2012 Nike U.S. Open Preview

Former U.S. Open Champ Shea Lopez on what to expect in Huntington

| posted on July 26, 2012

Kelly Slater makes his way through the chaos in route to his 2011 win at Huntington. Photo: Ellis

If you find yourself within a mile of the Huntington Beach Pier in the next week you’ll bear witness to hundreds of thousands of scantily clad youth at surfing’s spectacle of the year. Festivities carry on throughout the day, but it’s after the last autographs have been signed that the real trouble begins. For some, this is easy to avoid. Fine southern gentlemen, like the Hobgoods, have gained an advantage in many early-morning heats here, fresh off eight perfect hours of sleep. On the other hand, Australians generally find the cheap booze and girls all too inviting, and ingest heartily until they either win the contest or the wheels fall off and they retreat directly to the hospital, rehab, or the safety of their own home soil.

The group of friends I traveled with over the years all had major victories at Huntington Beach, and we all did it the same way. Here’s the blueprint for success at Huntington: Don’t go outside unless completely necessary. There are only distractions out there, setbacks to your ultimate goal of winning. Be confident that you have the talent and experience necessary to win in every condition. If you suffer for a number of years with disappointing results at the event, you have to keep getting after it. Make a conscious decision to win it the next year. Create a scenario that only sees one outcome: you with that over-sized check held high above your head.

Eventually, you’ll have plenty of reason to celebrate. I’m still partying after my U.S. Open victory in ’99. The surge of confidence that title gave me was enough to overcome my nerves and win over the most amazing woman I’d ever met, a far better prize than the giant check. It’s a high I’ve now ridden through 12 years of marriage and the birth of my two kids.

My picks for the 2012 US Open win:

Annually, the upper-tier pros are contractually obligated to attend Huntington. Most are there primarily to enjoy themselves and mix in a few heats on the side. The competitive beast inside Kelly, last year’s champ, awakens only if the waves interest him or a young buck threatens him. This year, we’ll see a number of upstarts—in need of Prime points—emerge from the pack as well.

Bottom line, my call is that a Brazilian will take the win, for one simple reason: they want it more. Adriano, Gabriel, Jadson, Alejo, Heitor, Miguel, Felipe, Jesse…These are all names you will see pressing hard to send Kelly, Taj, Parko, Simpo, Owen, Jordy, Josh, Julian, and Mick back to the grandstand.

Final Verdict: When the smoke clears next Sunday, Adriano De Souza will be the 2012 US Open champ.

Look for Jadson Andre and his Brazilian compatriots to focus on the contest more than the crowds. Photo: Ellis

Who’s your pick to win the 2012 US Open? Leave it in the comments below.

Click here for the full event schedule.

  • Keanu

    Gabriel Medina or John John!

  • tom tom

    victor ribas or benji weatherly or gabe kling or gary elkington

  • jaxwax

    My pick for winner at HB pier,U.S. Open is Damien Hobgood. He has the talent and experience at Huntington to make it through all the distractions.

  • Mark

    Simpo or a Brazilian Goofy. Tough to get good rights there.

  • andy v

    Brett Simpson will win it for the third time because it’s a charm.

  • Mik

    Depends on the swell, doesn’t it? Which is predicted to be….. ?

  • Jack-O

    Gabriel Medina or John John! x 2

  • Dante Rondo

    Could be…Kelly, Owen, John John, Gabriel Medina, Adriano, Brett, , Julian, Parko, Mick or who knows …Andino that’s it Andino !!!

  • James


  • StCalKiddo

    I’d say GM or JJF. Simpo, The Hobgoods, Owen, Nat Young, they have a pretty good shot tho. Kelly could care less about HB.

  • Glen

    I would say that it’s between the brazzos x Jules x John John
    But agree with Shea putting Adriano as favorite. That guys is a freak competitor!

  • Alex

    Depends the swell, I know that this will sound insane, but Medina is not a good surfer in shittie waves, and Huntington can get really, really shittie.

  • mfox

    Live in huntington, been surfing the pier with these fools all week. Medina has been on fire! Just the look on his face in the water tells you he means business, Adriano was also killing it yesterday. As much as I hate to admit it, the Brazi’s might take this one.

  • Maui Keanu

    Brett, Kelly, or Julian. one thing for sure, it’s gonna be sick as always!

  • woody

    Looks like crap waves in the forecast. The southern hemi really farked us this year.

  • Surfchic

    We will see….Kelly is a master poker player and he knows this game better than anyone and he will play his hand when the time comes. The Brazilians have always wanted it but if KS wants his 12th title he knows which contests he has to win and then he will win them b/c he IS THE MAN!! Kelly on his way to #12!!!

  • JCruz

    Jeff Booth will somehow enter the competition, stepping out of the shadows of the Grand Masters and over take Pupo to wing the US Open of Surfing 2012.

  • renato

    Yeahh go adriano, go!!!!!

  • Lane

    Nat Young!

  • Wayne

    Most brazilians are jocks……..if it wasn’t a contest, Rasta has more style than 99.9% of all pros on the WCT……….

  • Jofry

    Damien Hobgood??
    you get to be kidding!!

  • Whamo

    Why waste contests on junk surf?

  • dgcova

    even though i think you are right Shea, the brazos has skills to win this comp, we cant forget about Jonh, Kelly, Taj, Mick, Simpo and others… I ‘d really like to see Dane on it……

  • Paul

    I’m sitting in my car a few blocks from the pier on Monday morning. I was worried about finding parking so I got here super early.

    I just moved to CA from FL and I’m excited to finally check out this event in person.

    I’ll be sure to watch the Brazilians. Thanks for the article.

  • rafael

    #1 Cj
    #3 John
    Encuentro Dominican Republic.

  • tony (ty) carson big island

    Hey shea, how come no mention of the “Don’t do it foundation”? What does a smelly gym shoe, track and field shoe company, have to do with surfing? They are just trying to buy their way in, to try and make a profit from our free ride. I think nike in surfing is an abomination to our surfing past and to any real hardcore surfer worth his salt. Just don’t do it, and ride free.