It could not have been pleasant for those at Jack's Surfboards to watch the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge the past few years.
Right in their own backyard, across the street from their shop at Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street and down on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, Jack's employees and surfers watched as surf teams from North Carolina and Florida were winning the challenge and claiming the title of best surf shop team in the nation.
This year, Jack's did something about it. Vance Smith, Matt Pagan, Bobby Okvist and Chris Waring teamed up for Jack's and won the challenge's West Regional back in June. They became one of the seven surf shop teams from around the country to win their respective regional and qualify for the national championships.
But there was a twist.
While all three of the previous national championships were held at the H.B. Pier, this year Oakley was going all out. Instead of Jack's getting a home-wave advantage, they'd have to get on a plane and go to Bali Canggu in Indonesia.
They got over it.
This past weekend Smith, Pagan, Okvist and Waring rallied in the final heat to beat Sunrise Surf Shop, the Southeast Regional champ from Jacksonville, Fla., 33.35 points to 32.40 and claim the title of best surf shop in the country.
The key to the victory was the performance of Waring, who was designated the team's "whammy" surfer. (The whammy surfer's best score is doubled).
Sunrise appeared to be in perfect position to win when their whammy surfer put up a 9.4, but Waring's 8.67 was enough to help his team out-point Sunrise and win the crown.
"I was stressing. I was just waiting for that certain wave, and it didn't come for the longest time," Waring said. "I can't believe I got that one; I'm so stoked. I'm stoked for all my boys: Vance, Bobby, Pagan. This is epic. We just won 10 Gs boys!"
Indeed, the winning team recieved $10,000 as well as a full-page shop profile in SURFER Magazine, ads on Surfermag.com and a custom beach cruiser with surf racks.
This was the fourth year of the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge, Sunrise Surf Shop in Florida winning the inaugural event in 2009 and Sweetwater Surf Shop from North Carolina winning in 2010 and 2011.
This year, the competition began with nearly 300 surfers from 70 surf shops from around the country. Each four-man team is made up of two shop employees and two pros.
Kelly Slater won his second Assn. of Surfing Professionals contest in a row last week, beating Dane Reynolds in the final of the Quiksilver Pro France to move closer to ASP World Championship Tour points leader Joel Parkinson.
In fact, Slater's biggest victory in the event might have been his semifinal win over Parkinson. If Parkinson wins and reaches the final instead of Slater, it would make Slater's quest for a 12th world title that much tougher considering there are only three events left.
As it stands now, Australia's Parkinson is in first place with 46,200 points, and Slater is in second with 45,450. There are 10 events in the WCT schedule, with the standings based on each surfer's best eight finishes.
"When you start working the numbers a little bit, I got that 500 pointer [injury default] and a 13th, two bad results already," Slater said. "Parko [Parkinson] is sitting on a ninth and a fifth. If I couldn't get past Parko, it would have put a lot of pressure on me, but this has now put the pressure back on Mick [Fanning] because Parko, John John [Florence] and I did well here at this event."
Fanning is in third place in the WCT standings with 43,000 points, and Florence is in fourth with 39,150.
Slater won WCT's event at Trestles last month, and he also won the Volcom Fiji Pro in June. Parkinson, though he leads in the standings, has not won a single event on the WCT this year, but he has three second-place finishes and two thirds.
The eighth contest on the WCT — the Rip Curl Pro — is underway in Peniche, Portugal. Event No. 9 comes back to California with the O'Neil Coldwater Classic in Santa Cruz in early November, and the WCT concludes with the Billabong Pipe Masters at the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii in December.
JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.