Sweetwater surf shop heads to Bali to compete in Oakley Surf Shop Challenge

Sweetwater, from left to right: Michael Powell, Knox Harris, Conner Lester, Michael Casper

Sweetwater, from left to right: Michael Powell, Knox Harris, Conner Lester, Michael Casper; photo courtesy of Oakley

You live to surf, you work at a surf shop, your team competes in a regional shop team challenge, and your team wins. What does it all mean? It means that as a finalist of Surfer magazine's Oakley Surf Shop Challenge, you've won an expense-paid, trip-of-a-lifetime to Bali.

The Oakley Surf Shop Challenge pits four-man teams (two surf shop pros and two shop employees) against each other for a chance to win $10,000, an advertising spread in Surfer magazine, and the title of best surf shop in the country. The seven shops who made it to the finals in Bali this year are Surf Ride (Southwest champs), Sunrise (Southeast champs), Sweetwater (Mid-Atlantic champs), 7th Street (Northeast champs), Channel Islands (Northwest champs), HIC (Hawaii champs), and Revolution (West champs).

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Before these teams boarded their planes and headed for surf paradise, we took the opportunity to glean from them some locals-only knowledge about their shops' home towns. Lucky for us (and you) they obliged. Next up is Jason Baysden and Benny B from Sweetwater Surf Shop in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. (For info from the Southeast champs, click here.)

And one last thing: Good luck to the finalists—you're all winners in our book—and you can follow the contest here: surfshopchallenge.com.

Jason Braysden and Benny B of Sweetwater; photo courtesy of Sweetwater

Jason Baysden and Benny B of Sweetwater; photo courtesy of Sweetwater

Where is the best place to grab a coffee, to lunch, and most important, to surf?
Sweetwater: Best coffee: Cafe Del Mar. Best lunch: Tower 7. Best surf: Out in front of the shop (when the surf is good).

Tell us about the local trends. What are the top three brands in your shop, trends in your town, and places to be seen?
Sweetwater: Brands in the shop: Billabong, RVCA, Hurley. Trends in town: Tank tops and cutoffs. Places to be seen: The (John Nesbitt) Loop, The pole at Mercer’s Pier, and Blue Water Dance Floor (Sunday afternoon).

Surf lore: share with us a story about your town. It can be fact or fiction, but it has to be relatively well-known by local standards.
Sweetwater: The year was somewhere between ’85 to ’87. Tom Carrol and Mark Occhilupo came to town. Occy surfed for over an hour by himself at the south end and lit it up for all the locals watching. To my knowledge, it was the first taste of surfing of that caliber here.