SAN CLEMENTE, CA (October 20, 2014) —The 2014 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge finished in perfect fashion at the National Championships at Mark and Dave’s in Nicaragua. Seven teams from seven corners of the country earned their expense-paid trip to Playa Colorado by winning their regional events, and were given the shot to compete for the 2014 trophy and bragging rights as the best surf shop in the land.
The day of the contest saw clean and tropical head-high A-frames scattered across the Nicaraguan sandbars, proving to be a perfect arena for the shop employees and team riders in attendance. The format consisted of two semifinal heats, with the top four teams advancing to the final, in a “whammy” style event, giving each team’s top rider the chance to double their score with a claim.The Oakley Surf Shop Challenge has a vaunted history, and since 1983 SURFER has been fielding the event for the surf shops and their employees that create the core of the surf industry. Only in recent years have the finals been held in exotic locales, giving these shops the excuse to skip work for a week and head abroad to Bali in 2012 and 2013, and now Nicaragua here in 2014.
In dominant form, the boys out of Sunrise Surf Shop in Jacksonville, Florida, took the title for the second year in a row. Dane Jefferys, Ryan Briggs, and brothers Tristan and Evan Thompson won both the semifinal and final heats, relying on a dialed strategy of solid scores from the shop guys combined with whammied double-scores in the excellent range from their ringer Evan Thompson. Evan Thompson rode two waves the entire event, and both were 9s. The strategy worked.
The victors carried their fourth team rider from the waves to the podium, where they collected their trophy and doused each other in cheap champagne and cold Toñas. The celebration overflowed into the beachside infinity pool, where the Sunrise crew reflected on their win. “We came down here a week early, decided to get some sessions in, figured with all these offshore winds we’d have a good time,” said Evan Thompson. “We brought a bunch of boards down, and have been giving each other great feedback. It helped us a lot.”
Sunrise took an unconventional path to their National Championship, having been the only competitor to win their regional event in a wave pool. “Coming from a wave pool was definitely different, but it was for sure a challenge in itself,” added Thompson. “We proved to ourselves that we can win in any kind of conditions.” Every Florida surfer seems to surf with a chip on their shoulder, wanting to prove that the state’s surfers can hold their own in any lineup the world over. These four are no exception.
An added storyline to the event surfaced from the two Thompsons, whose older brother Trey was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. The Sunrise team had #winitfortrey emblazoned across their boards, and having now won it for Trey, were ecstatic they could support getting him healthy and back into the lineup.
“We’re rallying to donate money to Trey’s cause, and this win will do a lot to generate support,” said Tristan Thompson. Other competitors have already pitched in to the cause, and Oakley matched donations and gave $2,500 toward covering his treatment expenses. It was an emotional announcement, and was perfectly indicative of the family dynamic this OSSC series tries to foster between surf shops, surf brands, and their employees. Visit https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/9fx5/save-trey-bonez-brain to learn more about Trey’s story and to donate.
So now they’ll head back from resort living at Mark and Dave’s in Nicaragua to Florida, invoice the sponsors for the baggage fees associated with their giant OSSC trophy, and look forward to celebrating with the locals back home. “It’s gonna be a big party,” said Dane Jefferys. “Last year was a big party, but this year…we’re going bigger. We love the support we get from our surf shop and town, and that we get to bring them back this trophy. We’re also so stoked on Oakley and SURFER Magazine for making this all happen. We need to bring it back to the core of the surf industry, it’s the guys in the surf shops that are really pushing surf brands. We’re stoked SURFER and Oakley recognize that, and we want to see this contest keep going for years.”
OSSC National Championship Results:
1. Sunrise Surf Shop 39.61 points
2. Sweetwater Surf Shop 28.82 points
3. Surf Ride 25.04 points
4. T & C Surf Designs 22.50 points