SAN CLEMENTE, Calif., April 23, 2013 - This year's Oakley Surf Shop Challenge Northwest regional qualifier at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, California, had all the ingredients for a day of exciting competitive surfing; talented surf shop team riders and employees from Pacifica to Santa Barbara, an iconic righthand pointbreak, a unique and challenging team format, and beautiful springtime conditions. The only missing ingredient was the swell, which was unfortunately fairly weak, with lulled out, tide-sensitive conditions that varied in the one-to-two-foot range.
Despite the somewhat meager surf, Contest Director Darren Brilhart proceeded with the contest. The Oakley Surf Shop Challenge contests take an alternative spin on competitive surfing. Invited surf shops are able to choose four surfers per team, consisting of two professional surf shop riders and two surf shop employees. These teams must work together in a 60-minute, rotational tag-team showdown, sending out one rider at a time, among them one predetermined "whammy" surfer, who has the option of raising their hands at the end of their ride, doubling the total of that wave's score. With only a three-wave maximum allowed per surfer, this "whammy" surfer can make or break a team's chance of winning, and when there aren't many contestable waves, one ride can make the difference between sweet victory and bitter defeat.
Take for example, in the pre-lims, Team Freeline Design's Peter Mel caught a miracle runner during a wave-starved heat's final moments, tearing it apart to the tune of a 7.6. Unfortunately, "whammy" surfers are predetermined, and Freeline had chosen teenage phenom Nic H'Dez for his lithe frame and small wave prowess, who earlier was only able to come up with a 2.0 to whammy, thus ending Freeline's chance at the trip to Bali.
As usual, the Santa Cruz teams dominated the field, sending three local teams into the Final (O'Neill Surf Shop, Pacific Wave and Arrow). The underdogs were Santa Barbara's Channel Islands Surf Shop, and basically everything went their way during the 60-minute Final.
At first it looked like the locals would retain their dominance with O'Neill's Shaun Burns picking off a smooth 5.5, but Channel Islands answered back with a clutch performance by whammy surfer Killian Garland who proudly claimed his 8.83 score with a series of fin releases and smooth cutbacks. Along with Garland's final winning performance, Channel Islands was backed up with a strong performance by young Pat Curren, who grew up surfing Rincon, another world class righthand pointbreak.
Garland was humble regarding his victory yet stoked to be a non-local team stealing the win from the long S.C. dominated event. "For sure, I was super stoked to get that wave and it's rad being able to win as the level of talent in Santa Cruz is always so high. Those guys rip".
Along with a free plane ticket to Bali and spending money, Channel Islands Surf Shop will combat six other regional qualifiers for $10,000 in the Championship event, held in June at Keramas. Next up, the series stops at the Ala Moana Bowls on May 10 for the Hawaii regional qualifier and the last qualifier will hit Newport Beach, California at the end of May.
Special thanks to Oakley, SURFER Magazine and other event partners, Bubble Gum Surf Wax, Futures Fins, New Era, SOL REPUBLIC, and Watermans Sunscreen for their support, without which the Surf Shop Challenge series would not be possible.
- Channel Islands Surf Shop (33.23 pts)
- O'Neill Surf Shop (18.6 pts)
- Arrow Surf Shop (8.93 pts)
- Pacific Wave (5.97 pts)
2013 OSSC and OHSSTC Schedule:
- April 5 - Southwest - Seaside Reef, Cardiff, Calif.*
- April 9 - Southeast - Ponce Inlet, Fla.
- April 13 - Mid-Atlantic - Kitty Hawk or Nags Head, Outer Banks, NC
- April 16 - Northeast - Manasquan Inlet, Manasquan, NJ
- April 19 - Northwest - Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, Calif.
- May 10 - Hawaii - Ala Moana Bowls, South Shore, Haw.
- May 31-June 1 - West - 54th/56th Street - Newport Beach, Calif.*
- June 17-22 - National Championship - Keramas/Canggu, Bali, Indo.
*Denotes Oakley High School Surf Team Challenge stops