Where and when to catch a pro surf contest this summer

Are you one of those people who sets an alarm for some ungodly hour to wake up and watch Round Two of the World Championship Tour Margaret River event? Maybe you're more of a feet in the sand, wind in your hair, eyes to the horizon for the next set type of surf spectator.

Want to catch some live surf action? Here’s where you can. Photo: Courtesy of the Vans U.S. Open

Either way, the next few months are the best time to catch live professional surfing action without buying a ticket to the North Shore in December. Here's where you can watch the pros in person this summer.

Oceanside, California: Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro

The Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro is a WSL World Qualifying Series event, but also the only all-female action-sports festival in the world. Photo: Courtesy of Supergirlpro.com

July 28-30, 2017
At many events during the year, the fairer sex often winds up playing second fiddle, surfing heats when the swell or the wind aren’t really ideal while the men enjoy the best conditions. But the Supergirl Pro is a chance for fans to go watch the ladies crush Oceanside Pier in a 6,000-point World Surf League World Qualifying Series (WSL WQS) event.

There’s a festival village, concert series, skate ramp and guest speakers, and it’s the only all-female action-sports festival in the world. This summer marks 10 years running.

Huntington Beach, California: Vans U.S. Open of Surfing

Keely Andrew surfs in front of the masses at the 2016 Vans U.S. Open. Photo: Courtesy of WSL/Rowland

July 31 to August 6, 2017
This is possibly the biggest action sports event in the United States when you consider everything it offers. Though not a critical wave, nor a perfect performance wave, Huntington has a long and storied history of surfing mega-events.

Vans throws out a massive bowl for top-notch skate and BMX events, and then there's the surf portion: the prestigious men’s 10,000-point WQS contest, which is usually stacked with the best surfers from the WCT. The women’s event is a WCT headliner.

Virginia Beach, Virginia: Vans Pro at the East Coast Surfing Championships

Yes, there’s a swimsuit contest too, where middle-aged men pick their favorite bikini. Photo: Courtesy of Coastal Edge ECSC

Aug. 22-27, 2017
For East Coasters who won't be able to catch the giant festival on the beach at the Open in Huntington, the Vans Pro at the Coastal Edge East Coast Surfing Championships (ECSC) is a somewhat similar soiree 3,000 miles closer. In 2017, the ECSC will celebrate its 55th year.

Of course, the crown jewel is a 3,000-point WQS men’s pro event, but the cool thing about the ECSC is that it offers something for everyone, from amateur surf divisions to a 5K, a swimsuit contest, BMX, flag football, a paddle race, cornhole — there's even a zipline on the beach.

Nags Head, North Carolina: WRV Outer Banks Pro

The Outer Banks are certainly a nice place to be around Labor Day. Photo: Courtesy of WRVOBXPro.com

Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, 2017
While Huntington and VB may be good contest venues, if there's a special place you might want to be on Labor Day weekend, it's the Outer Banks. There's no cornhole tournament or temporary tattoos in Nags Head — just a 1,000-point WQS men’s surf contest that’s usually blessed with hurricane swell.

And beer.

San Clemente, California: Hurley Lowers Pro/Swatch Trestles Women’s Pro

The one thing none of these other events has is John Florence. Photo: Courtesy of WSL

Sept. 6-17, 2017
What sets the Hurley Pro apart from these other events is that it’s the big time — a WSL WCT stop that ramps up to the world-title race. In sports terms, it’s the start of the playoffs.

It also happens to be held at Lower Trestles — probably the most consistent performance-oriented wave in the U.S. There aren’t any other divisions or sideshows here — just a men’s and women’s contest at the highest level of the sport, and those magical peeling waves.

Belmar, New Jersey: Belmar Pro

The Belmar Pro offers men’s and women’s pro events as well as longboard and legends pro events. Photo: Courtesy of BelmarPro.com

Sept. 8-10, 2017
Pizza on the boardwalk. What more could you ask for?

Belmar, New Jersey, has quite a good little run going with the Belmar Pro, which usually offers a nice combo of waves and warm water. This is no longer a WQS event, but it does have pro divisions for men, women, longboard, masters and legends. Plus, it's closest to the traditional height of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Long Beach, New York: Unsound Pro

The Unsound Pro doesn’t just have a history of waves; it has a direct line to NYC. Photo: Courtesy of Nelson/Unsound

Sept. 13-17, 2017
Each year at the end of summer, the East Coast has a good little circuit of events where competitors move from south to north and finish up in New York. This year, the Unsound Pro, put on by one of the Empire State's premier surf shops, will run in conjunction with a Surfing America prime event and offer shaping demos.

This one has a history of getting great swell, and you're just a short train ride from the Big Apple, which brings a whole new aspect to a surf event.

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