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H.B. merchants are ‘Openly’ happy

By Logan ChurmPublished: September 01, 2010

Huntington Beach hotels, restaurants and merchants say last month’s U.S. Open of Surfing provided a welcome boom to the local economy, and the numbers suggest that it was an even greater success than last year’s event.
   
The Shorebreak Hotel alone saw a 30 percent spike in revenue over 2009.
   
A wave of 500,000 hard-core surf fans swooshed through the city during the nine-day event. Often referred to as the Super Bowl of surfing, it featured competition among the sport’s top athletes, concerts by national acts like Weezer and 6,600 square feet of retail space.
   
“Unlike last year, even before this event started, there was an increase in revenue,” says Shorebreak General Manager Marco Perry.
   
Downtown restaurant Ra Sushi found itself at the center of much of the action. It played host to two corporate events – one with surf brand Billabong and Pacifico, the other with Rip Curl and Heineken. Local boy Brett Simpson, who has now won back-to-back U.S. Open titles, guest bartended at the Rip Curl/Heineken party, providing a huge draw.
   
“I love the U.S. Open week because it brings the surf inside,” says Ra Sushi Regional Manager John Han. “Business was great. The U.S. Open is the best time of year for Huntington Beach.”
   
Surf, sand and sun are what make Orange County a world- renowned vacation stop. Toss in a town that’s widely known as Surf City USA, and you have the perfect backdrop for the U.S. Open, which is probably why Huntington Beach has been its host city for the last 51 years.
   
And the event has attracted some big-time corporate backing. Hurley, Nike and Converse all signed on as title sponsors this year. (And the first two are signed on for next year, too.) Together they have created the ultimate action-sports festival.
   
Costa Mesa-based Hurley gets a lot of the credit. It was responsible for the 20,000-square-foot action-sports complex that served as a focal point during those nine days, as well as a 6,600-square-foot retail exhibit and a concert series featuring national acts.
   
“From Hurley’s perspective, Huntington Beach is where it all began for us,” says Evan Slater, Hurley’s digital content manager. “We’re simply looking to make surfing and action sports better for everyone.”
   
As for the surf competition itself, what could have worked out better than Simpson winning again? The Huntington Beach local boy stole the show and was carried from the water on the shoulders of a mob of friends.

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