The best thing about a shop challenge is that you’re not only trying to push your individual limits, your also surfing for the pride of your team, bragging rights of your shop, and the people in your hometown. There’s definitely a lot more at stake than just three to the beach. That was evident in the energetic 3rd annual O’Neill Bragger’s Cup presented by Transworld Surf this past weekend on North Carolina’s Outerbanks. O’Neill rep David Shotton said it best when describing the strength of the surf shop on the East Coast “when you’re not surfing, you’re in the shop talking about surf”. You live breath and eat surf on the mid-Atlantic and as evident by the success of the O’Neill Bragger’s Cup, the surf shop is alive and well.
The night before the contest it was decided that a sacrifice was to take place to guarantee fun surf the following morning. The shop teams showed up in strength at the Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills for a ritual of cold beers and foosball donated by O’Neill. The teams hung out until the late hours of the night to make sure good waves would arrive the following day.
As the sun rose though, it looked like the sacrifice of everyone’s liver wasn’t enough as knee high waves lapped on shore. So a call was made to decide the fate of the 3rd annual O’Neill Bragger’s Cup at 10am. Shop teams hung on the beach and ate breakfast donated by The Front Porch and talked strategy. By 10am the surf increased to waist high and the shops declared the contest was on. As fate would have it, every round of surf jumped in size and the surfing progressed along with it; Travis Sutherland of the Wave Shack nailed a solid 180 f/s air in round two and his maneuver earned him Best Trick of the event.
The action really took off towards the quarterfinals when the surf continued to build to the shoulder high range and the pressure of having a respectable showing for your shop, team, and hometown was in the forefront of everyone’s mind. So then it was equally fair this year that the pressure shouldn’t just be on the shop employee or team rider; the addition of a new category called The Surf Shop Owner division added to the stress of the shop. The owners now had a chance to show everyone that at the core of a surf shop is a core owner. And standing atop the rubble after the shop owner final was Steve Pauls of the Pit Surf Shop. In addition to Steve ripping the final apart, his restaurant (also named The Pit) donated tacos for lunch (which had no bearing on the judges whatsoever…).
When the men’s and women’s finals hit later in the day, the surf was really firing. God must wear Superfreaks because at 8am the surf was flat and by finals at 2pm it was 6 foot. Airs and barrels weren’t the exception in the heats anymore, they were the norm. Katie Coryell of the Outerbanks Boarding Company made some late drops and won the women’s final with style. For the men’s final it was dog eat dog; the men’s individual title and the shop title were at stake and no one was backing down. The finals were stacked with up and comer Steve Owens, local legends Mike Schirmer and Lucas Rogers, and former world tour veteran Wes Laine. Wes decided to start off the heat by surfing the outer sandbars and weaving his way to the shore break, hitting the lip and round housing his way 4 or 5 times on each wave. Mike Schirmer even pulled a rabbit out of his hat and got a dry barrel with a couple minutes in the heat and looked to seal the deal. But with the solid surf and stress of placing well for your shop, there was only one guy that could handle it all… with under a minute left, Wes caught a bomb outside, weaved his way to the shore break, and got a barrel of his own. Game, set, match for Wes Laine, this year’s individual winner of the O’Neill Braggers Cup presented by Transworld Surf.
But this is a shop challenge of course and you’re only as good as your teammates. With the solid placings of Tiim Cole, Todd Pace, and of course Mike Schirmer, team Whalebone from Virginia Beach showed that besides having a great store, they also have a great team. Owner Jim Vaughn has had such greats as tour vet Todd Holland on his team and even current world traveler/O’Neill rider Jesse Hines, but the combination of Cole, Pace, and Schirmer was enough to deservedly bring the Cup to Whalebone. The 2′ high gold cup has a new home in 2004 and Whalebone will do whatever it takes to keep it after next year’s O’Neill Bragger’s Cup presented by Transworld Surf!
Shop Winner: Whalebone Virginia Beach
Men’s Winner: Wes Laine
Women’s Winner: Katie Coryell
Shop Owner Winner: Steve Pauls
Best Trick: Travis Sutherland
Two more events are on tap for this year. Here’s the details:Next up is the second event is the California stop and is going down in Huntington Beach on August 10th. Nothing like prime south swell season, summer beach crowds, and amping shop teams to make the beach a full blown scene.The third and final stop is happening at… Sebastian Inlet. Yes, one of the top two waves on the East Coast (and event stop #1 at the Outerbanks is the other of course…). Sebastian event date is October 23rd and they’re expecting an active hurricane season. Shops won’t miss this event for anything- there’s nothing like surfing good Sebastian with just 3 other surfers out.
At the core of the Bragger’s Cup surf shop challenge is the surf shop of course. So O’Neill and Transworld are stoked to be partnering with The Board Retailers Association who help keep the shops alive! “This is exactly the kind of grassroots event that the BRA is proud to be a part of”, says Mikke Pierson of the Board Retailers Association/ZJ’s Boardinghouse.
Entry gets you access to the pre-party the night before, event breakfast and lunch, Shop Challenge T, boatloads of promo, and good times, good times. If you think your shop’s got what it takes, don’t miss it!
For more information about the Surf Shop Challenge in your area, pics and video, please visit www.oneill.com. O’Neill is the world’s original surf brand. The family-owned and operated company distributes its products to 85 countries, including more than 2,000 specialty wetsuit and clothing retailers in the U.S. For media information contact Amanda Culver at (949) 428-2800