Nothing against the U.S. Open of Surfing, which reflects how big surfing has become on a financial level for both sponsors and the pro surfers, but if you want to go to a surfing contest and actually see some world-class surfing without sharing your view with a couple hundred thousand of your best friends, you're in luck.
The American Pro Surfing Series is a three-event series, with all three contests being held on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier. The first event was held back in April, and event No. 2 will take place Friday and Saturday.
"I've been judging and working events for more than 25 years," said Scott Waring, a surfing industry veteran and frontman for the APSS. "And I'm thrilled to be putting this event together. The APSS is a great opportunity for young pros and amateurs to compete in their own country, have some fun and display some progressive surfing.
"I expect to see a big turnout of talented amateurs, young pros and proven legends all mixing it up in surfing's version of Times Square, Huntington Beach. We'll be displaying a live webcast so if you can't come down to the beach, you can catch all the action from your home."
Indeed, some of the best local surfers and some not-so-local are competing. But there is one rule — nobody from the Assn. of Surfing Professionals is allowed. Sorry Kelly Slater.
The inaugural event in April saw San Clemente's Chris Ward take home the $5,000 first-place check, beating out second-place Torrey Meister (San Diego) and third-place Kilian Garland (Santa Barbara). Newport Beach's Erica Hosseini won $1,000 in winning the women's division, and she was followed by 12-year-old Meah Collins (Costa Mesa) and Anastasia Ashley (Malibu).
Other surfers expected to compete this weekend include Chris Waring (Seal Beach), Cory Arrambide (Ventura), Kalani Robb (San Clemente), Colin Moran (Costa Mesa), Teddy Navarro (Huntington Beach), Matt Pagan (Hermosa Beach) and Brad Ettinger (Huntington Beach) on the men's side, and former world champ Lisa Andersen on the women's side.
The contest format is a 64-man men's field and a 16-woman women's field with both divisions surfing four-person heats with 50% elimination.
"I think the APSS is a great event," Hosseini said. "It gives a chance for non-ASP surfers to come in and compete, and obviously, being from Newport I would not, not compete in it. Next town over and yeah, it's always good to stay on your toes and compete and have more events in California."
But as everybody knows, the best surfing events in the world are only as good as the waves. And it looks like Mother Nature will cooperate this weekend. This is what Adam Wright from Solspot.com, the official event forecaster, is saying about the waves on Friday and Saturday:
"You can't really get a much better mix of swells for the H.B. Pier. We already have S-SSW swell on the way that will be mixing with some medium-period WNW-NW energy from a waking North Pacific storm track that will work to set up peaky conditions. If that wasn't enough, 'Major' Hurricane Miriam is just starting to move into the North Orange County SE swell window and she will likely be adding additional tropical SE swell to the blend."
The competition gets underway at 8 a.m. Friday with the men's Round of 64, followed at 1:30 p.m. with the men's Round of 32. Saturday's action begins at 9 a.m. with the women's Round of 16 and surfing will continue throughout the day, concluding with the women's final at 2 p.m. and the men's final at 2:30 p.m.
If you can't make it out Friday or Saturday, you can follow the action on a live webcast at http://www.americanprosurfingseries.com. The APSS's third event will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 7.
Just when you thought it was safe to write off Slater in the race for the title of world champion, the old man did it again.
Slater won the Hurley Pro at Trestles, the sixth event in the 10-event ASP World Championship Tour last week.
It was the 50th ASP WCT event win for the 40-year-old Slater, who beat Aussie Joel Parkinson in the final heat.
The victory moved Slater up one spot from fourth place in the WCT rankings to third, trailing leader Mick Fanning, who placed equal-third at Trestles, and Parkinson, who is second overall.
It was a huge victory for Slater in a quest for a 12th world title since there are just four events remaining, the next two in France and Portugal.
"I knew that heat would either make or break me for the year," Slater said. "I would have let Parko have those extra 2,000 points if he'd won and it would look very different on the ratings.
"It's nice heading into Europe. I feel like I've had so many good years at Lowers and the pressure is really on every year to make the final — I feel like it's been like that since I've been on tour. It's cool to win the 50th here. I won my first event as a pro here and it's great to get this win."
JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.