San Juan Capistrano, CA (Sept. 10, 2009) – The Oakley Surf Shop Challenge National Championship gets underway at the famed Huntington Beach Pier in California on September 14. The event is the culmination of five regional qualifiers and will see the nation's best surf shop teams vie for a $10,000 prize purse and most importantly a year's worth of bragging rights.
The Oakley Surf Shop Challenge fueled by Muscle Milk has been around the country and back, starting at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, back in May. From there, the series headed to 54th Street in Newport Beach, California, and then to the Kewalo Basin on Hawaii's South Shore, before returning to the Mainland for the Northwest event at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California. The final regional qualifier wrapped up in August at New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
"We are excited for the finals," says Liam Barrett, Oakley Sports Marketing Events Manager. "With $10, 000 on the line, the friendly rivalry turns less cordial. Along with strong surfing from the shop employees, team strategy will be key."
This year's defending National Champions are San Diego's Surf Ride, comprised of team members Chris Abad, Brent Reilly, Che Stang, and Aaron Coyle. At the regional event at Newport Beach back in early-June, Surf Ride found their way to the Finals, and after scoring a 9.34 whammy-wave, the reigning Southwest Champions earned themselves not only Southern California bragging rights, but also a renewed lease on their campaign to defend their title.
Huntington Beach is bound to be a bloody battle ground with SurfRide on the defensive hoping to maintain their National Champion stature, and a roster full of repeat title-holders looking for redemption. In fact, all but one of this year's National Title contenders have made it to, if not won, a previous Surf Shop Challenge National Championship. Freeline Design, the brave freshman in this year's line-up, upset Team O'Neill's attempt for a third consecutive victory in the Central/Northwest contest.
"We already took down Team O'Neill the Nor Cal giants so the pressure is off going into the championships," says Freeline Design's Peter Mel. "We're just looking to have fun in Huntington and do our best to give these big shots a run for their money, but ultimately we'll be stoked with any result. It's been an awesome experience and we feel privileged to be surfing against such amazing talent. Never know, we could be the giant killers?"
Regional winners not only won an expense-paid trip to the National Championship for the opportunity to win the $10,000 grand prize, but each also received a full-page shop profile in SURFER Magazine, a Muscle Milk fridge and supply of Muscle Milk, a set of 59 custom New Era hats designed by the winning shops, VIP treatment at the 2009 SURFER Poll and Video Awards, and product from all sponsors.
2009 Regional Champs:
Heritage Surf Shop representing the Northeast
Andrew Gesler, John Barrie, Zach Humphreys and Brian Heritage.
SurfRide representing the Southwest
Chris Abad, Aaron Coyle, Gabe Garcia, and Brent Reilly.
Town & Country representing Hawaii
Gareth Sugihara, Travis Hashimoto, Dustin Cuizon, and Geoff Wong.
Freeline Design representing the Central/Northwest
Peter Mel, John Mel, Anthony Dunn, and Bud Freitas.
Sunrise Surf Shop representing the Southeast
Dane Jefferies, Garrett Carmichael, Asher Nolan, and Ryan Briggs.
Each of these shops represent the best in their region, but only one will earn the right to call themselves the most core shop in the nation and take home the $10,000 grand prize.