With all of the Southern California shark mania so far this summer, the Vans U.S. Open Surfing event organizers are taking additional safety precautions at this year’s contest in Huntington Beach by contracting guards to monitor the contest area from two separate personal watercrafts throughout the event, keeping their eyes peeled for any shark activity, as reported by the Orange County Register.
With the infamous great white shark encounter at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa involving Mick Fanning two years ago during competition, as well as this year’s J-Bay Open being put on hold two separate occasions earlier this month due to shark activity, it seems that the World Surf League (WSL) isn’t taking any chances at a spot that has had numerous shark sightings in recent months.
Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Claude Panis told the Register that there were 56 shark sightings in Huntington in 2015, and 36 sightings in 2016, with 17 so far this year. However, the influx of shark sightings near shore up and down the Orange/Los Angeles county coastline has many people in the coastal communities buzzing.
With hundreds of competitors entering the water to compete in one of surfing’s biggest events of the year, the additional precaution is sure to give surfers peace of mind while focusing on winning heats.
“We’re surfing in their home and I think we just need to respect it and have the precautions,” Women’s WCT competitor Courtney Conlogue told the Register. “Driving on the highway is more dangerous than surfing in the ocean. At least with sharks, you know what they are going to do. It’s just part of the territory … I’m sure they’ll have their precautions in place.”
With competition set to begin on Saturday and run through Aug. 6, it’s assuring to know that all competitors will have additional eyes on the water to keep all the surfers safe.
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