Frank Walsh Wins Smith Optics Garden State Grudge Match
Top New Jersey Surfers Battled for Bragging Rights in Seaside Heights
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 26 October 2004: - - KETCHUM, Idaho, October 25, 2004 - After deciding to re-schedule the contest due to a growing swell from sub-tropical storm Nicole, the third annual Smith Optics Garden State Grudge Match surf contest went down at the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights on Oct 11th, 2004. The break did not disappoint as the competitors were blessed with 4- to 6- foot surf and the cleanest conditions in the event's three-year history. All the Jersey heavy-hitters were present to stake their claim to the championship belt, with Sam Hammer, Ryan Kimmel, Mike Gleason, Ben McBrien, Dean Randazzo, and 2003 champ Matt Keenan all in attendance. The contestants fought valiantly, but it was Atlantic City native and Smith Optics team rider Frank Walsh who took home the win.
This event brings out some of the greatest rivalries in the sport of surfing today with every loser vowing revenge year in and year out. Both Frank Walsh and Sam Hammer were on a mission this time around, as they had mutually tasted defeat last year in some closely contested heats and even controversial outcomes. The two competitors dominated each round leading up to the final, with Walsh taking the highest heat totals in Round 1, quarters, and semis. Hammer took the honors in Round 2 at his home break, but in the end, his long-time friend Walsh shut him out and took home the belt and the $3,000 prize purse. This win was very significant to Walsh as in both previous years Grudge Match contests he was eliminated in the 2nd round and quarterfinals, losing to champ Dean Randazzo in 2002 and runner-up Andrew Gesler in 2003.
"This contest has taken a life of its own," says Smith Optics East Coast Sales Rep Rob Cloupe. "The man-on-man format really makes these rivalries thrive because they can't blame their defeat on anyone else. No teams here, just you and the guy who is gunning to take you out. The smack talking for next year already began before the contest ended."
The Garden State Grudge Match utilizes a unique contest format that allows the contestants to determine their combatants in each heat by picking their competitors out of a hat. The catch is, WINNER TAKE ALL! No prize money for second place, which makes defeat even harder to swallow. The mastermind of local Smith Optics' rep Rob Cloupe and friend Rob Zselezcky, the event has become the ultimate bragging right for the local New Jersey surfers. With three years under the belt and three different champs, next year's Grudge Match will not disappoint.
For more information visit www.smithoptics.com.
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