"Vans is a great fit for this," he said. "They opened their first store locally (Anaheim) in 1966 and they have a deep heritage in skateboarding. We are really happy that they are the title sponsor.

"Our partnership and working relationship with the city is doing very well. Our goal is to put on a great show and to make sure that this event is safe and sane."

The Vans US Open of Surfing is a key event for the men and women on the Assn. of Surfing Professionals (ASP) world tour. Valuable points and seedings are up for grabs in both the Men's Prime — North America's only ASP Prime event — and Women's competition. The winner of a tight Women's World Title race could be determined at the Open.

Early Tuesday, a crew of more than 200 continued building the venue site. Surfing is the centerpiece of the Open, but myriad other competitions and interactive events will be offered, including the debut of the Van Doren Invitational. The invite-only skateboarding event includes pro and amateur riders and features a jam format.

The world's top riders will go head-to-head July 27and 28.

Additionally, Vans has brought back women's skateboarding and BMX to the Open.

Calling it "something to see," Leitz said work began July 8 on an all-cement bowl on the sand at the south side of the pier. The Vans Pro Bowl is new to the Open. Built by California Skateparks, its design is based on the famous Skatepark du Prado bowl in Marseille, France.

"It's pretty amazing and riders are going to love competing there," Leitz said of the Vans Pro Bowl. "The Vans skateboarding gurus were looking to change things up and thinking, 'What's the next step?' and 'Can we do this?' and came up with the bowl idea. It's incredible."

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