The fourth qualifying event of the Quiksilver Surf Shop Challenge took place August 11th at Manasquan Inlet in New Jersey. After having the event postponed from its original date in late June due to flat surf the organizers quickly spread word throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic shops that the event was on for Wednesday morning.
At first light three surfers could be seen warming up in the small SE wind swells. On land Charlie Blunda, the former ESA district head, worked diligently in setting up the tents and P.A. system as local shop entrepreneur and contestant Mike Brown stood with his daughter watching
the lackluster surf in hopes of seeing at least one wave that would entice him to take a pre-contest warm up surf. That wave never came.
Round One was more of a contest as to “who can hop the farthest” in the high tide gutless dribblers. Missing were not only two of the registered 14 shop teams, but also the notorious hollow barrels that Manasquan Inlet is notorious for.
Fresh from winning a gold medal at the X-Games in California was former world touring pro Wes Laine who helped guide his WRV team to a 30 point margin in Round One over the other 11 teams. Coincidently, it was 20 years earlier that the lanky Virginian took the victory stand at the OP East (an ASP World Tour event) in nearby Atlantic City.
As the mid-day sun heated up so did a couple of tempers. In one heat two surfers did the paddle battle clash that ended in a few harsh words. In most contests an interference would have been called on one or both of the surfers but the judges looked at each other and said “Ah, fuget about it”.
Luckily, as the tide dropped the surf started to improve with legitimately contestable conditions. Inlet Outlet used their hometown advantage headed by Shane Pospisal and a young and stocky Nick Blunda in posting up valuable points. The feather weight performances by Heritage Surf Shop and ESA All Star Team Member Zach Humphries, Ocean Hut’s double whammy boy Jamie Wright and WRV’s airboy Jeff Myers threw in some impressive moves that got the crowd hootin’. Spellbinders Clay Polliani looked to have the magic board for the conditions as he sliced and diced his way through on a small fish. Hatteras Island Board Shop’s Mark Newton wacked a solid off-the-lip on his backhand while heading toward the jetty. Heritage’s John Barrie followed up with an equally sick backside reentry, but was outdone by Whalebones Mike “the Sperminator” Shirmier who floated then whacked the tar out of an on-coming section.
The Final Round came down to five shops--New Jersey’s Ocean Hut, Heritage and Faria’s along with North Carolina’s Whalebone and WRV. Faria’s Ben McBrien snapped consistently on the rights off the jetty followed up by teammate Randy Townsend who found the left more suitable to his frontside attack. Heritage’s Frank Walsh had the crowd cheering when he surfed brilliantly on the best wave of the event, slapping it five times before raising both his hands for the claim. WRV’s Justin Jones looked impressive on both his front and backhand, but it was their double whammy guy Jeff Myers that failed to claim his best wave in the final for the double score which would have tied them for first place with the consistent Whalebone Surf Shop. The nail in the coffin was Whalebone’s Pat McManus’, aka the Nag’s Head Jumping Bean, double claim to his high speed left on his self made board.
The contestants headed downtown to the local eatery, The Surf Taco, to chow down on some awesome Mexie grinds and the ceremony that awarded Team Whalebone as the champions of the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic division of the Quiksilver Surf Shop Challenge. So off to Boost Mobile Pro they go to battle it our for $10K with Laguna Surf & Sport, Quiet Flight, Revolution and a Hawaiian Shop TBA to see who will be the best Surf Shop in the U.S. As Pat McManus put it “just having the opportunity to surf Trestles with four other guys out is a reward of its own.”
1) Whalebone, NC
2) Wave Riding Vehicles, NC
3) Heritage, NJ
4) Faria’s, NJ
5) Ocean Hut, NJ