The surf didn’t exactly show up, but the crowds did. Rowdies and
rioters stayed away. Beach legends, whether in the water or on the
sand, staked out some new history. And this year’s Bank of the West
Beach Games featuring the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by
O’Neill set another high-water mark for Surf City’s surf scene.
There are plenty who deserve congratulations: U.S. Open winners
Andy Irons and Julia Christian; longboarding champ Joel Tudor; junior
men’s champ Hank Gaskell; women’s junior winner Nikita Robb; all the
new inductees into the Hall of Fame and Walk of Fame; the event’s
organizers, who put on a flawless show; Huntington Beach police
officers, who managed to keep the peace; and the crowds, who came in
the hundreds of thousands, but who came to watch the games and left
with little trouble.
It has, in fact, been years now since any significant problems
accompanied the beach games and surf contest, nearly dooming the
event. Still, it probably is naive and unwise to think that images of
burning police cars and injured spectators will ever fade entirely.
Those distant reminders of what could happen if the peace is not kept
may be necessary to ensure the contest’s continued success.
What those distant reminders no longer do is raise questions of
whether the contest’s success is worth the hassle of traffic, crowds
and added police officers. The U.S. Open, the world’s biggest surf
contest, is right at home on the south side of the Huntington Beach
Pier. It shouldn’t ever be anywhere else.
The rest of the beach games, too, are fully at home in Huntington
now. The biking and skating at Soul Bowl, the volleyball tournament
and the concerts all are part of the beach lifestyle that is Surf
City, never more so than during the last few weeks of July.
Let’s just hope for a better swell next year.