By: Patrick Ruddy
Monday, August 11, Oakley hosted the annual one-day Surf Shop Challenge at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, which I had the opportunity to shoot. This year, there were a few changes to the format which made for an exciting challenge: only 150 waves could be ridden; each team would be split into two heats of five; and the top five teams would go to the final.
Upon arriving for the 8 p.m. start, I heard a spectator call out, "Don't take the opening wave… at least we don't think you should," to Sunrise surfer Tristan Thompson, who was holding position in the water, awaiting the start of heat one. The horn finally sounded and the rumbling from the pool began as the first wave was pumped out. Tristan snagged it and began barreling across the man-made sand bar. The competition had begun, and I knew we were in for something special.
Heat one set the pace for the rest of the day with the top three teams (Rip Curl, IWS & Sunrise) standing out as clear front-runners to win the event.
However, watching the finals which was like watching a roller coster of lead changes as each shop battled to hold the top points. Red Dog opened strongly with Noah Schweizer achieving a mid-range 7 on his second wave. But without the help from double whammy surfer, Eric Gesielman, the team, unfortunately, fell short.
This was also the case for Surf Station who changed out their double whammy surfer from Dustin Richardson to hometown hero Gabe Kling. In heat one, Gabe dropped an 8.03, but was unable to match that result in the final.
Rip Curl seemed to have a strong campaign throughout the event, but due to some unfortunate breaks and an early double whammy claim from Jeremy Johnston, the team ended their night in the third place position.
The real battle came when Tanner Strohmenger from IWS upped his score by two points, totalling 6.67. This put the pressure back on the Sunrise, and more importantly, Dane Jeffery. Dane needed a 4.12 to take the lead and give Sunrise the win, and with that in mind, Dane ultimately delivered. Sunrise is once again your Oakley Surf Shop Challenge champ's for 2014!
This is what the team had to say about their strategy & the pool: "The pool defiantly added some nerves in the beginning, but we evenly got used to it and got the chain saw effect going. Also, it's important to have the shop guys on a good wave, and out here tonight we didn't have to worry about that, so the pool defiantly made for an even playing field. Special thanks to Oakley for putting this event on, we won it now nine times and we could be more thankful for support of everyone!"