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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Local surf teams win big out of town

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For the fourth year out of five, the team from Sweetwater Surf Shop won the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge in Kitty Hawk on Tuesday, April 8.

Eleven teams competed from North Carolina and Virginia during the annual contest with three from Wrightsville Beach. In addition to the Sweetwater Surf Shop team, Surf City Surf Shop and The Annex Surf Supply also fielded teams.

The Sweetwater team consisted of Ben Bourgeois, Dylan Kowalski, Mike Casper and Spencer Lem.

Lem said surf conditions were challenging because the waves did not amount to more than 1-2 feet on average, but the team’s strategy of trying to make the most out of every wave helped them win.

Sweetwater Surf Shop manager Jayson Baysden said winning the contest brings bragging rights for the shop and a full-page ad in Surfer Magazine.

The biggest award for the competitors is a paid trip to the site of the next round of the surf shop challenge, which will take place in Central America this fall.

The next stage is the national level of the challenge, and Baysden said Sweetwater has won that stage twice.

UNCW Surf Team

The University of North Carolina Wilmington Surf Team came home from the National Scholastic Surfing Association’s 2014 East Coast Championships with its sixth consecutive title in April.

“It shows that UNCW is the premier college for surfing scholar athletes on the East Coast,” said Dylan McNamara, UNCW surf team coach.

More than half of the team members placed within their respective divisions, including a first-place win for team captain Nick Rupp.

Shane Burn, Cobi Christiansen, Airlie Pickett, Alexis Goss and Alec Rockrise also earned top rankings.

McNamara said team members prepared for the championship in their own time.

“It’s hard to schedule a practice. The waves are so variable here. … If there was surf 40 hours a week, they would be out there,” McNamara said.

Since McNamara is also an avid surfer, he usually shares waves with team members at local beaches. He might provide advice, but his coaching duties primarily entail assembling the best surfers on campus into a team.

“We already had a really strong surfing culture. I just catalyzed everyone to get them together,” McNamara said.

McNamara said the team would love to attend the national championship, but unless they can raise money to travel to Huntington Beach they will have to pass.

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