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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST | BRIEFS

Aussies take surf crowns

August 03, 2004|Charles Duhigg

Overcast skies, intermittent swells and crowded beaches greeted hundreds of thousands of spectators at the U.S. Open of Surfing last week.

Taj Burrow, 26, and Chelsea Gorgenson, 20, of Australia won their divisions after nine days of competition, as North America's largest surfing event concluded Sunday at Huntington Beach.

But the crowd's sympathies were with the hometown crew. A local surfer, Timmy Reyes, 22, reached the semi-finals after twice defeating reigning world champion Andy Irons.

Reyes placed fourth in the penultimate round.

Surfers were judged by criteria that included wave size, wave quality and number and type of maneuvers performed.

The event offered $175,000 in prizes, but the real reward for top performers is joining the 44 professional surfers who participate in top competitions.

"This is the world's largest qualifying event," says event spokesman Michael Kingsbury. "If you win, it almost assures you of qualifying for the elite series."

The event also featured a beach festival, 90 exhibitors spread across 12 acres, volleyball, skateboarding, BMX and motocross competitions and a concert.

But most folks showed up to watch surfing and each other. "This is so sweet," said Adam Gallo, 19, as he stood on Huntington Pier. "Great surfers and lots of girls. This is the best week of the summer."

-- Charles Duhigg

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