Some answers with 3-time Grudge Match champ, Sam Hammer
I went to the Grudge Match once. Once. I arrived with three boards and huge expectations — I woke up in my truck with borderline alcohol poisoning and a punctured bum from a waist-high wave. No shit. Eight years running, that's what this Jersey born-and-bred specialty comp is all about: punishment, plain and simple. In 2009, it came with a cold wind, and later, a giant hangover for everyone – including the event's new and only three-time winner. We woke Grudge Match king Sam Hammer from his losing battle with Don Patron, shortly after 1:30 pm. – Matt Walker
You're really still laying in bed right now?
Yeah. Yeah. Uh, yeah. I'm feeling pretty bad. I think we finished up around 3. I think. You know what it is? You're so dehydrated from the full day, and then you go drink. So it's not, uh, not good.
Yeah, that's it: dehydration. So, we got to the end of the ordeal, how'd it start?
It was overhead in the morning, probably chest to head all day. It dropped pretty quick. But it was barreling. It was more of a performance wave – so the surfing was good – but I don't think the waves were as good as last year.
The final was sick. You got a 9.8 and a 9.5. Andrew Gesler got a 7 and a 10. How was that 10?
I don't know. I split it. I went right and got a 9.8. I did a turn, then got barreled, then another turn. He just got kegged. The thing was setting up perfect. But he had priority.
Gotta tell you: I was sort of rooting for Gesler.
Well, just to keep it interesting. Besides how many times can you win this thing?
I'm gonna win it as many times as I can. But I hear ya. A lot of people were rooting for him. And I'd throw his name in there, for sure. Actually, if you ask me, Gleason was the one who was standing out.. And he had the toughest road of anybody. He had Frankie [Walsh] first heat. He took down Dean [Randazzo]. His semi with Gesler was really close, too. But you gotta keep these dudes down, ya know?
So you've won it three times. But you've made the final before a bunch. How many finals does this make?
Out of eight years. So these days, do you hang the belts over your shoulders pro-wrestler style and start taunting the guys?
No, it's pretty quiet. Ever since Dean started talking crap early one year and went down first round, everyone shut their mouths. Nobody wants to jinx themselves.
You got nothing to lose now. Break the jinx: talk shit on someone for next year right now.
I can't. My brain's not working. The only person I'm talking shit on right now is Don Patron.