Under the bluest of skies and a building 5-foot swell, the 10 teams gathered at Ala Moana Bowls to compete at the Hawaiian leg of the Surf Shop Challenge scored some of the best waves in the history of the event. With a bevy of Hawaii’s top surfers competing at this year’s contest, the likes of Pancho Sullivan, Kekoa Bacalso, Makua Rothman, Mark Healey and others ensured that they capitalized on the perfect surf and empty lineup on offer at this unique contest.
With a team format that pits local surf shops against one another, the event heightens existing rivalries and gives the winners enough bragging rights to fill an entire shaping bay. With teams composed of two shop employees and two teamriders, this year’s contest proved to be the biggest Hawaii has seen to date with a record 10 teams competing at Bowls.
Heading into the event with four consecutive wins, all eyes were pinned on team Town & Country to repeat their past performances. But with the aforementioned slew of talent sprinkled throughout each of the teams, it truly was anyone’s win for the taking. And as the first heat got underway and the swell continued to stack, it instantly became clear that this event was going to be one to remember. In the first five minutes alone, double-section tuberides were raining down on the event like it was going out of style.
“I just can’t believe how good it is out there right now. I don’t usually surf out here a lot because of the crowd, but to have it like this with just a few other guys out is amazing,” said Pancho Sullivan, who competed for team Surf N Sea and found himself barreled a half-dozen times at the event. “Right now I’m not thinking about winning or losing the event, I just want a chance to surf out there again.”
As the event progressed into the final round, the 10 teams that began the event were whittled down to five with Town & Country, HIC, HI-Tech, Surf N Sea, and Blue Hawaii all vying for the win. Out to sea, well overhead tubes continued to detonate on the reef and explode into the channel. The swell continued to build and so did the anticipation. As the horn blew and signaled the start of the final heat, the surf kicked into fifth gear and gave way to a phenomenal display of surfing, as almost every surfer in the event—both shop employees and team riders alike—were able to tuck into the tube at least once.
As has become tradition, Town & Country was looking to be the team to beat with team leader Travis Hashimoto, Dustin Quizon, Makua Rothman, and Geoff Wong all ripping. But just behind them, nipping at their heels, stood a hungry team HIC. Composed of Kekoa Cazimero, Joel Centeio, Merv Kuahiwinui, and Devin Jamie, HIC was looking like they could steal the win this year. As the clock ticked down, a solid set washed through the lineup that saw a number of surfers snag near-perfect scores. Barrels, high-speed carves, and elavator-drop floaters streamed through all at once. With a last-minute shift in the points, it seemed as if any of the remaining teams could have claimed the win.
With the final heat horn blowing, contestants showered off and met up for a post-contest party later that night where the winners were announced. With a narrow margin and led by the top-shelf surfing from Kekoa Cazimero, it was announced that team HIC had won the event and claimed the title. In a fitting move, Town and Country, the reigning champs, drenched HIC in champagne.
“This was such a fun event and I’m so stoked that we were able to win this year,” said Kekoa Cazimero. Bowls is one of my favorite waves and I can’t believe we got to surf it pretty much alone when it’s this good. We’re really stoked and are definitely looking forward to competing at the national games in Huntington. I still can’t believe how fun the surf was.”
1. HIC- 31.8 (Davin Jaime, Kekoa Cazimero, Merv Kuahiwinui*, Joel Centeio)
2. Surf N Sea – 28.86 (Joey Sadoy, Garrett Kanakaole, Pancho Sullivan*, Richard Jensen)
3. T & C – 26. 53 – (Geoff Wong, Dustin Cuizon*, Travis Hashimoto, Makua Rothman)
4. Hi Tech – 23.83 (Reuben Cantere, Ola Eleogram, Kain Daly*, John Chiu)
5. Blue Hawaii – 19.63 (Devin Brueggemann, Jordan Brueggemann, John Parks, EJ Mitsui*)
*Indicates whammy surfer