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U.S. Open connects crowds with Huntington Beach surf culture

Fans crowded the shoreline Tuesday morning in Huntington Beach to watch professional wave riders go toe to toe on Day 4 of the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.

The free action-sports festival, which runs through Sunday, offers visitors a chance to watch top competitors in surfing, skateboarding and BMX cycling.

It also presented an opportunity Tuesday for city officials and state Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) to announce that Sept. 20 will be California Surfing Day.

“There’s no place to make this announcement better than here in Huntington Beach,” Nguyen told a small crowd on the pier near lifeguard Tower Zero. “Surfing comes as part of [the] Huntington Beach identity.”

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Nguyen was flanked by Mayor Mike Posey, state Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach), Diana Dehm, executive director of the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach, and notable people from the surfing industry, including board shaper Duke Aipa, whose father, Ben, will be inducted this week into both the Surfing Walk of Fame and Surfers’ Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach.

“The sport transcended oceans to impact our language, music, fashion and art,” Nguyen said. “Surfing is part of the social, economic and cultural fabric of our state.”

Posey said California Surfing Day will be an annual statewide celebration but that “everyone on this pier knows the epicenter of surfing is right here.”

Aside from its sports events, the U.S. Open offers guests the chance to style their own shirts, create beaded jewelry, play an instrument or lounge in a shaded area at the Van Doren Village.

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On Tuesday morning, a majority of the crowd gathered at the village.

Luis Martinez, 23, of Costa Mesa strummed an acoustic guitar in the music area during a break from working at the Vans tent.

“All this free entertainment is pretty cool,” he said. “You can slip in, jam out a bit and it’s all free.”

Later in the day, a trio of musicians performed songs by Sublime.

Katelyn De Jesus, 8, of Long Beach focused on slipping beads onto a string to create a bracelet. She said her favorite part of the festival was tossing rings onto Vans shoes. She won a checkered backpack and wallet.

Zoie Schrimpf, 9, of Huntington Beach spent the morning coloring while her aunt watched rounds of surfing. Zoie said her favorite part of the festival was getting free granola bars from the Clif Bar tent.

Other visitors lingered in front of a shaper studio trailer where Forrest Minchinton used an electric planer to shave foam from what would become a surfboard to be raffled off at the end of the event.

Arturo Cruz and two of his friends from Washington state worked up a sweat at the Sandbox Fitness tent, where instructors led yoga exercises atop an elevated surfboard.

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Cruz said they were visiting the area for real estate classes and were excited to be in Huntington Beach because they had heard of its reputation for surf culture.

U.S. OPEN EVENTS

Note: The surfing schedule through Sunday will be based on surf conditions. For the full events schedule, visit vansusopenofsurfing.com/2018/schedule.

Wednesday

1 to 3 p.m.: Vans Park Series women’s skateboard practice

5 to 7 p.m.: Vans Park Series select pro skateboard practice

Thursday

2 to 5 p.m.: Vans Park Series women’s skateboard qualifier

6 to 7 p.m.: Vans Park Series skateboard qualifier practice

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Friday

10:30 a.m. to 12:35 p.m.: Vans BMX Pro Cup qualifier

1 to 2 p.m.: Vans Park Series skateboard qualifier practice

Saturday

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Vans Park Series skateboard semifinals, final and awards

Sunday

TBD: Women’s and men’s surfing finals

1 to 4:30 p.m.: Vans BMX Pro Cup final and awards

Priscella.Vega@latimes.com

Twitter: @vegapriscella


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