The Honda U.S. Open of Surfing Presented By O’Neill Features 500 World-Class Athletes Battling Across Five Divisions At Surf City USA’s Famed Pier
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – The world’s largest professional surfing competition, the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill, returns to the Huntington Beach Pier from July 22 to 31, 2005. More than 500 world-class athletes representing a dozen countries will battle over 10 days and across five divisions, all chasing a $185,000 prize purse and the chance to become part of the U.S. Open’s coveted lore.
The massive event, which anchors the Bank of the West Beach Games, boasts North America’s only six-star World Qualifying Series-rated men’s and women’s competitions, longboarding and men’s and women’s junior (19 and under) disciplines. Buoyed by 22 year-old Huntington Beach resident Timmy Reyes’ storybook run to the semi-finals in ’04, the field for the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing is skewing younger as America’s next wave of talent begins to emerge and prosper.
The Honda Men’s U.S. Open showcases 240 competitors and a $125,000 purse. The Honda Women’s U.S. Open of Surfing offers $30,000 in cash prizes to its field of 60 women. With a colorful history dating back to 1959, past champions from the decades include the likes of David Nuuhiwa, Joyce Hoffman and Corky Carroll (’60s and ’70’s), Tom Curren, Frieda Zamba and Mark Occhilupo (’80’s), Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen and Rob Machado (’90’s) and Andy Irons, Cory Lopez and Pauline Menczer (’00’s).
Typically the WQS format features a four-person (top two surfers advance) format from start to finish and a priority system drastically different from the elite World Championship Tour (WCT). However, this year’s U.S. Open of Surfing men’s, women’s and men’s junior divisions will run a uniquely modified version. Quarters, semis and finals all feature man-on-man competition utilizing the WCT’s “priority buoy, ironically first used at this venue in 1982. The round just prior to the quarter-finals, will pit three competitors with the top two moving forward.
Underscoring the dramatic growth of competitive surfing in the U.S., a significant addition to the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing this year is the $10,000 Target Women’s Junior Pro (field of 32) which compliments the existing $10,000 Lost Pro Junior (field of 120) for men, the largest event of its kind in North America. The junior divisions historically offer a glimpse of surfing’s next generation of top pros, with a champions list headlined by Slater, Machado and Irons.
Paying homage to the sport’s pioneers, the $10,000 O’Neill U.S. Open of Longboarding features soulful maneuvers on nine-foot (minimum length) boards mixed with modern aerials and awesome displays of power. The evolution of the U.S Open’s longboarding division would make even the sport’s spiritual founder, Duke Kahanamoku (Olympic swimming champion, Hollywood actor and Hawaiian folk hero)—who first attended the event in 1963, proud.
“IMG is pleased to have Honda on board once again as Title Sponsor of the US Open of Surfing,” says James Leitz, Vice President of IMG. “Honda’s on-going commitment provides a marquee and powerful brand associated with the event and the entire sport of surfing.”
The “2005 Bank of the West Beach Games featuring the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill attracts more than 600 international competitors and features surfing, skateboarding, BMX, FMX and volleyball in world-class venues along with live concerts and an interactive lifestyle festival spread over 12 acres. All events are open to the public, free of charge. The Honda U.S. Open of Surfing is sanctioned by Surfing America/ASP North America. Surfing competition begins on Friday, July 22 and runs through Sunday, July 31. Consumer information is available at www.usopenofsurfing.com and www.bankofthewestbeacchgames.com.