The WSL just announced the official cancellation of the Vans Us Open of Surfing for 2020.
Disappointing, yes, but expected news. With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in recent months and cases now spiking in California, Huntington Beach is not prepared to host hundreds of thousands of people in 6 weeks time. Not only would it be reckless for spectators, but many surfers are still stuck in countries where either the borders are closed, or a 14-day quarantine is required, both on the way in and out.
On top of that, it’s hard to say if the situation will be better or worse 6 weeks from now. Presently, many states including California are reporting a spike in new infections as businesses and public spaces reopen, and a lot can happen between now and August 3, when the event was meant to start. According to Jennifer Lau, VP of Action Sports at IMG (the company that owns the US Open of Surfing), “The Vans US Open of Surfing has always been about bringing people together in a healthy, fun and interactive environment, and given the size and scale of the event, we can’t see a way to do that this year without sacrificing the very thing that makes it so special.”
What does the US Open’s cancellation mean for competitive surfing at large in 2020? At this point, it would be shocking if the World Championship or Qualifying tours were able to crown a champion at year’s end. And that’s if they end up running any events at all. Last month the WSL announced pro surfing was “on-hold” indefinitely, and while we haven’t heard news one way or another about J-Bay in July, we’re not overly optimistic. From there, the schedule goes Tahiti, Lemoore, France, Portugal and Pipe, but it’s hard to imagine any of those events running, aside from maybe Lemoore, and possibly Pipe.
If you’re like us, you miss competitive surfing more than ever, and would be happy watching anything at this point—even another event in Lemoore.