Well, the party's over.
And it was some party.
Celebrations took place throughout the weekend as one of
Huntington Beach's premiere annual events, the Bank of the West Beach
Games featuring the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O'Neill,
wrapped up 11 days of intense competition.
There were first-time and repeat winners in the surfing
competitions; a first-time volleyball tournament, teaming legends
with today's names in the game; and a record-setting effort atop the
world's largest surfboard.
"There definitely was something here for everybody," said Mario
Bonaventura, production manager for International Management Group,
which staged the beach games. "There was a lot of time and hard work
that went into putting this all together, and now it's time for
The venue setup on the south side of the pier had a slight, yet
improved, change this year. By turning the Soul Bowl, home of the
skating, BMX and FMX aspect of the games competition, on a different
angle, it allowed for better flow of traffic created by the massive
throngs, organizers said.
Soon after the area cleared out, the post-games challenge began --
cleaning up after more than 300,000 people and knocking down the
"We start tearing down on Monday and will go at it all week, until
we are done," said Bonaventura, who finished his third year as
production manager of the event. "This has been the smoothest running
of this event since I've been involved, by far. It's been a great
ride here again in Huntington Beach."
It proved to be a great weekend for Julia Christian and Andy Irons
in the U.S. Open of Surfing competition.
Christian, of Carlsbad, won her first six-star World Qualifying
Series event, the $30,000 Honda U.S. Open of Surfing.
She finished with a point total of 11.83 Saturday on a day the
waves were nonexistent.
Christian, 23, defeated Rebecca Woods of Australia in a final that
featured a first: Woods did not score a point in the 30-minute heat
-- the first time in U.S. Open of Surfing history that a finalist had
failed to catch one wave.
"This is the biggest win of my career," said Christian, who won
only her second professional tournament.
The waves weren't much better on Sunday, yet Andy Irons managed to
ride to his second U.S. Open of Surfing men's title by holding off a
late charge by Rob Machado.
Irons first won the crown in 1998.
It was a fitting end to the $185,000 U.S. Open men's competition.
Two former U.S. Open champions -- one a three-time reigning world
champion, the other a crowd favorite who has enjoyed an amazing
career -- battled in a 30-minute, man-on-man final.
The two share more than 40 World Championship Tour and World
Qualifying Series titles between them.
It was Irons who had to watch as Machado almost pulled off an
impossible and near-miraculous finish, who came out on top of a
finals heat decided after the final horn.
Machado, of Cardiff, won the U.S. Open in 1995 and 2001. He nearly
won his third event title, which would have been a first for the men
in history of the U.S. Open of Surfing.
The loss in the final heat was his first heat defeat following six
He had only lost his first heat, which came in the round of 96.
"It was fatigue," Machado said of his finish. "I was just stoked
to get that wave at the end. It came out of nowhere. I gave it a
shot, and the crowd went nuts."
Needing a score of 7.77 to overtake Irons, Machado caught one last
wave in the final 30 seconds.
Getting a ride on one of the better waves of the day, his
off-the-top cutback, followed by a floater into the inside and finish
with an upside down aerial maneuver in the shore break had the crowd
in a frenzy.
If the crowd's roar served as any indication to the outcome, then
Machado had appeared to have pulled out the win. But he fell just
short, with a final wave score of 7.33.
Machado had finished with 12.66 points, to 13.10 scored by
"I had lost a couple of events in the final seconds before, and
when I heard the crowd going nuts, I thought, 'Here we go again,'"
said Irons, who was carried up the beach on the shoulders of a crowd
who had embraced him moments after he emerged from the water.
"Rob's a really cool guy and an amazing surfer, but this was a
tough final for us both. We both thought, how slow is this?" With the
lack of waves, It was tough to be patient, he said.
Irons received a check for $15,000, while Machado earned $7,500.
"Winning in Huntington Beach is a great feeling," said Irons, who
returned to Kauai on Monday.
He said he plans to take a two-month hiatus from competition.
"It feels just as good winning this today as it did the first time
around," he added. "The crowd going nuts here is just awesome to
Hank Gaskell of Hawaii won the $10,000 Lost Pro Junior Men's
competition, and Nikita Robb of South Africa won the $10,000 Target
Women's Junior Pro event.
Joel Tudor of San Diego won his eighth title in the $10,000
O'Neill U.S. Open of Longboarding.
Also on Sunday, the finals of the Karch Kiraly Invitational
volleyball tournament brought out the legends of the game, as well as
today's top pros.
The unique tournament format featured six four-player teams,
composed of three men and a woman representing beach cities along the
Southern California coast in the two-day event. Team Hermosa defeated
It was the first time the tournament had been part of the Bank of
the West Beach Games.
"It's been a lot of fun to watch," Kiraly said. "It's great to see
the men and women work together. There have been some awesome
rallied. Mixing up the legends of the game with some of the top
players today, and mixing the sexes, has been a neat combo. We hope
to be back with the games next year."
Setting the tone for the weekend send-off of the games was a
successful attempt at setting an unofficial world record atop the
world's largest surfboard.
At noon on Friday, the unofficial world record for most number of
surfers riding on one surfboard was shattered when, under the
assistance of marine safety personnel, 60 surfers -- a mix of local
lifeguards and members from the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard
program, current pros and legends -- were towed by personal
watercraft into two-foot surf.
The surfboard measured 40 feet by 10 feet and weighed 1,200
The previous unofficial world record was set in March of this
year, when 47 surfers rode the board along Australia's Gold Coast.
The board was built by Nev Hyman of Australia, who was present
Friday for the record-setting attempt.
How well did the Beach Games and U.S. Open of Surfing go this
year? Leave your thoughts on our Readers Hotline at (714) 966-4664,
fax us at (714) 966-4667 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include your name and city where you live.
* MIKE SCIACCA covers sports and writes features. He can be
reached at (714) 966-4611 or by e-mail at