Get ready to be held to high standards of responsible behavior if you are attending the Vans US Open of Surfing this summer! This year’s festival will have a special emphasis on family, community and surfing. The much anticipated event returns to Huntington Beach, California, featuring a battle of the best surfers on the planet, in addition to skate and BMX competitions from July 26- August 3rd.
The US Open competitors include top stars like Kelly Slater (USA), Dane Reynolds (USA), 2012 champion Julian Wilson (AUS) and defending champion Alejo Muniz (BRA). This year’s competition is an ASP WCT event for the Top 17 female surfers, such as defending champion Carissa Moore (HAW), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and 2012 champion Lakey Peterson (USA).
Six months ago, the Huntington Beach Police Department welcomed Chief Robert Handy to the team, and though he may be new to Surf City, he has certainly spent plenty of time overseeing high profile sporting events and massive crowds in his career. Chief Handy comes to HB after working 2 years as the Chief of Police in San Bernardino, and prior to that, he served his native Phoenix Police Department for 21 years.
Surf Channel reporter John Alvarez recently sat down with Chief Handy to recollect the unfortunate events that occurred last year at the conclusion of the competition. It turns out that Chief Handy was actually in Huntington Beach attending the event as a spectator last year, all while actively pursuing the position as new chief of police.
“My predecessor Chief Ken Small strongly suggested I come out to see what he called the biggest event of the year in Huntington Beach and so I came out with my family to check it out.” -Chief Handy said about attending the US Open of Surfing in 2013.
When the Chief was asked what Huntington Beach PD will do as proactive efforts to ensure this year’s US OPEN goes smoothly he commented, “We as a department already engaged in several conversations with IMG (International Management Group ) and VANS – Both entities are willing to cooperate in making some changes and they also understand how critical it is to have a safe event that provides a family atmosphere.”
We also asked what the most notable changes would be and he responded, “Well, one of the things that attracts a huge crowd is a large scale free concert at the beach and that may be going away this year,” he commented. “We want to focus on surfing, where the athletes can concentrate on competing at their best, and all the spectators can enjoy a fun and safe environment.”
The Chief concluded the interview with some laughter, sharing that, “I recently had my first surf lesson in early May and will continue to build my skills on the sport.”