Oakley Surf Shop Challenge Southwest Regional
Surf Ride Repeats as Southwest Champions
By Zachary Keenan
On June 5, the second of five Regional Qualifiers for the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge fueled by Muscle Milk took place in the roping lefts running off of the legendary 56th St. Jetty in Newport Beach. The Southern California contingent saw overhead south-swell lines met by beautiful sunny skies, and the ideal stage for an exciting day of explosive surfing and the crowning of the Southwest Regional Champion.
Everyone was excited to be surfing in such a fun tag-team format, and with teams located side by side under the tent, there was no shortage of local rivalry, outlandish heckles, and personal opinions. The Froghouse, located a stone's throw from the event site, saw not only a stacked local squad, but also the most senior surfers in the event. As local legend and team rider Richie Collins stated, "We've got the oldest team here, and we are going to show these groms not to count out experience. We are going for the win!" Sun Diego's Sean Marceron was equally intent on winning. "We've gotten second here so many times now that we are going to do everything we can to finally take the Championship!"
As Heat One of the first round got underway, conditions were a little tricky as many waves were running a touch too fast. Critical wave selection and finding waves with a workable shoulder were the keys to posting solid scores. One of the most progressive surfers from the Newport area, SurfSide Sports' Josh Hoyer, was uncharacteristically a touch out of rhythm, unable to find quality waves off the bat--he stayed out almost to the half-way mark of the hour-long heat, putting pressure on his fellow team members to make up ground quick. Sun Diego's Sean Marceron was looking at a similar fate, but flipped the switch and found three solid scores within a few minutes. Unfortunately for some though, the double-whammy format wasn't always on their side. Dane Zaun, Spyder's whammy rider, came on strong with a first score of 7.0, but elected not to claim it, figuring he could get a better ride. But, after two closeouts and a failed air-reverse attempt, his chance to increase his team's total slipped away.
The second heat saw some unbelievable performances, as Laguna Surf & Sport's Jon Rose seamlessly linked combinations of backhand blasts to carves to post a 9.3 whammy wave, adding a huge point total to their score. Also impressive was Richie Collins, who surfed so well that Froghouse opted to give him the whammy opportunity in the Final. The nail-biter, though, had to be for defending Regional and National Champion SurfRide, who seemed to struggle to solidify a worthy whammy wave. But the shop employees carried their weight and pulled together enough points to earn their team a slot in the Final.
As the Final got started, SurfRide came out of the gates firing, with Brent Reilly blasting two huge speed snaps to earn a 9.34 whammy-wave and set the pace. Not to be outdone by the groms, Froghouse's Richie Collins answered back with two massive turns on a bomb and was rewarded with a 9.4 whammy-wave, the highest score of the event. Ricky Whitlock and Sean Marceron from Sun Diego each had decent efforts, but struggled to find that one exceptional wave score. Huntington Surf & Sport's Micah Byrne was unable to match the explosive form he found in the first round, leaving them stuck with a low whammy score. Laguna Surf & Sport's Jon Rose stuck to his guns, electing not to whammy a solid 7.0, then luckily coming through with an impressive 7.15 whammy-score. "I knew they had both doubled 9s already, so the only way to keep it close was to do the same. We were going for the win!" said Rose. "But, unfortunately, it didn't happen."
As the Final point totals for the surf shop teams were tallied, the overall performance of the Defending Champions, Surf Ride, was enough for them to repeat as the Southwest Regional Champions, giving them another opportunity to defend their National Title in Huntington Beach come September.
Shop employee Chris Abad broke down their key to victory. "With Brent's huge whammy score and Che Stang surfing well enough to earn the FCS Award for Functional Creative Surfing, Aaron Coyle and I knew we just had to keep our consistency in order to maintain the lead they had already established. So stoked! Looking forward to September and our chance to repeat as National Champs!"
1. Surf Ride - 52.6 (team: Chris Abad, Aaron Coyle, Che Stang, Brent Reilly)
2. Frog House - 43.9 (team: Big Red, Greg De La Cruz, Richie Collins, David Giddings)
3. Sun Diego - 32.5 (team: Bryan Guter, Eric Owens, Ricky Whitlock, Sean Marceron)
4. Laguna Surf and Sport - 32.1 (team: Jason Watson, Ryah Arthur, Jon Rose, Mike Morrissey)
5. Huntington Surf and Sport - 29.4 (team: Bryan Van Arsdale, Christian Saenz, Micah Byrne, Andrew Doheny)
FCS award for Functional Creative Surfing: Che Stang from Surf Ride