San Juan Capistrano, CA (May 18, 2009) – In the early '80s the SURFER Surf Shop Challenge provided an opportunity for shop rats throughout Southern California to battle it out in the water until only one team, representing the most hardcore shop in the region, remained.

"SURFER started the Surf Shop Challenge to get the 'real' surfers out from behind the counters and into the surf," said SURFER Publisher, Rick Irons. "They are so competitive, and shop bragging rights are at stake, which means a lot to them."

Through the years the contest has evolved, with five qualifying regional events around the country, culminating in a national championship at the famed Huntington Beach Pier in sunny Southern California. The underlying principles, however, have remained the same. The Oakley Surf Shop Challenge fueled by Muscle Milk is still about giving back to the shops, the true backbone of the industry.

Oakley recognizes the role these shops play in the success of not only their brand, but of the action sports retail industry as a whole and believes in the importance of maintaining strong ties with them as the most elemental portal to the core consumer.

"Surf shops have always been one of the founding retail components to Oakley's success," says Liam Barratt, Oakley Events Manager. "We're proud to foster a healthy rivalry that already exists among surf shops and give back to the hardworking individuals on the floor."

2008 National Champions Surf Ride

2008 National Champions Surf Ride

Last year's National Champion and grand prize-winning team was San Diego's Surf Ride, comprised of Chris Abad, Brent Reilly, Che Stang and Aaron Coyle.The reigning Southwest Champions banded together to dominate their opponents with a calculated strategy that awarded them an oversized check worth a cool $10,000. They will be back again this year; will they be able to defend their title?

Regional winners this year will not only earn an expense-paid trip to the national championship for the opportunity to win the $10,000 grand prize, but each will also receive a full page shop profile in SURFER Magazine, a Muscle Milk fridge and supply of Muscle Milk, a set of 59 custom New Era hats designed by the winning shops, VIP treatment at the 2009 SURFER Poll and Video Awards, and product from all sponsors. Additionally, FCS has created the award for Functional Creative Surfing, awarding a travel prize package worth nearly $1,000 to the contestant who pulls off the best maneuver of the event.

The regional contests will begin in late May and run through early August. However, this year some of the venues have relocated. In the Southeast, the event has moved from Sebastian Inlet to New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Similarly, the contest in the Central Northwest has moved from Pleasure Point to Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California.

For photos, video footage, results and more check out http://www.surfshopchallenge.com/.

Special thanks to Oakley, Muscle Milk, and other event partners New Era, FCS, Gorilla Grip, SURFER Magazine, and WaveWatch for all their support. Without their involvement the Surf Shop Challenge series would not be what it is today.