United States Surfing Championships


Sprawling annual competition for the country's top-ranked amateur surfers, held in late summer or early fall. The United States Surfing Championships (USSC) was held at Huntington Pier from 1964 to 1972, and was regarded as the top event on the California competition calendar; from 1973 to 2003 the contest was held at rotating locations in Texas, Hawaii, California, and the East Coast.

The USSC grew out of the West Coast Surfing Championships, an annual weekend-long event founded in 1959, sponsored by the Huntington Beach Recreation Department and the local Chamber of Commerce, and developed in part by lifeguard chief Vince Moorehouse. Pepsi-Cola was an original event sponsor. The first West Coast Championships featured 73 contestants. In 1964, the event's name was changed to the United States Surfing Championships, as the contest was by that point drawing wave-riders from across the country. ABC's Wide World of Sports covering the event that year.

The number of USSC spectators grew steadily, and by the mid-'60s weekend crowds for the USSC often topped 10,000, with the loudest cheers often reserved for those surfers who shot the Huntington Pier on the biggest waves. For insurance reasons, the city of Huntington demanded that competitors wear hard plastic safety helmets.

The number of USSC age divisions and categories fluctuated in the '60s and early '70s, then grew steadily from the late '70s onward, along with the number of competitors: in 2003, just over 650 surfers competed in 28 categories, including eight longboard divisions, seven bodyboard divisions, and a prosthetic division. Surfers qualify for the USSC by competing in regional amateur circuits, including the Eastern Surfing Association, the Hawaiian Amateur Surfing Association, and the Pacific Region Surfing Association. Virtually immobilized by its enormity—and forced since the early 1980s to compete for a limited amount of surf world media interest and prestige with the National Scholastic Surfing Association Nationals—the USSC is frequently held in subpar waves. Nonetheless, virtually every American surfer of note over the past 40 years has competed in the USSC, including Dewey Weber, Corky Carroll, Linda Benson, David Nuuhiwa, Gerry Lopez, Joyce Hoffman, Dane Kealoha, Tom Curren, Kelly Slater, and Andy Irons. Senior surfer Les Williams of California was a 15-time USSC finalist and six-time victor from 1969 to 1997; senior surfer Bob Holland of Virginia was a 17-time finalist and six-time winner from 1967 to 2000.

Winners for the men's, women's, and juniors divisions of the West Coast Surfing Championships (1959–63) and the United States Surfing Championships are listed below. All events from 1959 to 1972 were held in Huntington Beach; the location for each of the remaining events is noted in parentheses.

1959: Jack Haley, Linda Benson, Louis Tarter

1960: Mike Haley, Linda Benson, Dave Willingham

1961: Ron Sizemore, Linda Benson, Butch Linden

1962: Ilima Kalama, Audie Wilke, Pete Kobsev

1963: LJ Richards, Candy Calhoun, Corky Carroll

1964: Jim Craig, Linda Benson, Rod Sumpter

1965: Mark Martinson, Joyce Hoffman, David Nuuhiwa

1966: Corky Carroll, Joyce Hoffman, David Nuuhiwa

1967: Corky Carroll, Joyce Hoffman, Dru Harrison

1968: David Nuuhiwa, Linda Benson, Brad McCaul

1969: Corky Carroll, Sharron Weber, Niles Osborn

1970: Brad McCaul, Jericho Poppler, Dane Sizzle

1971: David Nuuhiwa, Joyce Hoffman, Barry Amos

1972: Dale Dobson, Mary Setterholm, Lenny Foster

1973: Larry Bertlemann, Laura Powers, Jeff Smith (Malibu, California)

1974: Rick Rasmussen, Isabel McLaughlin, Mark Levy (Hatteras, North Carolina)

1975: Aaron Wright, Grace Knowles, Timmy Carvalho (South Padre Island, Texas)

1976: Clippy Cabato, Laola Lake, Dane Kealoha (Ala Moana, Hawaii)

1977: Duane Wong, Karen McKay, Pat Mulhern (San Onofre, California)

1978: Tim Briers, Mary Ann Hayes, David Nuckles (Hatteras, North Carolina)

1979: Brandon Hayes, Grace Knowles, Phil Treibel (South Padre Island, Texas)

1980: Denton Miyamura, Yolande Elliott, Robin Loo (North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii)

1981: Willy Morris, Lynn Garduque, Tom Curren (San Diego, California)

1982: Charlie Kuhn, Dorothy Dunn, Chris Frohoff (Hatteras, North Carolina)

1983: John Thomas, Tippy Kelly, Chris Burke (South Padre Island, Texas)

1984: Joey Napoleon, Nikki Bockwinkle, Matt Archbold (Makaha, Oahu, Hawaii)

1985: Dan Miller, Dina Demeo, Jeff Booth (Ventura, California)

1986: Bill Johnson, Debra Swaney, Todd Holland (Sebastian Inlet, Florida)

1987: Walter Cerny, Melissa Proud, Scott Blake (North Padre Island, Texas)

1988: Scott Yoshizawa, Kim Briones, Heath Hemmings (Sandy Beach, Hawaii)

1989: Stephen Denham, Julie Whitegon, Jeff Deffenbaugh (North Jetty, Oceanside, California)

1990: Paul Reinecke, Julie Whitegon, Todd Morcom (Sebastian Inlet, Florida)

1991: Donnie Solomon, Connie Clark, Chad Delgado (Port Aransas, Texas)

1992: Jason Gantz, Lisa Wallace, Shea Lopez (Honolulu, Hawaii)

1993: Jason Harcharic, Kim Hamrock, Brian Hewitson (Oceanside, California)

1994: Fisher Bulberth, Kim Hamrock, Ben Bourgeois (Sebastian Inlet, Florida)

1995: Bryan Hewitson, Kim Hamrock, Kyle Garson (South Padre Island, Texas)

1996: Gavin Sutherland, Kim Hamrock, Andy Irons (Ala Moana, Hawaii)

1997: David Pinto, Sharon Polglase, Mikala Jones (Oceanside, California)

1998: Jody Davis, Sandy Chang, Fred Patachia (Oceanside, California)

1999: Ted Navaro, Julie Polansky, Joel Centeio (Oceanside, California)

2000: Travis Hashimoto, Sandy Chang, Joel Centeio (Honolulu, Hawaii)

2001: Justin McBride, Katie Whatley, Daniel Jones (Oceanside, California)

2002: Nathan Carroll, Katie Whatley, Josh Singh (Oceanside, California)

2003: Shane Valieri, Brandon Ragenovich (Oceanside, California)