Corky Carroll

Huntington Beach transformed into Surf Central

This is the huge and final weekend of the monster biggie surfing contest and extravaganza being held at the Huntington Beach Pier. The Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing.

Not only is this a surfing contest, but also it's a whole surfing "scene." They have built a small city on the south side of the pier with booths and displays of all sorts of surfing products and other things. Plus there is a stage with live music going on in the afternoons. If this were the 60's they would call it a "happening."

I was laying in bed this morning thinking about heading down to the pier to check out the action. I like to see the new guys surf who I have only heard about. The upside of that is I get very motivated when I see good surfing. The downside is I always wind up walking away thinking, "Geeze, I wish I could do that."

When I was a little kid I would already be thinking about how I would learn the new moves I had just seen. Now I am just stuck with the, "Geeze, I wish I could do that." Humph.

Huntington Beach has a certain vibe about it. When I was thinking about the little city they built next to the pier I realized what it is about Huntington Beach that is so different from all the other towns along the shore in Orange County. It's more like a "City" than a town. There are a lot of concrete and big buildings and Pacific Coast Highway is right there running above the beach. It's like Chicago goes surfing or somethin'.

The feeling there has kinda always been like that, like it's bigger there. Take San Clemente or Newport Beach for example. The highway is inland and the surf scene in those towns, which is also near the piers, is more remote, smaller and much more intimate and "local."

Seal Beach too. Laguna doesn't so much have a surf scene as it does a "beach scene." Frisbee dogs and body surfers and art, along with some surfing. Huntington Beach is truly a "Surf City." So, in that matter as well as that it is more or less the center of the known surfing world, "Surf City" is the perfect nickname for it.

One thing I always remember from my years of competing in this event was the huge crowds that showed up to watch. It was such a "big" event. It was such a different experience surfing in front of that many people watching you. The people on the pier were so close they could yell stuff and you could hear them.

And when a set came, and you were going for it, the announcers would come to life and make it seem sooooo big and exciting. The crowd would be going crazy and you were not sure if you were doing anything all "that" great or not. But it sounded like you were anyway. It was both exciting and scary at the same time.

The announcers back in the early days were amazing at making everything that was going on seem way more exciting than it was. Hev's McClelland and Jim Irwin, God love 'em. It would be totally glorious when you got a good ride and those guys would have the crowd in a loving frenzy.

But you DID NOT want to blow it. I can remember falling off and trying to stay underwater as long as possible so I didn't have to come up and face the crowd. They would be yelling and hooting for you and when you ate it there would be this huge "Oooooooooooough!" Kinda a cross been a "oh" and an "ah." But like the painful form of both.

Dentists hear those sounds a lot. It's not something you want to have 100,000 people directing at your blunder.

I was reading the press releases and they are expecting record crowds down there today and tomorrow. Also it looks like there is going to be some good surf. And, it's free. If you are a surfer, or just wanna so see what it's all about, this is THE time to do it.

Get there early and bring plenty of sun protection of all kinds. Hat, sunglasses, sunblock and covering in case you start to burn. You are pretty much guaranteed to see some of the best surfing you might ever get to witness in person. Not to mention a virtual bevy of hot babes. It's an extremely visual experience.