You couldn't have picked a better day to kick off the 2010 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge at Seaside Reef. The morning's brisk easterly winds and clear skies set the stage for rest of the afternoon, which unfolded into a storybook spring day. The teams arrived with their beanies pulled down tight and jackets buttoned to the top to find glassy, 4- to 5-foot walls breaking along the reef in either direction. To make the scenario even more prodigious, a rising 4.6-foot tide helped improve conditions as the day went on—sets became an almost constant affair and waves breaking on the reef began connecting cleanly to the inside.
The event was enjoyable for the spectator and the competitor alike, with Sambazon on hand to dish out tasty Acai bowls, "Joes on the Nose" coffee wagon pouring fresh cups of joe, a Firewire board demo, and the Oakley Rolling O Lab showcasing Oakley's mad science and product development. Around midday came the afternoon cookout with burgers, dogs, and all the fixings one could ask for, compliments of Oakley. Had Ryan Simmons not been commentating on the heats and the surfers not been wearing jerseys, it would probably been hard to discern the competition from a weekend holiday BBQ.
Good times and camaraderie aside, the event boiled down to 12 teams going to battle for first place and the San Diego regional title, which would effectively secure their spot in the championships. This is the first year splitting up Southern California into two regions, San Diego and Orange County, giving San Diego teams a much greater chance at making the championships.
Going into the event, it was suspected that the three titans—Surfride (last year's Southwest Region Champs and the '08 National Champs), Hansen's (2007 Champs), and SunDiego (long-time runner-up)—would once again be the three in contention for the win.
The first round was broken into three nail-biting heats, but it was Team Hansen who were the standout performers from the start. With local pro Austin Ware as their whammy rider, Hansen raked in a near perfect whammy-score, adding to an already stacked heat total and earning themselves a spot in the final.
Throughout the day, it was a battle of smack-talking as much as it was a battle in the lineup. Last year's regional champs, Surfride, had a rocky start, almost being etched out by K5 and Hanger 94 in Round One, in the end, they secured their spot in the final alongside Hansen’s, Rail to Rail, K5 Boardshop, and SunDiego. "We didn't perform too well in the first heat," said Surfride's Chris Abad after his Round One heat, "but we just have to step it up and get right waves in the final."
As the Final heat hit the water, tension was high, with the five teams in contention eager to be crowned the best surf shop in San Diego. Early on, Surfride's Brent Riley and Che Stang blew up, making it look like it looked like they would go on to clench a third regional win. The talk of the final, though, was Shey Yates' one-footed, blow-tail layback that set the crowd ablaze in cheers. But unfortunately for K-5, their whammy-rider, Matt Yates, failed to whammy his final wave, leaving the team without the added scores need to combat an on-fire Team Hansen.
Hansen's roll continued through the Final, as Erik Snortum posted a massive 9.33, serving as a nice back-up for Austin Ware's 8.77 whammy-wave. SurfRide was hot in pursuit though and as the Final neared close, SurfRide's Aaron Coyle just needed to post a decent score in order to surpass Hansen's early lead. But Hansen's final surfer, Ryan Burch, answered back, managing to sneak into left and seal the deal for Team Hansen. "It's pretty cool to be able to come out and do something for your shop and represent it," said Hansen surf shop employee Jesse Wells. "It feels really good to win it; there's nothing better than that."
Hansen will join the six other regional qualifiers at the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge National Finals in Huntington in September.
1. Hansen’s (Eric Snortum, Jesse Wells, Austin Ware *, Ryan Burch)
2. Surfride (Brent Reilly *, Che Stang, Chris Abad, Aaron Coyle)
3. Rail to Rail (Darrell Goodrum, Byron Tohen, Erik McHenry *, Justin McBride)
4. Sun Diego (Sean Marceron *, Ricky Whitlock, Scott Hammon, Brian Guter)
5. K-5 Boardshops (Matt Yates *, Josh Sleigh, Shey Yates, Lucas Dalager)
(* Indicates whammy surfer)
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