Sunday, April 06, 2008

Riding High at the Vans Pier Classic

Seven of the top eight WQS surfers in the world are Americans, led by San Clemente's Patrick Gudauskas.
After a pair of 2008 contests on American soil, U.S, surfers are at the top of their game in the ASP World Qualifying Series standings this week. Now – can it continue?
San Clemente's Patrick Gudauskas remains No. 1 in the world after finishing fifth Sunday at the Vans Pier Classic, a 2-star WQS event held at Huntington Beach. He and San Clemente's Jason Miller tied for fifth out of 160 competitors.
At the moment, seven of the top eight WQS surfers in the world are Americans, led by Gudauskas. Brett Simpson from Garden Grove is No. 3. Gudauskas' brother Dane is No. 11. San Clemente's Mike Losness is No. 16. San Clemente's Nathan Yeomans is No. 20.
That's after two WQS contests in North America, one in Hawaii, one in Australia and one in Spain.
It's a testament to the power of the surfing industry producing big-dollar WQS events in home waters carrying hefty WQS points. Most of the U.S. surfers' success so far is due to one big contest – the 5-Star O'Neill Sebastian Inlet Pro, won by Patrick Gudauskas in January in Florida. His victory there earned him 2,000 points. By comparison, Huntington Beach's Shaun Ward got just 500 points for winning the Vans Pier Classic on Sunday. Those points aren't enough to help Ward qualify for surfing's major leagues in 2009. But the Sebastian Inlet Pro has elevated a lot of U.S. surfers high in the ratings.
In North America, the ASP is having nine WQS contests in 2008 – a 6 star, a 5 star, two 4 stars, four 2 stars and a 1 star.
Brazil, by comparison, has eight WQS events – four 6 stars, two 5 stars and two 4 stars. No low-end contests. Europe has 13 WQS events – six 6 stars, one 5 star, two 4 star, two 3 star and two 1 star. The more big-points events that a region hosts, the better chance local surfers have to rise in the WQS.
The next West Coast event, at Trestles from April 29 through May 3, is the 4-star Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro. There's talk of making it a 6 star in 2009.
That would be good news for Patrick and Dane Gudauskas, their brother Tanner, Miller, Losness and other WQS hopefuls like Yeomans, who reached the quarterfinals of the Vans. Chris Drummy, another quarterfinalist Sunday, isn't a fulltime WQS surfer but no doubt would relish some higher-stakes competition, apt to attract more overseas surfers to California to try for big points.
San Clemente's Trevor Saunders could also use higher-powered WQS events here as a launching pad. He was a finalist Sunday in the Ezekiel Pro Jr. division of the Vans, placing third. Tanner Gudauskas was a quarterfinalist, finishing ninth of 64 contestants.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The aftermath of Paintball tournament in HB

Crews have been working around the clock to clean up the paint left over from last week’s Super 7 World Series of Paintball, which drew about 70,000 spectators to see more than 1,500 competitors battle it out in Huntington Beach.

Dante Giuliano, operations manager for event, said a crew of about 75 people has been picking up paintballs from 6 a.m. to midnight to clean up the aftermath. They’ve been literally on their hands and knees plucking balls from the sand, and scooping them up with a shovel with holes that allows the sand to sift through.

Mike Martin was driving down Pacific Coast Highway when he heard a pop-pop-pop noise under his car. When the Huntington Beach resident saw what made the racket, there was orange paint under his wheel well, tires and bumper.

“The street was covered in them, you couldn’t dodge them,” he said. “They were still cracking and popping and squirting all over.”

The mess on Martin’s car occurred after balls accidently came out of a dumpster and landed at the intersection of Beach St. Wednesday morning.
Giuliano said he and four other workers had it cleaned up within a few hours. Giuliano said the paintballs are 100 percent biodegradable.

“It comes off very quickly with water alone,” Giuliano said. City spokeswoman Laurie Payne said the city gets complaints every year about the event, but clean up crews are allowed a week to get the beach back to normal.

The event brings about $480,000 in revenue to the city, and the event organizer pays for the clean up. And the paint isn’t actually paint, it’s a water-soluble substance, she said.
Giuliano said part of the consequence of a fun event is the clean up afterward. “Afterward, we hit it like gangbusters to make it clean,” he said. “I personally can’t leave the beach with a clear conscious if it’s not.”

Environmental crews are on hand to monitor the effort, he said. They will be out there until Friday. “A large portion of the crew is Huntington Beach residents, we take pride in the places we live,” said Giuliano, who helps put up the infrastructure for the U.S. Open of Surfing and Boardfest, an all-girls event held in fall. “This is the beach I come to, this is the beach I bring my kids to, Giuliano said.

Martin still wonders why the city would allow paintballs at the beach. “It’s just ridiculous,” he said. “I’m glad they have someone cleaning it up.”