Arts & Entertainment

The world's best women surfers are in town for the US Open of Surfing

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MAY 17: Courtney Conlogue of the United States surfs during the Final of the Oi Rio Pro on May 17, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MAY 17: Courtney Conlogue of the United States surfs during the Final of the Oi Rio Pro on May 17, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It may be the world's most dynamic field of play and Southern Californians can watch some of the world's top athletes compete on it — for free.

We're talking about the ocean and the Vans US Open of Surfing, which kicked off Saturday, July 23 in Huntington Beach.

The week-long event is an elite women's championship touring event, which means many of the best female surfers in the world are competing. That list includes Carissa Moore, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright and current frontrunner Courtney Conlogue, a Santa Ana native who's on track to win her first women's world title this year.

courtney

"It really is a cross section of the world's best surfers converging at one of the most historic spots in surfing history," says Dave Prodan with the World Surf League.

On the men's side, it's a qualifying event so it's more of a mixed bag. Prodan describes the male athletes as a "cross-section of elite-level surfers and surfers trying to qualify for elite status."

The event has been happening in some form or another since 1959 but has had different names.

These days, it includes four distinct events, culminating Sunday, July 31. In addition to the women's championship and the men's qualifying series, there are the men's and women's pro junior events, for the best surfers under 21.

It's free to attend. Spectators who want a prime seat should head to the south side of the Huntington Beach pier. You can sit on the beach or try to snag a seat in the bleachers. There are also BMX, skate, music and art events around the surfing competition.

If you can't make it to the beach, all the events will be webcast live for free at worldsurfleague.com as well as via the WSL app.