The surf shop is not dead. Since 2009, the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge has celebrated the surf shop — our meeting place, town hall, supply warehouse, and gossip corner — by putting the best shops from the corners of the U.S. against each other in a year-end showdown, with Sunrise taking its fifth national title in 2017. The winnings have changed over the years, though one prize has carried on since the contest’s inception, and it might be the most valuable: the bragging rights as the country’s best surf shop.

But even the pride is secondary. Because, reality is, you’ll never be more proud of a surf shop than the one that’s around the corner, or the one that has a straight-on view of your nearest break when it’s head-high and glassy. The most helpful surf shop employee is the one who helps you sift through the rack for your next Magic Stick. They’ll be the one who throws in free ding repair and a bar of wax with your purchase, because they can’t believe that out-of-towner dropped in on you and buckled your board. The country’s best surf shop is your surf shop.

At a time when brick-and-mortar stores are beamed up to The Cloud every day, there’s never been a more important time to invest in the physical, grassroots shops that guide our local surf communities. And that’s the common mission that the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge rallies around, year after year.

The 2017 event had a compelling storyline for every stop. Here’s a breakdown of how each regional event shook out before the seven winning teams traveled to Nicaragua for the National Championships.

Southwest (Sun Diego Surf Shop):

San Diego County's best surf shops converged at Seaside Reef to compete in the first stop of the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge. The event kicked off in pumping surf with 12 teams set to battle it out for the title of the 2017 Southwest Champions. Sun Diego Boardshop's Mission Beach team narrowly edged out defending champions Surf Ride of Oceanside, 33.78 to 31.87, to take the title.

Southeast (Sunrise Surf Shop):

Florida's best surf shops traveled to Paradise Beach Park in Melbourne Beach, Florida to compete in the second stop of the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge. The Southeast Regional Qualifier kicked off the East Coast leg of the series in exciting fashion with Sunrise Surf Shop claiming their ninth Southeast title over last year's champions, Quiet Flight.

Northeast (7th Street Surf Shop):

Eight teams from the Northeast Region showed up to duke it out in challenging knee-high conditions for 2017 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge at 16th Ave in Belmar, NJ, with 7th Street taking the win.

Northwest (Pacific Wave):

Nine teams from Northern California gathered at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz for the fourth stop of the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge. Teams were fired up and ready to dethrone defending champions Pacific Wave in glassy two-to-three-foot surf and light rain, but Pacific Wave had other plans, dominating the final and claiming the three-peat Northwest victory.

West (Huntington Surf and Sport):

Huntington Surf and Sport (HSS) claimed its second back-to-back West regional victory at stop No. 5 of the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge. Some of the best surf shops from around Orange County and Los Angeles competed in the three-to-five-foot conditions for the title and the golden ticket into the National Championships in Nicaragua.

Hawaii (T&C):

Eight teams battled in waist-to chest-high Ala Moana Bowls on the South Shore of Oahu for the sixth stop of the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge. After an eventful day at Bowls, T&C defended their Hawaii title.

Mid-Atlantic (Sweetwater):

On a hot and humid summer day on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, eight surf shop teams traveled to Jennette's Pier in Nags Head for the second attempt to run the Mid-Atlantic Oakley Surf Shop Challenge. The Mid-Atlantic event was rescheduled back in April due to lack of swell, but a three-to-four- foot fading ESE swell from tropical storm Gert proved to be promising the second time around.

Sweetwater was the last team to book their ticket to Nationals, joining Sun Diego Surf Shop (SW), Sunrise Surf Shop (SE), 7th Street Surf Shop (NE), Pacific Wave (NW), Huntington Surf and Sport (W) and T&C (HI).

National Championship:

Seven Regional Champion surf shop teams from around the U.S. traveled to Nicaragua to compete in the 2017 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge National Championships on Thursday, October 26th. Four- to six-foot surf welcomed competitors at Playa Colorado, where Sunrise Surf Shop became five-time National Champions.

Behind The Scenes: