For seven long years, one team, Sunrise, has reigned supreme in the battle for the best surf shop in the Southeast region. But Sunrise's dynasty came to a dramatic denouement on Tuesday at Paradise Park in Melbourne, Florida, when Quiet Flight showed up with former World Champion surfer CJ Hobgood leading their charge. Hobgood didn't disappoint, but Sunrise didn't go quietly, nor did the rest of the teams, making for an exciting day of competition.
In heat one, the big surprise was team Nomad with Baron Knowlton earning the biggest score of the first round, an 8.17 double whammy. The score gave him and his teammates the heat win over second-place Surf Station and the Quiet Flight squad, rounded out by Randy Nolan, Jeremy Johnston and shop manager Ian Newland.
Heat two saw the Sunrise team of the Thompson brother trio and long-time vet Garrett "G Rat" Carmichael, lay down the hammer with a 35.63 heat total and remind everyone why they have built such a dynasty in these events.
With only the four highest scoring teams out of nine moving on to the final, Quiet Flight was left on the bubble, which no one saw coming. It came down to Catalyst's young upstart and double whammy surfer Chauncey Robinson needing only a high six-point ride to knock out Hobgood and his crew. Fortunately for Quiet Flight, Chauncey fell short and they squeaked into the final.
With the contention building throughout the day, the final is where it got really ugly. Sunrise came out firing as usual and looked destined to make it eight titles in a row. About halfway through, Surf Station's former World Tour competitor and double whammy surfer, Gabe Kling, got tangled up with Sunrise's double whammy surfer Evan Thompson. Head judge Jeff Klugel deemed that Kling was “closest to the peak” and Sunrise was called for an interference, meaning the highest score of the final, Evan’s 8.17 would only count once. With the interference in the computer, the new leader became Nomad with Quiet Flight sitting in second. However, Hobgood's contest experience would serve him well and he thrived under the pressure. Needing a high four-point score, dealing with low tide conditions and time winding down, he was able to pull out a 5.43 for the win.
In the end, it was by far the most controversial and interesting Surf Shop Challenge Florida had ever seen.
1 – Quiet Flight (25.83)
2 – Nomad Surf Shop (23.90)
3 – Surf Surf Shop (23.71)
4 – Surf Station (17.43)