U.S. Open of Surfing will return to Huntington Beach with new title sponsor

Bettylou Sakura Johnson of Hawaii celebrates after winning the 2022 U.S. Open of Surfing women's title last August.
(James Carbone)
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The turning of the calendar to July means it’s not long until hundreds of thousands of people converge on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier.

The U.S. Open of Surfing returns in 2023 with a new title sponsor — Wallex — and new attractions for attendees like a freestyle motocross competition. This year’s event dates are July 29 through Aug. 6.

Officials announced last week that the digital asset service provider has stepped in for Costa Mesa-based Vans, which had been the title sponsor of the event since 2013. The full name for this year’s competition is the 2023 Wallex U.S. Open of Surfing Presented by Pacifico.


“Wallex is an international company,” Cherie Cohen, World Surf League chief revenue officer, said in a phone interview. “We have been working with them and other acts that they’ve launched around the world ... and they came to us with a relationship they had with our athlete, Leo Fioravanti. We were ready to move forward based on the timetable with their launch here in the United States.”

The U.S. Open is the fourth stop on the 2023 World Surf League Challenger Series, with surfers hoping to rack up points to qualify for the elite Champioship Tour (CT) the following year. As part of the event, Surf City will also host the Huntington Beach Longboard Classic, which is the first of four stops on the WSL Longboard Tour.

Two Hawaiians are the defending champions of the U.S. Open, Zeke Lau on the men’s side and Bettylou Sakara Johnson on the women’s side. Huntington Beach native Kanoa Igarashi, currently ranked No. 16 on the CT, is a typical fan favorite at the U.S. Open as a two-time champion in 2017 and 2018.

Griffin Colapinto of San Clemente does a cutback during the final heat of the 2021 U.S. Open of Surfing.
(James Carbone)

The U.S. Open of Surfing was rebranded to that name in 1994 after previously being called the West Coast Surfing Championships, United States Surfing Championships and OP Pro. It has been held since 1959.

Cohen said it is the event that has the highest onsite attendance on the entire World Surf League calendar for the year.

“I take the legacy of this event very seriously,” Cohen said. “Huntington Beach has been celebrating surf for 100 years, right, so we’re talking about the capital of surfing in the mainland U.S. We’ve had talented champions, Olympians even, most recently a guy like Kanoa Igarashi. It’s also a sort of headquarters for all of the great California surf culture and surfers on tour, many of which are down in San Clemente or up the coast in Ventura.

“The culture is really, really rich. Jack’s Surfboards has been around since 1957, and they’re one of our sponsors ... It’s an opportunity for nine days to celebrate what California surf culture is.”

One new event at the U.S. Open this year will be Nitro Circus “Full Throttle FMX,” a freestyle motocross competition at the beach. Some of the riders expected to compete include Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg, Jarryd McNeil, Beau Bamburg, Keith Sayers and Brian McCarty.

“We’re really excited to partner with Nitro Circus,” Cohen said. “We think they’re going to bring a lot of energy to the beach. Moto has been a part of the event in the past, so we’re bringing it back.”

Fans can expect live music, plenty of brand activations, free games and food trucks among the activities during the U.S. Open, Cohen said.

“Even some professional sports like Teqball will be out there demo-ing and playing with fans,” she said. “There’s something for everyone on the beach.”

The event is free and open to the public.