Of all the elite surf contests held in Surf City USA, the US Open of Surfing has marked the high point of the year at this historic venue for over 25 years, setting the stage for such moments as the iconic mid-90’s finals showdown between Kelly Slater and Noah Beschen or the fairytale opportunity for a then-14-year-old Malia Manuel to win it all.
Griffin Colapinto's chair up the beach after his 2021 US Open of Surfing victory. Photo: WSL/ Jenny Herron
With top surfers filling the streets and surf of Huntington Beach for over a week, groms and their guardians may not even have to wait for the official Vans US Open of Surfing autograph sessions to share space with a hero or two.
In this article, we'll break down all you should know about the 2022 Vans US Open of Surfing.
The Basics: The 2023 Wallex US Open of Surfing Presented by Pacifico
What: As the 4th event of the 2022 WSL Challenger Series, the Vans US Open of Surfing will feature the top 96 men and top 64 women working to earn a spot on the 2023 WSL Championship Tour
When: 8 AM to 4 PM daily July 30 — August 7, 2022
Where: Huntington City Beach — 315 Pacific Coast Highway
Parking at the 2023 Wallex US Open of Surfing Presented by Pacifico
Because it's such a hyped event, parking at the Vans US Open of Surfing can be difficult. Here are your options.
Huntington Beach Parking Lot
This sprawling 3.5-mile stretch of beachfront parking is sure to get packed fast, forcing you to hunt all the way down to the end of the City Beach toward State Beach if you don’t get a jump on it.
While not the cheapest option at a $20 daily max, it’s still cheaper than any hotel parking and you can make it worth the money by showing up early for a sunrise coffee while you set up.
Pier Plaza Parking Lot
lots of parking opportunities on both sides of the pier for just $2/hr, and with a $15 daily max you can enjoy the bulk of the day without worry.
1st Street & Atlanta Ave Public Parking
At $2/hour with no daily max, budget-friendly option and is still in an enviable location. The half-mile walk should only take about ten minutes, so pack accordingly to make your gear easy to carry.
Food at the 2023 Wallex US Open of Surfing Presented by Pacifico
Of the many eateries within blocks of the event, here are a couple delectable US Open of Surfing food options to start the week off.
BREAKFAST: Sugar Shack Cafe (213 1/2 Main St.)
A deeply ingrained community staple and home to some of the best breakfast and kindest service in Huntington, it’s no wonder this eatery has become a bit of a tourist trap.
Backup tasty shack option: Sandy’s Beach Shack (315 Pacific Coast Highway).
Photo: WSL/ Sean Rowland
ICONIC: Duke’s Huntington Beach (317 Pacific Coast Highway)
Maybe you’re visiting from Hawaii for the event and want a touch of home, or you want to show extra support to the Hawaiian surfers you’re backing, or just because it’s cheaper than a trip to Honolulu, enjoy Hawaiian flavors and a great view in the name of the legend himself.
Backup icon: Ruby’s Diner (1 Main St.) — though it’s been on the brink of closure for years, the pier-top diner whose image is synonymous with the US Open of Surfing still seems to be serving, so may as well enjoy food over the event while you can.
TACOS: Sancho’s Tacos (602 Pacific Coast Highway)
An affordable, authentic, unpretentious beloved local spot that stands out among the countless Mexican food offerings of this sandy Southern California town.
Pricier backup with a view: Fred’s Mexican Cafe (300 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 201).
5 Spectator Do’s and Don’ts at the 2023 Wallex US Open of Surfing Presented by Pacifico
DO bring an umbrella, hat, plenty of water, and (preferably reef-friendly) sunscreen.
Huntington Beach is highly exposed with little to no shade, so protect your skin and stay hydrated (so leave the booze at home, because none’s allowed here anyway).
Photo: WSL/ Sean Rowland
DON’T bother an athlete right before their heat.
with countless opportunities to interact with your favorite surfers all week, it’s never cool to break their competitive focus for a selfie. Cheers with words of encouragement are rad, and if you don’t get acknowledged in that moment don’t take it personally.
DO pack out your own trash and bring as many reusables as possible (water bottle, coffee cup, metal straw).
Also, don’t be shy to pick up any loose trash you find while enjoying the contest and throw it away.
DON’T block other people’s view.
If you have taller beach chairs, big umbrellas, or choose to stand, let people without umbrellas sitting in lower chairs or just a beach towel go in front of you — the action is literally 100 yards offshore, you won’t even need binoculars.
Photo: Cash Lambert
DO take in the spirit of Huntington.
Check out Surfer’s Walk & Hall of Fame, the many expos of surf and skate gear, and view the scene from the pier itself.
The Wave at the 2023 Wallex US Open of Surfing Presented by Pacifico
Regardless of how many sports, brands, or athletes are aligned with the US Open of Surfing, the wave is the beating heart of it all.
The contest is often run at the South Side HB Pier break, which can be challenging with long shut-down sections and frequent abundant use of the aptly-named Huntington Hop, but with the right Santa Ana winds the walls really stand up for some exciting surfing.
Photo: WSL/ Sean Rowland
Should contest directors opt for the north side of the pier, we’ll see a wedge that occasionally barrels as it breaks right, allowing athletes to shoot the pier and enthrall the crowd or take the long left breaking north.
But when HB is when it goes flat, the wave machine shuts off in a heartbeat, leaving athletes floating in a glassy lake praying for the slightest opportunity, which adds to the drama.
What to Watch For at the 2023 Wallex US Open of Surfing Presented by Pacifico
The US Open of Surfing could offer a big opportunity for newly cut former CT staples like Conner Coffin, who may find comfort in his native California waters.
However, CT contender Kelly Slater having competed here for as long as some of his challengers have been alive means he can’t be written out, nor can Huntington Beach-bred former event winner Kanoa Igarashi or San Clemente natives like former runner-up Griffin Colapinto or the last US Open of Surfing winner, his little brother Crosby.
Photo: WSL/ Kenneth Morris
For the women, former winners are heavily in the native Californian section with consistently strong performances from CT contenders Courtney Conlogue and Lakey Peterson. Tatiana Weston-Webb holds her own as one of the many Brazilian athletes that have made their mark on this historic event, and Stephanie Gilmore, who barely made the mid-season cut, can pad her points at this event where she has consistently done well.
However it goes down, you can expect quite a show at the 2023 Wallex US Open of Surfing Presented by Pacifico.