Town and Country founder Craig Sugihara is a happy man these days. It’s a few minutes past 1 p.m. on a Friday in Honolulu and Craig’s nearly waltzing along an open grass field near Ala Moana Bowls, a grin on his face and a pop in his gait. His crew from T&C has just won their fourth Surf Shop Challenge title in the islands, giving them the aura of an unbeatable dynasty and another year’s worth of bragging rights. And when it comes to street cred in Hawaii, a Surf Shop Challenge title speaks pretty damn loudly in your favor.
“We’re a smart team. That’s what I think we do best. We know that high-tide Bowls with small swell means less waves, and less chances for our Whammy Rider to double his score,” said Sugihara after the final. “We thought about those kind of things and put our team out when they could do the most good.”
Although the team from T&C may have their heads on straight, it doesn’t hurt to boast a lineup with the likes of Dustin Cuizon and Alessa Quizon either. Both surfers were straight-up lethal in their heats, with Dustin acting as one of the most competent Whammy Surfers I’ve ever seen. On two occasions, Dustin would paddle out to his heat, catch one wave, murder it until the inside buoy, claim it, and paddle in. Business done. Take a ringer like that and add in another three heavy hitters and you’re looking at the best team in the islands. Again.
“Yeah, it does feel like we’re doing pretty well. That was actually a pretty close final in the end, but I think we’re looking good. I’m stoked on the event; I love doing it every year. It’s always super fun,” said the team captain for T&C, Travis Hashimoto, as he packed up his gear and made his way back to work to close up shop. A working-man’s surfer if there ever was one, Hashimoto handles the day-to-day operations at the company’s factory on the North Shore, and Surf Shop Challenge victory or not, someone’s got to close up the factory.
Back at the tent-strewn grounds overlooking Bowls, you won’t find a slice of bitterness among the other teams at the Surf Shop Challenge. Just a trash can full of Styrofoam plate-lunch boxes, a stable of fresh boards, and a lot of aloha among competitors. The other finalists-HIC, Quik’s North Shore Boardriders, and Hi Tech-could all be seen talking story and laughing throughout the day. Beaming at the prospect of having surfed Bowls with just a few friends, they relished in the amicable nature that surrounds the Shop Challenge in Hawaii. And although the surf was nowhere near stellar Bowls, the talk at the event was already about next year.
“Ahh, brah. If I would have just had one more turn, I think we could have won,” said a member of North Shore Board Riders after narrowly losing to T&C. “Ahh well, next year…We’ll get ‘em next year.”
After their Regional win today, the crew from T&C will jump the pond to California for the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge Nationals at Huntington Beach in September.
“Yeah, I think we’ll be ready this year at Nationals,” said Hashimoto. “We’re not all really used to surfing those kind of waves on the Mainland, but we’re all really stoked on today’s win and looking forward to Nationals.”