The Southwest Regional Qualifier for the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge fueled by Muscle Milk took place in the roping lefts running off of the legendary 56th Street Jetty in Newport Beach, California. Southern California’s core surf shop retailers journeyed to the heart of the surf industry for an exciting day of explosive surfing and the crowning of the Southwest Regional Champion.

The competitors enjoyed the tag-team format, and with teams located side-byside under the tent, there was no shortage of local rivalry and outlandish heckles from the dugout. The Frog House, located a stone’s throw from the event site, saw not only a stacked local squad, but also the most senior surfers in the event.

As local legend and team rider Richie Collins stated, "We’ve got the oldest team here, and we are going to show these groms not to count out experience. We are going for the win! Sun Diego’s Sean Marceron was equally intent on winning: “We’ve gotten second here so many times now that we are going to do everything we can to finally take the Championship!”

Wave selection was critical in the first round; finding the waves with a workable shoulder was the key to posting solid scores. Newport local and Surf Side Sports team rider Josh Hoyer was uncharacteristically out of rhythm, as was Spyder’s Dane Zaun who failed to whammy his first wave, a 7.0, and could not find another worthy score. Sun Diego’s Sean Marceron was looking at a similar fate, but flipped the switch and found three solid scores within a couple minutes time.

The second heat saw some unbelievable performances, as Laguna Surf & Sport’s Jon Rose seamlessly linked combinations of backhand blasts to carves to post a 9.3 whammy wave, adding a huge point total to their score. Also impressive was Richie Collins, who surfed so well that Frog House opted to give him the whammy opportunity in the Final. The nail-biter, though, had to be for defending Regional and National Champion SurfRide, who seemed to struggle to solidify a worthy whammy-wave. But the shop employees, Aaron Coyle and Chris Abad, carried their weight and pulled together enough 7-point scores to earn their team a slot in the Final.

As the Final got started, SurfRide came out of the gates firing, with Brent Reilly blasting two huge speed snaps to earn a 9.34 whammy-wave and set the pace. Not to be outdone by the groms, Frog House’s Richie Collins answered back with two massive turns on a bomb and was rewarded with a 9.4 whammy-wave, the highest score of the event. Ricky Whitlock and Sean Marceron from Sun Diego each had decent efforts, but struggled to find that one exceptional wave score. Huntington Surf and Sport’s Micah Byrne was unable to match the explosive form he found in the first round, leaving them stuck with a low whammy score. Laguna Surf & Sport’s Jon Rose stuck to his guns, electing not to whammy a solid 7.0, then luckily coming through with an impressive 7.15 whammy-score. “I knew they had both doubled 9s already, so the only way to keep it close was to do the same. We were going for the win!” said Rose. “But, unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
As the Final point totals for the surf shop teams were tallied, the overall performance of the defending champions, SurfRide, was enough for them to repeat as the Southwest Regional Champions, giving them another opportunity to defend their National Title in Huntington Beach come September.

SurfRide shop employee Chris Abad broke down their key to victory. With Brent’s huge whammy score and Che Stang surfing well enough to earn the FCS Award for Functional Creative Surfing, Aaron Coyle and I knew we just had to keep our consistency in order to maintain the lead they had already established. So stoked! Looking forward to September and our chance to repeat as National Champs!"

Final Standings:
1. SurfRide – 52.6 (team: Chris Abad, Aaron Coyle, Che Stang, Brent Reilly)
2. Frog House – 43.9 (team: Big Red, Greg De La Cruz, Richie Collins, David Giddings)
3. Sun Diego – 32.5 (team: Bryan Guter, Eric Owens, Ricky Whitlock, Sean Marceron)
4. Laguna Surf & Sport – 32.1 (team: Jason Watson, Ryah Arthur, Jon Rose, Mike Morrissey)
5. Huntington Surf and Sport – 29.4 (team: Bryan Van Arsdale, Christian Saenz, Micah Byrne, Andrew Doheny)

About Surf Shop Challenge:

Originally conceived to provide a fun and competitive format for the hardcore surf shop riders, the SURFER Shop Team Challenge was one of the most popular and exciting Southern California contests of the early 1980s. 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. Each year the competition level rises, the stakes become greater and the prizes become bigger.

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.

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.

For photos, video footage, results and more check out