Having recently returned from what he called a “good trip” to South Africa, Mike Todd has had little down time back home.
He’s getting ready to embark on what figures to be for him a whirlwind close to the summer.
The Laguna Beach resident and professional surfer began competing Wednesday at the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill taking place at the Huntington Beach Pier.
Todd began the competition in the Round of 144.
Crowds are expected to swell in excess of 400,000 during a 10-day event that began last Friday.
The world’s largest professional surfing contest continues today with women’s and men’s heats competition and culminates Sunday with the men’s final.
More than 500 world-class surfers from a dozen countries were expected to compete in four divisions, all after a portion of a $175,000-prize purse and the chance to grab a piece of U.S. Open glory.
Also on tap is the $10,000 Lost Pro Junior for men, the largest event of its kind in the nation, and the $10,000 O’Neill U.S. Open of Longboarding. Both of those finals precede the Men’s U.S. Open final on Sunday.
“For us American competitors, it’s one of the few events where we have a home advantage,” Todd said. “Hopefully with this event, I can get on a roll for the upcoming schedule, which is pretty intense.”
The 26-year-old, a veteran when it comes to competing at the U.S. Open — he began with junior division competitions earlier in his career — currently ranks 30th in the World Qualifying Series ratings. This year, his top finishes include ninth at the Hang Loose Pro in Brazil, ninth at the Maitland Toyota Open at Newcastle, Australia and, in his most recent outing, was ninth at the Mr Price Pro at Durban, South Africa held earlier this month.
The U.S. Open is a prelude to a stretch of key contests for Todd that will take him over the course of the next few weeks to Japan, England, France and Portugal.
“This is the meat and bones of our competition schedule, right here,” he said. “The U.S. Open is the biggest qualifying event in the states. If you can do well here, then it proves that you can perform under pressure.
The Honda U.S. Open of Surfing is North America’s only six-star World Qualifying Series-rated men’s and women’s competitions, longboarding and men’s junior (19-and-under) disciplines.
“It’s the biggest WQS (World Qualifying Series) surf competition in North America and draws more spectators than any other surf event in the world,” O’Neill Clothing Chief Executive Officer Toby Bost said in a statement. “The U.S. Open has a rich history in surfing and showcases the best surfers in the world battling it out for the six-star titles, and we are stoked to be part of that energy for the fifth year.”
All events during the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing and the Beach Festival are open to the public, free of charge.
TODAY (*note: Festival Village opens daily at 9 a.m.)