The 2013 Vans US Open of Surfing is set to kickoff this Saturday, July 20 and this year’s mammoth event is slated to see over 20 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) surfers take on the finest up-and-coming talent from around the globe at Huntington Beach Pier.
The Vans US Open of Surfing represents the fourth of only eight ASP Prime rated events in 2013, drawing the world’s best surfers to Surf City in search of crucial points towards their ASP World Ranking in front of millions of passionate fans.
C.J. Hobgood (Melbourne, FL), 34, 2007 US Open Champion and current ASP World No. 9, is one of several past champions in this year’s draw and the Floridian was quick to admit that that winning an event with incredible history in front of a capacity crowd represents a pinnacle moment in any professional surfer’s career.
“Being from the U.S. there are so many memories of surfers that I looked up to winning the open so of course that was built in to my DNA as one on the events that I wanted to win,” Hobgood said. “I saw Tom Curren, Occy, Kelly Slater, Shane Beschen, Rob Machado, Kalani Robb and Andy Irons all win there when I was growing up so I always thought that’s what I had to do make it as a pro surfer.
To be honest it was more of a relief when I won as I thought every year that passed it was going to get harder and harder for me to win. That experience of being in that final and looking all around on the pier and on the sand, and seeing all those people is definitely an experience like nothing that I can tell you I’ve experienced in surfing.”
Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 25, is one Orange County local favorite who has fond memories of the US Open from the beginnings of his childhood. The young goofy-footer has since developed in to one of the nation’s finest talents and is hungry to post a top result in front of his local crowd.
“For us competing in the US Open has been an honor,” Gudauskas said. “It was something that we would always ask our parents to take us to when we were kids just so we could get autographs and see our favorite surfers in real life. So to me it would be a huge deal to do well. The circus that surrounds the event just seems to heighten the surfing and pushes the level. I’ve always had a blast when competing in the event and had a couple really special moments competitively here!”
Gudauskas, past US Open Pro Junior winner and current ASP World No. 30, has been building momentum on his global qualification campaign and with the Vans US Open of Surfing as the only ASP Prime rated event in Mainland America for 2013, the Californian knows a big result is crucial. However, Gudauskas has switched to a more relaxed approach to competition this season and feels his change in focus in contributing to his success.
“I’ve been having a blast this year competing,” Gudauskas said. “Since the US Open is the only USA Prime, I think all of us want to do well here. For me it would be huge to grab something meaty in terms of results but I just want to go out and surf well and get people stoked. That’s kind of been my goal through the year instead of over focusing for getting results.”
Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach, CA), 27, two-times US Open Champion and local event favorite, has dominated the international field of world-class talent at his home-break. Simpson feels that his experience in the Huntington Beach lineup gives him an edge over the competition.
“With our sport it’s half the battle of being comfortable where you are surfing and knowing the wave,” Simpson said. “So for me, I just try using all the advantages I know from surfing out there on a daily basis. It’s not the best wave in the world but it offers a few good maneuvers usually on the outside and if your lucky you can do the Huntington hop and get some rebates in the shorebreak.”
Simpson is another local who spends the majority of his year on the road competing on the ASP WCT and feels there are several advantages that come along with competing at home.
“I’m exhausted from traveling, you know what though, I get to sleep in my new house and bed and know that I will have support once I put that jersey on from day one of the event. That will give me all the energy and excitement I need to perform as well as I can. Now it’s just about using your wave knowledge and let your surfing speak for itself.”
Simpson acknowledges that there are expectations to perform entering the event as a past champion, but uses the pressure as added motivation.
“I really don’t see it as pressure, but more as excitement,” Simpson said. “I always have nerves going into every event and every heat but that’s what keeps me coming back every time! The cool part is knowing that I have done it before, so that give me some nice confidence. I will try to look back and remember those feelings and bring them along for the ride into this US Open!”
Conner Coffin (Santa Barbara, CA), 20, defending US Open Pro Junior champion and wildcard in this year’s men’s main event, will be competing in both divisions in 2013 and feels that surfing in the Pro Junior allows him to build momentum entering his opening men’s heat.
“I really like the schedule for the US Open because at certain events surfing in the Junior and Men’s can be really exhausting if you continue to do well in both. At the US Open it’s awesome to have the junior run the first two days and get lots of practice out at the pier before taking on the big dogs in the main event. Not that the junior is ever easy by any means, but it’s great to get some momentum going in those early rounds and just feel out boards and the conditions. It definitely keeps it fun to surf more heats and it allows me to go into the Prime feeling more relaxed knowing that I have already competed out there the few days prior.”
Kanoa Igarashi (Huntington Beach, CA), 15, runner-up at last year’s Pro Junior, is another main event wildcard to watch and will be the youngest competitor in the Men’s Vans US Open of Surfing. The prodigious Huntington Beach local is incredibly motivated to take on the world’s best surfers at his local break and hopes to gain priceless experience towards his budding professional career.
“Last year I got a wildcard in to the Pro Junior which was really fun and to make the final and get 2nd was a big result for me and gave me confidence,” Igarashi said. “This year I’m in the Prime event, so that’ll be a lot harder but, it’ll get me valuable points for the mid year reseed and good experience to surf against the top guys. I’m so excited for this year!”
In addition to all of the ASP action, the 2013 Vans US Open is a massive action sports festival that will also include the Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational, BMX and Skate Competitions, performances from Modest Mouse, The Faint, Matt Costa and more.