It was a one hot 'n sticky day down at the Inlet at New Smyrna Beach for the sixth of seven qualifying events for the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge presented by SURFER MAGAZINE. A consistent a 2 - 4 foot swell set the stage for the total of 10 Surf Shops and 40 contestants that were competing for this years southeast regionals. With 97 degree air temps and a 107 degree heat index you could just about throw a rack of ribs on your dashboard, paddle out and come back in for a feast - or so it seemed.
Round One started off with INLET CHARLIE's Devon Thresher thrashing his way down the line on a right hander that on this day was undoubtedly the best breaking wave on the Florida East Coast. The opening ride scored him a respectable 6.4 and set a benchmark for those to follow. Answering back was an impressive aerial display by MAUI NIX's Dustin Richardson who busted out a 7.67 for his impressive Air Reverse which he was quick to claim. It didn't take long before Quiet Flight's 2nd rider and local Smyrna top pro Jeremy Johnston to dial into a long lefty that earned him the heats highest score of 8.67 which he was sure to whammy. Inlet Charlie's final surfer, Taylor Brothers, made it perfectly clear though that he wasn't going to let his team down as he latched onto a walling left hander and catapulted his local surf shop to 1st place with his 8.17 double whammy score in this opening heat of the day.
Next out of the box for Round Two was reigning National Champions SUNRISE SURF SHOP and contenders, Red Dog, Surf Station, Salty Dog and Nomad Surf Shops. The 2X regional champs totally dominated the heat making it clear of their intentions of remaining on top of the heap with their highest total team score of 34.76 in Round One.
This tally was enforced by Asher Nolan's double whammy score of an 8.33. Red Dog Surf Shop secured 2nd place in this heat with a score high enough to earn them a slot in the finals against Sunrise, Inlet Charlie's, Quiet Flight and Maui Nix.
The tide began to fill in as the final one hour of competition was signaled. Sunrise's G-Rat opened with his high of 4.43. Red Dog's Noah Schwiezer bested him with a 4.97 then Inlet Charlie's Devon Tresher upped it with a 5.67 while Maui Nix could only squeeze out a 4.0 on their opening rides. Quiet Flight's Jeremy Johnston first three waves were nothing of substance but he was able to whammy a 6.5 on his final and 4th ride. As well all know, the double whammy guy is so crucial especially in the final if you expect to take the win.
Sunrise Surf Shop's Asher Nolan is quite aware of this and has come thru many times and this event was no exception. His opening ride was a respectable 6.93 but he chose not to claim it. The fast and furious goofy-footer then laid down some serious gauges on his 2nd ride where the judges awarded him a solid score of 8.5 which he doubled. Quiet Flight's former WCT Pro Bryan Hewitson then set the surf on fire as he schralped a sizable left earning him the events highest wave score of 9.5 and putting Team QF ahead. Sunrise's Ryan Briggs pulled in a 7.27 with several impressive backside shwacks but it wasn't until their final rider and surfshop employee Dane Jeffereys, needing a 5.1, secured a 6.33 and put the team back in the winners circle and on their way to the National Championships in Huntington Beach next month. In the ticking moments Quiet Flight's final rider Jon Cangenilla sat out back in hopes of finding a Hail Mary 9.1 that never arrived. The team was then penalized 5 points for Jon not making it back to the box in time but in this event 2nd, 3rd 4th or dead last does you no good. It's the win that means everything including the bragging rights of being the top surf shop in the region.
1st SUNRISE 35.03
2nd RED DOG 25.27
3rd QUIET FLIGHT 25.17
4th INLET CHARLIES 22.35
5th MAUI NIX 17.87