ENCINITAS — At stake: bragging rights among the county’s surf shops, a full page ad in Surfer Magazine and an all expenses paid trip to South America to compete in the national championship.
On March 28, 17 teams from county surf shops will compete at Seaside Reef at about 8:30 a.m. for the 2014 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge. But what makes this competition so unique is that half of the four-man teams are surf shop employees.
Darren Brillhart, contest director, explained that the surf shops that carry Oakley products are invited to compete.
“And the teams consist of two of their pro athletes, most of these surf shops have team riders, and then two of their employees, that actually work on the floor,” he said. “And that’s the unique thing that adds to the event. You have the actual employees that work in the store competing for the shop.
A number of North County’s surf shops, including Hansen’s Surf Shop, Sun Diego, Wavelines, Surf Ride, and Mitch’s Surf Shop will be competing against other shops from Pacific Beach to La Jolla.
Oceanside’s Surf Ride team of Darrel Goodrum, Gabe Garcia, Brent Reilly and Aaron Coyle, took last year’s southwest division, and they look to repeat this year.
Brillhart said the surf forecast doesn’t look too bad at this point. A lot could change, he said, but there’s a forecasted swell that shows on the model a day before and he’s thinking they’re going to get residual swell.
Is the talent that comes out of the local surf shops surprising?
Yes, it actually is. I think with this series a lot of these shops are hiring employees that are good surfers. I think it puts a valid stamp on your shop, too, when you have employees that grew up in surfing and they’re really good surfers…I think that adds a lot of credibility to the stores in having these good surfers as far as employees go, and then having the pro surfers that they sponsor are some of the best in the world.
Is there a region in particular that seems to dominate the championship overall?
I would say Sweetwater (in Florida) would be one of the shops that have dominated. They’ve made the majority of the finals as far as winning their regional. And once they kick into the national championships, they’ve won the majority of those championships.
How about locally?
I would say Surf Ride in Oceanside. They’ve dominated this region in the southwest. They are the defending champions from last year as far as the regional championship…I’d say they are the favorites going into it.
What are some of the other surf shop teams worth keeping an eye out for?
As far as last year and the year’s prior, Hansen’s has done well. Pacific Drive entered a team for the first time last year and they made the finals.