Vans Pier Classic Pro - Huntington Beach, CA
A typical surfing tournament lasts 5+ days. I checked the surf forecast and it looked like a Friday (although the tournament lasted till Sunday) would present the best swells and the best photo opportunities although the surf has been generally lackluster for the prior several weeks. No, it's not because of global warming. (humor)
The round of 64 began at 8:00 AM and I had no problem finding a parking spot in an area that is generally highly congested. Granted the Van's Pro is a WQS event (World Qualifying Series) and the surfers are not among the top 100 in the world, but some of the surfing is truly outstanding. These guys are so good that the surf boards seem to "stick" to their feet. It's also a matter of the surfer controlling the wave and not vice versa.
At first, I was almost the only photographer on the beach; then a couple of event Photogs with their big white lenses showed up. These are the guys who shoot the images that end up in the newspapers and magazines. After about an hour, the rest of the photogs that typically attend these events, began to show up.
The weather was practically perfect for a beachgoer. In March! No clouds in the sky, nice glass, and a mild offshore wind. Just outstanding. However, for photography, this type of lighting is tough on film and and digital sensors. At least the lighting between 8:00 and 10:30 AM can be corrected in post processing. Any later than that, and its an act of frustration unless you're shooting newspaper quality images. I shoot purely for quality so I'm less concerned about who is the most famous surfer, just the surfer having the best heat.
All of the images were shot with a 300-800 F5.6 zoom mounted to Gimbal head. I did use a 12 megapixel camera with a power pack increasing the camera's shooting capability to 8 frames per second.
Additional images of surf images at the Vans Pro can be viewed here.