SURFING Blog: Behind the SCENE at the US Open

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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