Blazing sunshine, light winds, and great surf blessed the second European Oakley Surf Shop Challenge, as a busy holiday weekend crowd lined the famous Anglet sands to watch incredible surfing from the finest surf retailers on the Continent.
Basque Country surf shop Pukas’ strong team of Eneko Acero, Mario Azura, Ander Mendiguren and Jamie Aspiroz won themselves an all expenses paid trip to California for being the outstanding performers throughout the event, as well as an assortment of Oakley goodies. As a clean, powerful groundswell produced great conditions on Saturday afternoon and all through Sunday, culminating in quality 4-6ft surf for the final afternoon. The Basques held off stiff competition from local favourites Waimea of Anglet to claim a victory they’d been plotting ever since defeat in their own backyard of San Sebastian in last year’s inaugural event.
Fellow Spaniards Escuela Cantabria and Hawaii had merited their place in the final with strong performances throughout the rounds, but ultimately it was Pukas and particularly world tour veteran Eneko Acero who shone in the long lefthanders. Romain Lauhle of Waimea had rallied with an excellent 8 point ride for a series of backhand hacks and a progressive backside air reverse to gain the upper hand momentarily, but Pukas answered straight back through their star man Eneko Acero for 8.10 and never looked back.
The big shock in the semis had been the elimination of defending champions SB3 of Labenne, France, who were bumped out of an advancing position by a heroic last ditch effort from Pukas’ ‘double whammy’ surfer Acero. Meanwhile, in the other half of the draw, British battlers Surfing Life of Newquay also saw their good run come to and end. Featuring the only female surfer in the event, the Brits won support from the public for their embracing of the format.
The Oakley Surf Shop Challenge format involves 4 person teams consisting of two shop employees and two pros. Using a tag team format that scores one ride of each surfer, and involves crowd-pleasing beach sprint starts, fun and teamwork come to the fore – as well as great surfing. Oakley team rider and leading European pro surfer Romain Cloitre, on hand for the presentation, underlined the quality of surfing on display. “This year the guys really stepped up and put on an incredible display” said the Reunion Island ripper. “It’s really great to see teams from all across the Continent get involved and to see local crowd here get so into the event.”