San Juan Capistrano, CA (Aug. 4, 2009) – Territory and turf is the way of life in Santa Cruz and throughout Northern California, making the fourth stop of the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge fueled by Muscle Milk one of the most competitive in the series. With both bragging rights and a veritable fortune of loot up for grabs, the teams were prepared for an all-out war
Conditions at Steamer Lane were tricky, however, requiring not only skill and bravado, but also patience on the part of competitors. Due to the contestable but inconsistent surf and the desire to give all of the teams a fair shake, contest directors opted to hold off the start all first round heats until the arrival of a rideable wave in the lineup—for some heats this added nearly 20 minutes to the one-hour heats. The additional downtime for those on the beach forced competitors to find other outlets for their competitive energies. For the likes of team O'Neill's Jason "Ratboy" Collins and Noi Kaulukukui, that meant posting up next to the announcers to offer their own comical play-by-play. "He went left!? Does someone want to tell this guy it's a right pointbreak!?"
Unfortunately for all of the rivaling teams, O'Neill was more than able to back up their beach antics once they hit water. If all the heckling hadn't ruffled their feathers, Noi's double whammy of a perfect 10—that earned him the FCS Award for Functional Creative Surfing—certainly did.
Adam Replogle of Team Billabong countered by ripping apart a peaky insider in a traditional display of honed skill and silk-smooth style, which laid the foundation for the team to earn the second highest score of the first round, sending them straight to the Final.
With impressive performances from all members, especially shop employees Brad Fox and Matt Schrodetz, Team O'Neill made a big push for a third regional victory, but in the end it was Team Freeline that peeled the Regional Championship title from bare-knuckled grasp of Team O'Neill.
It was truly a family affair for Freeline, with a team consisting of Pete Mel, his two sons, John Mel and Anthony Dunn, and the latest potential Mel family adoption candidate, Bud Freitas. The foursome has participated in the Surf Shop Challenge for the past four years running; coming out each year looking to promote their shop and have a good time. “It feels incredible to take our first Regional Surf Shop Challenge Title," says Pete. "We have great team solidarity and have stayed together each year we’ve competed. Both my sons Anthony(17) and John(9) were a huge part of our success this year, but the difference came down to our double whammy surfer, Bud Freitas, who posted solid scores in the semi and final. All in all, it was a team effort and I believe we all played a roll in the win."
Winning this event, Freeline secured themselves a chance to compete for the $10,000 grand prize at the National Championships in Huntington Beach come September, where they'll face Heritage Surf & Sport form the Northeast, SurfRide from the Southwest, and T& C from Hawaii. "We can’t wait for the National Championships next month," exclaims Pete. "We're in it to win it!”
1. Freeline Design: Peter Mel, John Mel, Anthony Dunn, Bud Freitas; 29.1
2. O'Neill Surf Shop: Ratboy, Noi Kaulukukui, Brad Fox, Matt Shrodetz; 24
3. Arrow Surf & Sport: John Wilson, Tyler Morrish, Shaun Burns, Andrew Rivas; 17.63
4. Billabong: Adam Replogle, Dane Nable, Nic Hernandez, Brandon Barnes; 18.23
FCS award for Functional Creative Surfing: Noi, O'Neill
Congratulations to all the teams for making the Central/Northwest stop of the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge a great event and good luck to Team Freeline at the National Championships.