SURFING Blog: Behind the SCENE at the US Open

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / August 11, 2010


Straight up, the Hurley US Open of Surfing had the highest production value of any surf event ever executed. It was Pay-Per-View quality for free, on demand, all week long. We asked Hurley intern Phil Bannan, who pulled 18-hour days at the beach as part of the event’s media team, to detail his experience in the HB trenches.


In the water by 6:00 AM, out by 7:30. Cover the event all day, upload content ‘til midnight. First to arrive in the morning, last to leave at night. Repeat for nine days straight, fueled by Wahoos and Pacificos. Welcome to the life of Evan Slater and the US Open media crew.

Webcast planning began in April, and US Open event planning, before that. Over 100 people were involved in the entire process, from website to webcast to TV shows, working across different platforms towards the ultimate goal: to make the 2010 US Open of Surfing the best event of all time. Jodie Nelson, the mastermind behind the webcast, led us to victory.

The media tent — our office, if you will — was on the water, out of the blazing sun, secluded from the crazed (generally intoxicated) teenage masses, protected from the ocean breeze and positioned as an optimum vantage point for the surf action. Sounds amazing, huh? We thought so too, until it all got started.

Throughout the nine-day marathon, we enjoyed occasional 30-second breaks, which consisted of everyone stopping what they were doing to watch Dane or one of the several crazy Brazilian kids make use of a Huntington closeout section, hop and wiggle their way to the inside and smack another lip in the shorebreak. At that point the wave was over, and so was our break.

The video crew somehow pumped out heats on demand, which were posted a few minutes after each heat ended — pretty much real time. Photo guys were on the beach all day getting the shot. The production team was busy dealing with young undercover kids caught wearing Volcom Stone costumes. The media and web team uploaded all sorts of neat stuff for your viewing pleasure. Surfers were busy recovering from hangovers. Just a glimpse of what went into the creation of the US Open coverage.

The webcast featured four different live streams. You could watch surf, skate and BMX all at the same time if you so pleased. And once the evening rolled around, the webcast would switch to the live music stage. Fun stuff. The site hosted close to a million visitors throughout the nine-day period and there were 20,000 downloads of the iPhone app. Lots of surf fans out there in cyberspace.

But the scene on the beach was just as crazy. Die-hard surf fans, half-naked females, out-of-control groms and even that Sean Penn guy came to get a taste of the weeklong extravaganza. Six hundred and fifty thousand people made their way down to Huntington Beach — a new record. We have evidence.

Huntington Beach and the US Open of Surfing sure know how to throw a party – a party that we were able to enjoy from the plastic chairs of our dimly lit, oceanfront tent until the late hours of the night. We hope you enjoyed it.

Until next year, Huntington. I can’t exactly say I’ll miss you.

—Phil Bannan

Tags: , ,

Related Posts:


    Those guys did an outstanding job! Top notch! Thanks.

  • Adam

    It’s crazy how packed Huntington gets for this. This was my first year and it was intense. I love to surf and had a great time watching all the greats. Now I can go back to throwing on my HoodieBuddie, crank my tunes, and head to the cleared out beach at 6 am. It’s wonderful.

  • barndog

    Good hanging with you cuz. Great work at the event. Let’s do it again next year!

  • Stan the Man

    All this hype and such a shitty wave. Is it even ironic, or just all too fitting?

  • barfly

    In the middle of Dane Reynolds throwing huge airs or watching the other hundreds of insane heats take place I thought very little about the wave conditions and more about how great these people were surfing. The broadcast and coverage, along with the surfing that took place was top notch. If you were focusing on the waves during the U.S. Open than you were missing out on some great surfing.

  • hb_raddude

    Long live the Huntington hop, bro!
    Thanks for sharing from behind the SCENE.

  • Uncle Joe

    Nice write-up – you da man! have fun down south of the border!!!

  • Brad in OB

    The webcast was superfluous in a good way. I liked the announcers taking more interest in announcing and less in being cool. They were really into it and it showed.

  • JT

    I’m surprised this event wasn’t on TV, live, like they have the Triple Crown in Hawaii or I think Fuel in Australia. Hurley can afford it and the audience is there. I thought this would be a no brainer call for Hurley but the event was still unreal. Well done, especially to Brett for taking down the big names.

  • EB&D

    @Barfly If you surf, the wave quality kind of DOES matter, for reasons that dwell in Obvious Land, in Duh County, on Of Course Street, at #OhLordAreYouJokingHuntingtonSucks.

  • Juc

    Stop complaining about having to “work so hard”. harden up. I think the guys that work in mines or look after sick people in crappy hsopitals for minimum wages would gladly swap spots with any of you poor things, It sounds so tough being surrounded by half naked girls and rock star wannabee’s. It looks like surfing is now a “fully mainstream sport DUDE” Oversold and overhyped, WAX UP , PADDLE OUT , SMILE AND SHOW RESPECT.

  • Blake

    Nice article Phil!!! Go team WEB!!!!

  • Hoo-ya!

    Hey Juc,
    These guys are far from “complainers” — they worked 18 hr days to provide people like you with non-stop entertainment. They weren’t making great pay along the way, but it didn’t matter cuz they were doing something they loved. You should try it sometime, it would be great for your attitude.
    And just for the record…I happen to know that the guy who wrote this article held 3 jobs this summer, is a full-time college student as well as an intercollegiate MPSF volleyball player. So I think he knows the value of hard work. Next time, you might want to try getting to know your source before you start hurling insults, and at the very least, you could start seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty.
    Congrats to the entire Hurley team on a job well-done!

  • barfly

    @EB&D. I am truly sorry that Jeremy Flores did did not give you an autograph. Now I completely understand your hatred for Huntington. It did make for a funny video though.