The second stop of the 2013 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge was held in Ponce De Leon Inlet, Florida on Tuesday. Originating as a fun and competitive format for the hardcore surf shop riders, the SURFER Shop Team Challenge was one of the most exciting Southern California contests in the early 1980’s. The competition now has seven qualifying regional events around the country, culminating in a national championship held in Bali, Indonesia.
Though the name has changed, the emphasis behind the contest has remained the same. The Oakley Surf Shop Challenge is still about giving back to the heart of surfing – the local shops. Each year, the level of competition advances, the stakes become greater and the prizes keep getting bigger.
This week, ten shops competed for the Southeast regional title, but it was Jacksonville’s Sunrise Surf Shop who came out on top with their fifth consecutive victory, earning them an all-expenses-paid trip to Indonesia in June for the Oakley Pro Bali, where they will compete against other regional qualifiers for a $10,000 grand prize. A clean three-to-four-foot southeast ground swell groomed the beaches of Ponce Inlet. The morning free-surf was stacked with dozens of shop employees and both regional and international pros, all eager to compete for their local shops chance to grab the win and a free ride to paradise.
The first round seemed to be dominated by Aqua East’s Keto Burns, who posted a 7.5 double whammy, and Island Water Sports, who put up the highest heat total of the day (37.34). Local shops Salty Dog and Maui Nix struggled to post scores high enough to advance to the Finals, and Jacksonville’s Sunrise Surf Shop barely managed to squeak into the Final as the last shop to qualify.
The second heat held top talent from Peter Mendia, representing Nomad Surf Shop, Daniel Glenn from Quiet Flight, and Gabe Kling from Surf Station. However, it was wild cards Jeremy Johnston and Noah Schweizer who joined Inlet Charley’s team to make them the top shop to beat.
Aqua East, Inlet Charley’s, Island Water Sports, and Sunrise Surf Shop made up this year’s final. A high score of 7.70 came from Island Water Sport’s team rider, Cheyenne Cotrell, leaving double whammy surfer Tanner Stromanger with little time to put up a score and get back to the box. Meanwhile, Aqua East was having issues finding good enough waves to compete with Sunrise and Inlet Charley’s.
Sunrise appeared to have all the luck on their side during the final. Rather than leaning on team riders for their critical first scores, shop employee/manager Garret Carmichael was the first guy to paddle out. Picking off the wave of the day and posting a 9.17, Garret put them into the lead. Inlet Charley’s knew they had to post something big if they wanted to compete with the reigning Sunrise Shop. With that in mind, Jeremy Johnston put up an 8.5 double whammy to snag the lead, leaving Noah Schweizer nine minutes to get a score of 4.5 or higher. As time wound down, it was uncertain whether Noah knew he had the score or if he was unaware of the time, but the last horn blew and Noah wasn’t in the box. By default, Sunrise was deemed victorious, making one of the most exciting OSSC Finals in recent history. Next up, Sunrise will go on to meet six other teams in Bali.
1. Sunrise Surf Shop
2. Inlet Charley’s
3. Island Water Sport
4. Aqua East
2013 OSSC and OHSSTC Schedule:
· April 5-6 – Southwest – Seaside Reef, Cardiff, Calif.*
· April 9-10 – Southeast – Ponce Inlet, Fla.
· April 12-13 – Mid-Atlantic – Kitty Hawk or Nags Head, Outer Banks, NC
· April 15-16 – Northeast – Manasquan Inlet, Manasquan, NJ
· April 19 – Northwest – Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, Calif.
· May 10 – Hawaii – Ala Moana Bowl, South Shore, Haw.
· May 31-June 1 – West – 54th/56th Street – Newport Beach, Calif.*
· June 17-22 – National Championship – Keramas/Canggu, Bali, Indo.