The prestige of California's Huntington Beach Pier speaks for itself, with competitions being held here the last six decades spanning back to the inaugural U.S. Championships in 1959. Last year's inaugural Jack's Surfboards Pro is back to help carry the torch March 23 - 25 as a men's Qualifying Series (QS) 1,500 event.
This stretch of coastline is a welcomed opportunity for those looking to keep the jersey on between major events. It also can help push new talent up the rankings early on.
One of Huntington's most revered competitors, Brett Simpson, is gearing up to compete after taking a brief hiatus. This marks the first event of 2018 for the two-time Vans US Open of Surfing victor, and former Championship Tour (CT) competitor.
"I've just been doing some stuff at home with Hurley and the local groms around the community," Simpson said. "It's super cool for me to see the youth get fired up, and give them some knowledge of what I have learned over the years of traveling and competing. Getting back on the CT isn't the end all for me. I'm going to be doing some events, I'm not going to lie I'd be fired up if I got back there -- but it's not everything anymore."
"I get a lot of joy out of [helping the groms]," Simpson added. "I know when I was young I would always ask a bunch of questions and just try to soak up anything I could from pros that I would interact with. That stuff is priceless. That's what I want to share with our youth around here and help them get better at surfing and be even better people."
Though Simpson may be shying away from the QS's full-time grind, his goals haven't changed. The 33-year-old keeps his blades sharp in every type of wave the beachbreak has to offer and his competitive experience goes unmatched.
"Every time I surf an event at home I want to win," Simpson said. "I feel like I should just with how much time I surf out there. It doesn't always work out that way, though. I've had two monumental wins that put me on the world stage and helped me have an amazing career! So another win would be another notch on the belt. It's going to be fun competing against some of these younger guys."
Jack's Surfboards celebrated its shop doors opening up 60 years ago with this event and the outpour of positive feedback from surfers, and the community, helped push for the event's return. Jack's Surfboards co-owner Jamal Abdelmuti and event director Scott Waring received praise on all fronts -- dubbing the contest set up a "mini Vans US Open."
The 2018 edition's list of competitors is one to be weary of as it continues to draw in talent from around the globe -- including defending winner, Brazilian Hizunome Bettero and his fellow countrymen, former CT competitor, Alex Ribeiro.
Beyond that, there is an array of talent ranging from North America's QS veterans, and more former CT competitors such as Nathan Yeomans, to emerging talents, and even a few threats to the Top 10 of 2018 that include Volcom Pipe Pro victor Joshua Moniz.
The Jack's Surfboards Pro will run at the Huntington Beach Pier, California, March 23 - 25 and will be broadcasted LIVE on worldsurfleague.com.