SURFER Magazine is pleased to announce that the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge National Championship at Playa Colorado in Rivas, Nicaragua on September 11, 2019 has been won by Catalyst San Clemente of the West region. Catalyst secured the coveted title of America’s Most Core Surf Shop in a final heat against Sunrise Surf Shop (SE), Pacific Wave Surf Shop (NW), and the 2018 defending champions Surf Ride Oceanside (W).
Six teams earned an all-expense-paid journey to the world-class Central American surfing destination after winning their respective regional qualifier event. The 2019 championship at Mark & Dave’s Place at Playa Colorado was comprised of teams representing Sunrise Surf Shop (SE), Surf Ride Oceanside (SW), Pacific Wave Surf Shop (NW), Catalyst (W), HIC Kailua (HI), and Secret Spot Surf Shop (MA).
In barreling 4-6ft surf with offshore breezes, the six squads took to the water and after two preliminary heats plus a last chance qualifier, Sunrise Surf Shop, Catalyst, Surf Ride Oceanside, and Pacific Wave would battle it out in final round for a chance to lift the coveted 2019 overall trophy. Championship veterans Sunrise and Surf Ride bypassed the last chance qualifier heat earning direct qualification with total round one heat tallies of 32.34 and 33.08, respectively.
Round 1 highlights included Evan Thompson’s 8.17 (Sunrise), Kei Kobayashi’s 9.03 (Catalyst), and Quentin Turko’s 8.33 (Secret Spot Surf Shop). The highest wave score of the day also came from round one as Surf Ride’s Levi Slawson brilliantly surfed a deep right-hand barrel, locking a 9.67.
In the final heat, OSSC National Championship rookies Catalyst established a commanding lead early as shop employee Jack Hopkins and pro Kei Kobayashi secured a 5.00 and an 8.10 on their first ridden waves. As the designated whammy surfer, Kobayashi’s 8.10 was doubled for a total wave score of 16.20. With the early scores leaving ample time on the clock, this opened the door for their third surfer Nate Yeomans to be pickier about wave selection. Nate locked in an 8.57 for a well-surfed left hander. Sitting on 29.3 with their fourth and final surfer Kevin Tran yet to paddle out, it was clear that Catalyst had their sights set on a national championship.
Despite solid scores from Sunrise Surf Shop members Tristan Thompson (7.77) and Evan Thompson (7.57), their whammy surfer Cody Thompson was unable to secure a wave high enough to keep them in contention. With minutes remaining in the final heat, Pac Wave needed a near perfect ten for any chance at overtaking the top spot. At the final horn, it was Catalyst raising the 2019 National Championship trophy with a final heat score of 32.90.
“We all came out and just wanted to have fun, no pressure at all,” explained Catalyst shop employee Kevin Tran. “That’s when we perform the best; just having fun and it worked out in our favor. Everyone did what they had to do, and it was such a fun time out here. That [trophy] is going to look good in the shop!”
Congratulations to Catalyst team members Jack Hopkins, Kei Kobayashi, Nate Yeomans, and Kevin Tran on their 2019 OSSC Championship!
The Nixon Base Tide PRO-formance Award was presented to Levi Slawson of Surf Ride Oceanside for his deep right-hand barrel during round one.
New for 2019, the Nixon Base Tide PRO-formance Award is presented to the athlete who performs the most radical and progressive maneuver or combination during competition at each event, as decided by the judging panel. Winners receive a custom 2019 Nixon Base Tide Pro watch and other Nixon accessories.
Special thanks to Nica Heartbeat Health Center for being onsite to provide first aid services during the event.
Special thanks to Oakley, SURFER and event partners Body Glove, Flexfit, Futures, Nixon, Mark & Dave’s, MERGE4, Reef, and Yeti for their support, without which the Surf Shop Challenge series would not be possible.