BeachGrit favorite says, "Yikes!"
The U.S. Open at Huntington Beach must be one of God’s favorite professional surf events on His earth. It seems that better than usual surf has pulsed in right before the beginning of the contest window for the last few years creating a buzz of excitement amongst the rebellious pre-teens with their Sharpie’d “Insert Here” and “Do Me In The Butt” skin slogans.
And yesterday Hurricane Methuselah filled in around the pier while some of the best surfers in the world slashed and soared.
Stand-outs included French surfers Marine Le Pen, Maud Le Car and Pauline Ado. A new super rivalry also seems to be forming between Ventura’s Sage Erickson and Santa Barbara’s Courtney Conologue. The two faced each other in the finals of just concluded Oceanside Pro with Conologue taking the win. Sage bashed her to the losers round at Huntington, though, and I like this rivalry because I would like to see Ventura and Santa Barbara go to war.
Lakey Peterson knew how close she was to the Huntington Beach Pier and hoped to make her way through the concrete pier pilings after giving a big hack on a wave.
But the strong waves and current pushed her into the barnacle-covered piling, and her leash wrapped around it. The delicate dance surfers have been doing with the pier the past few days went the wrong way for Peterson, who found herself held underwater by the ocean’s strength.
“Within two seconds, my back hit the piling, my leash wrapped around it,” the Santa Barbara surfer said. “I couldn’t get to the surface, (because) right around the pylons there’s a lot of water pushing around.”
Peterson was able to untangle her leash and was unharmed, but the moment added drama Tuesday as the women’s heats began at the U.S. Open of Surfing, a World Tour stop for the top 17 women battling for a world title in 4- to 5-foot surf. She wasn’t the only one who had to see medics after a pier encounter. Brazil’s Bino Lopes exited the water with blood on his face and arm and the nose of his board smashed during the middle of his heat after hitting a pylon.
It is a wonder this, too, doesn’t happen more often. Not in professional surfing events, of course, very few are held near piers, but just in general. I marvel when surfers shoot the pier. I’ve attempted a few times and made once but so scary while it is happening. So many variables for which to account. Like, wave speed, piling distance, piling spacing, Laird Hamilton, Laird Hamilton’s paddle.
Do you remember when he rode a bomb through the Malibu pier on a SUP? The Malibu pier is much less intimidating than the Huntington Beach pier partially because there are far fewer pilings and partially because they are wood.
But have you ever smashed a pier piling or are you adept at shooting?