Team T & C Claims the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge at Kewalo Basin

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It’s a sure sign that the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge fueled by Muscle Milk has made its way to the Hawaiian Islands when the event’s lunch consists of two scoops rice, mochiko chicken, and a frigid can of guava juice. “Ono kind grinds, eh?” said one competitor. “Brah, if you no like your rice, I’m goin mop ’em.” Life in the islands… If the chopstick cuisine wasn’t enough to welcome the roaming event to Hawaii, the 2- to 3-foot aqua blue peaks standing on the reef at Kewalos were sure to get every surfer in the event frothed to the core.

From the outset, eight teams from around the islands converged at Kewalo Basin to do battle in the most unusual of formats. If you’re not up to snuff on the Surf Shop Challenge commandments and regulations, the rules governing the event state that each team consists of four members, one of which is a whammy surfer-typically the team’s best surfer-that can claim his best wave with a two-fisted hand pump and effectively double his score. With each team consisting of up to two team surfers and two shop employees competing in hour-long heats, the event feels much more like a backyard barbecue than your run-of-the-mill surf comp-and the surfers in the event will tell you that that’s exactly the way it should be.

“I’m just here to have fun. This aint no ‘QS contest or anything-it’s just a really fun event to be a part of,” said C.J. Kanuha, team surfer for the Big Island’s Pacific Vibrations. Kanuha nailed the vibe at the event right on the head. As opposed to other Surf Shop Challenge events in different parts of the country that consist of a touch of bad mouthing and mild bouts of debauchery, the event in Hawaii is much more laidback, with a number of contestants even napping between heats. But as soon as the jerseys were donned, the surfers in the event were there to win.

Standing out once again was two-time event champ Town and Country. This team, who’s begun to establish a Surf Shop Challenge dynasty within the Hawaiian leg of the series, was the favorite going into the event with Dustin Cuizon-you know, the guy who won just about everything at Nationals a few years back-surfing as the team’s whammy surfer. But that didn’t mean that the other teams were gonna go down without a fight.
Every team was ripping and at some points it was tough to distinguish who was a shop employee and who was the team rider. As the event moved toward a close however, it was clear that it would be another notch in the belt of Town & Country as the team surfed on a higher plane all the way through the Finals.

“You know, someone asked me if we had a strategy going into the contest this year, but I told him that we just do what we always do. Just surf. Not too much of a strategy at all, eh,” said Team Captain Gareth Sugihara with a laugh. “We’re super excited to win again…this event’s just so fun. There’s really nothing else like it around.”

If the event win wasn’t enough, team standout Dustin Cuizon would also go on to win the FCS award for most Functional Creative Surfing for his smooth-as-butter full-rotation frontside air. “The waves were pretty fun. I had a good time and I really like surfing in the event,” said Cuizon.

As Regional winners, Town and Country will meet other regional champions, Heritage Surf Shop from the North East and Surf Ride from the South West, in Huntington Beach on September 14 for the finals. When asked about his thoughts on heading to SoCal, T & C frontman Sugihara said, “The water’s gonna be a little colder there and it won’t be as blue, but we’ll be ready.”
Final Standings:
1. Town & Country – Gareth Sugihara, Travis Hashimoto, Dustin Cuizon, Geoff Wong; 50.24
2. Quiksilver Boardriders – Bennan Boudreaux, Derek Wong, Andy Morishita, Vince Brady; 41.6
3. Blue Hawaii Surf – Tory Brown, John Parks, Scott Saito, EJ Mitsui; 39.86
4. Pacific Vibrations – Michael McMichael, Makai McMichael, Levi Gonzales, CJ Kanuha; 34.49

FCS award for Functional Creative Surfing: Dustin Cuizon, Town & Country

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


Tess Weaver


July 14, 2009