The 4th Annual OíNeill Braggers Cup, the ultimate grudge match between surf shops. took place under sunny skies on the cedar-lined shores of the west coast of Canada on May 27th 2008. As always, the victors were worshipped and the losers were scorned and humiliated. This year like all others previous, proved to be a battle of epic proportions with 11 O'Neill Dealers from across British Columbia competing for bragging rights as the Top Surf Shop. Prestige, honor, and bragging rights were at stake and the elusive question was answered... Who has the best surf shop in Western Canada?
The O'Neill Braggers Cup is an event where hurling insults at your opponents is encouraged. It is applauded when your rival surf shop competitor digs rail and flails like a kook! It brings great pleasure and amusement when your opponent blows the wave of the day. The event is filled with fun and larceny and no one is exempt from hearing it from the competition. But at the end of the day good surfing prevails and the best team wins.
The O'Neill Braggers Cup implements the concept of the NSL's The Game format. Surf Shop Teams compete against each other where each rider is scored on his/her top waves and added to the cumulative combined score for the team. In essence, every riderís single wave is extremely important. All Shop Teams must have at least two full-time staff members, with the option of as many team members as you want, but they have to be affiliated with the shop in same way or form. In true O'Neill Braggers Cup tradition, twists to the "contest" format occur as changes from the Contest Director can happen at any point in time, and this year was no different! Competitors had to be prepared for anything! The O'Neill Braggers Cup is not a surf contest, but rather a "gathering" designed to give back to the local shops and communities that support the O'Neill Brand all year long. There definitely is a competitive element in and out of the water and not always are the best surfers the victors!
Since the forecast was calling for lack-luster swell conditions, 2 more challenges were added to the event to keep things interesting; tug-o-war and an inflatable mattress race. The Contest Director kept all teams in the dark as to the addition of these events so that no team would have the upper-hand with pre-competition training. The 100+ people that lined the beach on this sunny Spring day in May witnessed some amazing strengths and defeats among the costume-clad surf shop teams as they pulled, paddled and blew their way to either victory or slaughter. O'Neill Team Rider, Reid Jackson, showed his true prowess in the inflatable mattress contest when he took first place for Storm Surf Shop, last years winners of the much sought after O'Neill Braggers Cup. Partnered with Allister Fernie, owner of Storm Surf Shop, Jackson overcame sabotage not once but twice by Long Beach Surf Shop when Bill Fend took the hot-air out of their proverbial sails by puncturing a hole in their mattress and then tackling Reid on his way to victory...no-one is granted a safe journey to victory at the O'Neill Braggers Cup!
As the surf heats continued throughout the day and an almost perfect left-hand pointbreak sandbar began to expose itself on the high-tide, it seemed inevitable that Storm Surf Shop would once again take the honours of being the O'Neill Braggers Cup Champions for 2008 as they suited up and headed down, 11 surfers strong, to the waters edge for their heat. Storm already had one event in the bag but were eliminated in the first round of the tug-o-war by Tofino neighbours and fierce O'Neill Braggers Cup challengers, Pacific Surf School. Pacific Surf School would go on to win the tug-o-war challenge after eliminating Switch in the finals and Long Beach Surf Shop in the semis. Storm with its stacked team of some of the best surfers in Canada like Peter Devries and O'Neill Team Riders Noah Cohen and Reid Jackson, absolutely lit up the waves with some of the most radical maneuvers seen that day; their cumulative score would be the biggest of the day followed by Second Wave who had both Raph and Sepp Bruhwiler on their team; Second Wave will prove to be a force to be reckoned with in future years as the O'Neill Surf Shop Challenge continues to grow in popularity. Pacific Surf School, Long Beach Surf Shop, Switch and Coastline rounded out the top 6 with the highest cumulative scores; however, the final wave-score tabulation per surfer had not been done and would be revealed at the crowning of "The King of the Thrown" during the award ceremony at the Surf Junction Campground later that evening.
As the O'Neill BBQ kicked into full swing we were all rocked into the dark hours by the infectious surf grooves of Current Swell as the Silver Bullet flowed deep into the veins of the hordes of elated surfers! At many points the dance-floor was mistaken for a swimming pool as people dove from nearby crowded picnic tables into the ensuing mosh-pit. No O'Neill Braggers Cup is exempt from a good old-fashioned boat race or two, and this year was no exception. Before the final results were announced, a boat race was necessary to determine a tie between Coastline, Sitka and Switch; a skirmish that has gone down in history as "The Great Beer Battle for the South Island". Coastline came out victorious after enlisting the help of "Beer-Chugger Extraordinaire", Crispy, the drummer from the band Current Swell. After the dust settled and the last dregs of alcohol were licked off the table it was time to announce a winner - Storm Surf Shop was sitting pretty with a solid performance in the surf and a win in the inflatable mattress challenge, but Pacific Surf School and Long Beach Surf Shop had posted consistently high scores throughout the event. A nail bitting silence was felt when all the scores were announced with Pacific Surf School taking third place leaving only Storm and Long Beach Surf Shop, who took victory by narrowly beating Storm in the surf challenge not by out performing the dominant crew at Storm, but rather by scoring a higher per surfer tally due to their small numbers. So congratulations goes to all competitors for making this the most exciting O'Neill Braggers Cup to date and especially to Long Beach Surf Shop for becoming The King of the Thrown for 2008!
O'Neill would like to thank all the Surf Shops that took part in this years O'Neill Surf Shop Challenge and made for such a memorable event. Special thanks go out to Coors Light for hooking us up with so many tasty beverages, Current Swell for rocking, Paul and Colleen at Surf Junction Campground for supplying us with the venue and dealing with all our debauchery, the Pacific Rim Nation Park Reserve for allowing us to gather and truly appreciate the amazing world we live in, and Allister Fernie for once again making sure everyone got home safely. Thanks also to all who joined us for a fun-filled few days of camping, surfing, laughing, crying, eating, drinking and living the Spirit of O'Neill.
- Long Beach Surf Shop (Tofino)
- Storm Surf Shop (Tofino)
- Pacific Surf School (Tofino)
- Coastline (Victoria)
- Switch (Victoria)
- Second Wave (North Vancouver)
- The Boardroom (Vancouver)
- Sitka (Victoria)
- Alternative Groove (Nanaimo)
- Bill and Ted's Board Shop (Duncan)
- Island Longboards (Qualicum)