The U.S. Open of Surfing, one of the country’s premier surf competitions, starts this weekend in Huntington Beach. Half a million people are expected to attend the 9-day event, which also includes skateboarding and BMX competitions on a custom-made, concrete park set up on the sand.
There will also be loads of free activities for spectators, from classes on making surf wax to evening showings of the classic “E.T.” and other films. Here are five things to know before you go:
- A swell is coming. Big waves are expected through Tuesday, Aug. 1, which should make for fun watching. However, the main men’s, women’s and juniors surfing competitions aren’t scheduled to start until Monday and event times will be up to the organizers, depending on swell and other conditions.
- What about all the sharks seen lately along the coast? The organizers will have special shark-watching lifeguards on jet skis to make sure competitors stay safe, The Orange County Register reported.
- No binoculars? No problem. There will be several screens set up on the sand near the pier broadcasting the surf events. The World Surf League will also be live streaming events on its website starting Monday.
- It’s all free, though you can certainly spend money if you like. All of the events are free and open to the public, although the skate-park stadium may fill up for big events. Vans, which sponsors the event, is setting up a “village” south of the pier with games, activities and free hot dogs served daily at noon by Steve Van Doren of Vans. Vans also has a huge, pop-up retail store on the beach offering plenty of ways to spend cash.
- Unless you’re coming super early, don’t try to park near the event. During the two weekends of the event, the city of Huntington Beach offers free parking at Huntington Beach and Edison high schools with frequent shuttles to downtown. If you have a bike rack, look for parking inland and bike to the pier.
See the full schedule of events here.